Friday, March 1, 2013

Navigating our social media driven world

Posted on Friday, March 01, 2013 by International Coach Federation

When social media channels first emerged on the scene in the early 2000s, they were perceived by many as a fad. Something that would stick around only long enough until the next big thing appeared. But today, with more than one billion users across numerous platforms (TechCrunch, 2012), they are very clearly here to stay.

As a coach in today’s technologically advanced world, how can you best utilize these burgeoning social media channels to your advantage? Which platforms should you use? How do you build up your likes/followers/fans? What messages should you share? Read on for the tips and tricks of navigating social media.

Facebook
If you aren’t on Facebook, you should be. This social media tycoon has more than one billion monthly active users—81 percent of which live outside North America (Facebook, 2012). With so many active users, many of your past, current, and potential clients are bound to be there already.

Gain loyal followers: You do this by providing quality content on a regular basis. What can you offer that provides value? It is important to post content beyond your business—entice people by posting about coaching, your community and more. Daily, consistent updates keep fans engaged and interested in what you have to offer. There is no magic number when it comes to how many posts you should put out there in a given day or week. Test different strategies to see what works for you.

Engage people in conversation by asking questions and always responding to comments and questions on your page.

23% of Facebook users check their account 5+ times daily! Some 80% of social media users prefer to connect with brands through Facebook AND a whopping 77% of B2C companies and 43% of B2B companies acquired customers from Facebook. (Huffington Post, 2012)

Twitter
Twitter is rapidly growing as a social media mainstay. The trick is to sell yourself in 140 characters or less (less is more!). You want multiple tweets in a day, but too many—or too salesy—tweets will cause followers to stop following. Space out your tweets (you can even schedule tweets through a program like Hootsuite) to keep content moving steadily.

Getting started in the Twittersphere: Seek out colleagues and friends to follow on Twitter. The people you follow will prove to be a constant source of inspiration—it is through them that you will be able to retweet (share) content and you’ll glean ideas for future messaging.

Post and share content that matters: By consistently providing valuable content in your areas of expertise, people will turn to you as source. Balance out your messaging with retweets of others’ content. Pose questions, post quotations, share articles/blog posts that speak to you. The Twitter feed moves quickly. The nature of Twitter allows you to repurpose your messages and share more than once—this is especially important if your followers are spread across multiple time zones.

Be an active part of the conversation. Retweet and comment on posts! If people engage with you, interact! An unfortunate 56 percent of customer tweets to companies are being ignored (Huffington Post, 2012). You don’t want that to be you!

Since the dawn of Twitter, there have been a total of 163 billion tweets. In 2012, one million accounts were added to Twitter every day. (Huffington Post, 2012)

LinkedIn
LinkedIn is frequently touted as a powerful social networking tool for professionals and is a great way to connect with past/current/future clients.

More than 2.6 million companies have LinkedIn Company pages. (LinkedIn Press Center, 2012)

Tips for making the most of yours: have a complete profile page—you want to build trust from the very beginning. Provide enough information so people feel comfortable reaching out to you. Tell your story…why should people care about you/your business? Don’t leave fields blank (this includes all possible contact information you can list)! Add a real photo of yourself—people like to see the person behind the profile.

Join and be active: Once your account is set up, you will want to begin networking. There is a plethora of coaching groups active on LinkedIn where you can join in on numerous discussions.

Likewise, if leads are what you seek, they can be found on LinkedIn, you just have to ask! Anytime you make a new connection, don’t be afraid to let them know you are searching for a lead.

Blog
If done well, your blog can be a powerful tool to promote your business/services; boost additional web traffic to your website; and connect with potential clients.

Concerned with content? The growth of coaching in recent years has been phenomenal—as such, people are constantly searching for more information about it. In addition to writing about your own business and coaching, talk in broader terms about the profession. Answer those frequently asked questions you have heard over the years. Shed insight into what coaching is and what it isn’t. Talk about the coaching process and how people can determine if it will work for them.

60% of businesses have a business or company blog—of these, 35% actively blog at least once a month. (Blogging.org, 2012)

Other social media platforms you might consider using:

YouTube
There are over 800 million unique visitors to YouTube each month (YouTube, 2012). If you create videos, a branded YouTube channel is a perfect way to house your collection. Your own channel allows viewers to subscribe to your content (and be immediately notified of any new videos you post). Through YouTube, it is simple to embed your videos directly into blog posts for use across other social media platforms.

Pinterest
This relatively new platform is all about increasing your business’ visibility. Potential ideas for use include: sharing favorite quotes, books, success stories, etc. Be creative! It was found that 69 percent of online consumers who visit Pinterest have found an item they’ve bought or wanted to buy, compared with 40 percent of Facebook users (Huffington Post, 2012). Also, 43 percent of people prefer Pinterest to associate with retailers or brands; 24 percent chose Facebook (Huffington Post, 2012). Pinterest use continues to grow amongst businesses with the now available Pinterest Business pages.

If you have any tips or strategies when it comes to social media usage, we would love to hear them! Tweet them to us using this hash tag: #icfsmtip

Works Cited
1. Facebook. (2012, October). Retrieved December 4, 2012, from http://www.facebook.com/: http://newsroom.fb.com/Key-Facts
2. Huffington Post. (2012, November 29). Retrieved December 4, 2012, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/brian-honigman/100-fascinating-social-me_b_2185281.html
3. LinkedIn Press Center. (2012, September 30). Retrieved December 5, 2012, from LinkedIn: http://press.linkedin.com/About
4. TechCrunch. (2012, May 14). Retrieved December 4, 2012, from http://techcrunch.com/: http://techcrunch.com/2012/05/14/itu-there-are-now-over-1-billion-users-of-social-media-worldwide-most-on-mobile/

Kristin Kelly is the woman behind ICF’s social media initiates. She’s the one who keeps you informed through Facebook, shares interesting articles about coaching on Twitter, and moderates discussions on LinkedIn. She is also the editor of the official ICF blog and manager of ICF’s email newsletters. Kristin has been on staff as ICF’s Marketing Specialist for the last five years. If you have a submission for the blog, email her at kristin.kelly@coachfederation.org. This article was first featured in the February 2013 issue of Coaching World

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