One of the reasons I absolutely LOVE social media is the ability to easily reach people you might not have otherwise met.
Unfortunately, this is also why many businesses say, “I gotta be on Twitter so I can use it to promote my products” or, “We have to create a Facebook page to let our customers know all the great things we are selling.” They see it more as advertising or promotional platform, and frankly, not only are they completely missing the point of “social” media (and violating the golden rule!) but they are missing a HUGE opportunity to actually connect to their community and be of real service.
A simple, effective way to get noticed: be of service!
I briefly touched on the importance of being generous with your time, attention and knowledge in my post on how to do social media right but how EXACTLY do you do this?
One of the best ways is simply answering questions. Each day, as part of your designated social media time, answer someone’s question on Twitter, or Facebook, or in a LinkedIn group, wherever you hang out! This could be directly related to your area of expertise, or maybe you know an amazing resource you could refer them to. Not only does it feel great to be of service to others, but you’ll quickly develop a reputation as someone who is helpful and really knows their stuff.
Where to find questions:
- Facebook groups
- Twitter search relevant key words
- Relevant Google+ Communities (I've just started dipping into some myself and I'm loving the resources and knowledge exchange going on over there.)
- Dip into related Twitter-lists and scan for questions
- LinkedIn groups
- If you have an active community, don't forget to check your @mentions on Twitter and your Facebook page for questions!
The venue doesn't matter. Being of service does. As one of my business mentors, Jenny Shih says, “When you start to go out in the world and be of service, you get noticed. And you get noticed by people who want to hire you.”
In fact, being of service is one of the biggest ways Jenny says she gets clients! And it’s step #2 in her 5-step plan to create a profitable business.* She gives a bunch of great examples on how to truly be of service, online & off, while also letting people know they can hire you.
One of Jenny’s nuggets of wisdom: get comfortable sharing your free resources. When you answer someone’s question on Facebook, for example, share a blog post you have on that topic, by saying “by the way if you’d like more details on this, you can check out this blog post I wrote.”
So not only are you creating community by being of service, but you are also letting people know what you do. That’s win-win!
Your big opportunity (should you choose to accept it!)
But does this really work?
In his newsletter* last Sunday, Chris Brogan shared the results of a Twitter experiment he conducted to evaluate how 4 groups: brands, the media, celebrities and the community-at-large, are using the platform–and critically, which group is doing the best job.
“What I noticed immediately was that three of the four groups [brands, the media and celebrities] were missing several opportunities to improve relationships and thus potential business with the people they served,” wrote Chris. “In lots of cases, I’m pretty sure people didn't even think about their use of the social network as an opportunity to serve a community. Instead, they used it like a bullhorn, whether or not anyone was paying attention.”
So the winner is? The ‘community-at-large’ (that’s you & me!): “In all cases, these people worked the hardest, connected the most, and reaped the benefits,” wrote Chris. “I saw their subscriber counts rising every time they engaged and responded, and I saw lots of promised future activity.”
YES. This is sooo true. I see it in my own social channels and also when I work with companies on their social media.
But it’s Chris’ conclusion that really hit home for me:
“People who are part of the fabric of the community can do better than the brands, the media properties, and the celebrities who are missing their opportunity to build a much better and closer interaction with the people seeking to learn more.
That’s the big win.”
That is a big win. And a HUGE opportunity for us ‘little guys’ to go beyond the “bullhorn” and use our social platforms to create real, engaged community.
And the best way to start is by being of service. Give it a try and watch your community, reputation and client list grow.
Take action now
- Go find–& answer–at least one question today!
And share how & where you found someone you could help in the comments below. I’d love to know : )
BONUS: Do this at least a few times a week, whenever you have a little bit of extra time.
I’d love to hear from you
How are you using your social media time to be of service? Do you regularly look for places where you can lend a hand online?
I’d love to hear your success stories around being of service in the comments.
And please share this post! Just think how much better the internets would be if everyone was trying to be of service : ) I’d love if you helped spread the word on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ using the buttons below.
*I want you to know I only recommend people and products I truly believe in (even with free stuff because your time is valuable) and no, neither Chris nor Jenny asked me share their stuff with you–they have no idea I’m doing it! But I’ve already listened to Jenny’s amazing free audio training twice and plan on listening a third time to pull out all the next steps for my own business, that’s how action-packed it is. And I always look forward to Chris’ newsletter on Sunday mornings, it’s one of the best in my inbox.