Social Networking strategy for my business
Having ignored internet social networking for a very, very long time; primarily due to having a limiting belief that ‘it just isn’t for me’, I have now woken up to the great possibilities and opportunities that proactive social networking presents.
Having committed to Twitter (and commit I have, as doing it half-heartedly does not work), I rapidly realised that to tap into the sea of potential that is the world-wide-web of amazing people connected to their internet machines, I needed a plan; A plan that will help me stay focussed, aid my businesses growth and, importantly, be fun.
And because social networking is all about connecting, sharing and learning, I’d like to share my plan with you – I hope it helps us both connect with who we want to connect with; remembering that oftentimes we don’t know who we want to connect with, until we do!
Why I am committing to social networking
- To connect with relevant people
- To learn about topics I’m interested in
- To share my key learnings
Once I’d established why I wanted to proactively network online, the first thing I did was to consider who I want to create relationships with and get connected to. My Marketing Operations tutor drilled into me that with any marketing plan segmentation always comes first. (She used to repeat over and over, in a sharp staccato fashion ‘SEGMENTATION, TARGETING, POSITIONING!’).
Seems a bit formal, to be applying this to a social networking plan, however I want to be as focussed as possible so that I don’t end up using valuable time engrossed in a web of social networks which aren’t assisting my business or my own growth.
So, in my case here’s who I have decided I want to connect with via social networking tools:
- Potential partners (other business operators who serve the hotel market), for example
- Hotel marketing professionals
- Hotel website designers
- Hotel software providers and distribution channels
- Inspiring entrepreneurs
- Best practice social networkers & sharers of knowledge and latest trends
- Existing and potential clients
- luxury hotels & resorts in the UK, Europe and North America
And here’s what I’d like to share:
- My thoughts, feelings and experiences about running and growing a business serving the hospitality sector.
- I’d like to provide an open, honest and fair account of the ups and downs associated with being a business owner.
- My key learnings about social networking, including:
- Useful social networking tools that have helped me and my business
- Useful blog posts & video streams that have helped me and my business
- Ideas on social networking for luxury hotels and resorts (and comments about what works and what doesn’t)
- Stuff that SK Chase is working on
- including some personal news about me
What is Internet Social Networking?
So that’s why I’m doing it, but what, exactly, is social networking?
Internet social networking is similar to traditional networking, but much more rapid, relevant and fluid.
It provides people with the opportunity to connect with other people who share the same interests, either on a personal or business basis. But more than that, it provides an opportunity for me to see who the person I’m connecting with, is connected to. This doesn’t happen in a regular conversation.
This 2 minute video blog, Social Networking in Plain English, by the brilliant Lee LeFever helps illustrate this point further.
Context for social networking
To help me with my strategy, and to keep me focused, I have chosen an overall context, for my social networking plan of ‘creating relationships’.
I will re-anchor to this context when I’m faced with a choice and need to make a decision about whether or not I do something related to social networking.
For example, if I am faced with a dilemma such as ‘should I spend 10 minutes adding information about myself to my profile?’, the answer will be a resounding ‘yes’, because the more I share about myself, the more people are going to feel comfortable connecting with me.
And if I’m tempted to not bother responding to someone who has taken the time to contact me via a social networking site, if I remember to hold the context of ‘creating relationships’ this will encourage me to make the effort to connect.
You may think that by holding my context of ‘creating relationships’ whilst considering whether to watch a video stream link I’ve been sent on a social networking site about endangered Yellow Tailed Woolly Monkeys in the Peruvian Andes, that I may choose not to, however it’s these extra little bits about people’s interests that really help you to connect with them – and find out about the human being behind the business.
And changing the context, changes the content, as my wonderful Shirlaws coach, Fergus King, has successfully taught me. Other contexts could be ‘fun’, or ‘focus’, or ‘depth’ or ‘speed’.
I have experienced that it is much less nerve-wracking approaching someone on twitter, than it is walking up to a group of people who are having a conversation about a topic that I’m interested in.
And, subject to you knowing exactly the type of people you want to connect with, it’s so quick to find people with similar interests.
I’m not knocking the more traditional styles of social networking; clearly, if I choose to attend a networking event which is specifically for business operators that provide a service to luxury hotels and resorts, then I’m going to meet people relevant to my business. However, how many I actually connect with will be dependent upon many variables on the day. For example, where I’m sitting, the format of the event, what time of day it is, whether I end up having a long engrossing conversation with one person, or short, unfocussed conversations with many others.
I’m not replacing traditional networking with online networking – I’m adding a new tool. I.e. it’s an AND thing and not an OR thing. And the bizarre part for me is that the more I connect with folk online, the more I want to connect with folk offline too!!!
How I’m going to use social networking
So now we come to the implementation piece of my plan.
Which social networking sites?
There are tons of social networking sites (until recently I was only aware of a handful of them). Wikipedia provides a useful table showing the social networking site name, description and purpose. I was amazed to discover the vast array available for niche topics.
These industry-specific sites may be good for connecting with people relevant to my industry, but in my opinion, it is healthy to be proactive in a selected ‘general’ social networking site – to widen the net, so to speak. And the really proactive hospitality industry leaders will have their own twitter account anyway.
The biggest investment regarding social networking is my time. Therefore I have decided to primarily focus on one social networking site and choose three ‘satellite’ sites that I dip into and out of.
And the winner is: Twitter 🙂
This is because it’s the site that most resonates with me; I immediately ‘got it’ and it is the site that spurred me into social networking action. For further info on my love affair with twitter visit my article ‘Why I love Twitter (and thought I hated social networking)’. Oh, and incidentally my Twitter handle is @ThisisKaye
The secondary site that I am going to dip into on a less frequent basis is LinkedInn.
How long will I spend on social networking?
The biggest investment regarding social networking is time. I don’t have to part with a dime by registering with the social networking sites I have chosen; there is no joining or annual membership fee (unless I choose to subscribe to the more advanced features on some sites), but it does eat into my HAPD (hours available per day).
I have seen how easy it is to ‘lose’ 3 hours engrossed on Twitter (which is one of the reasons I decided to write this plan). Now, if it’s a Friday evening and I’m really enjoying it, no problem, however I must find a healthy balance during the week, if I’m to achieve my business goals!
Therefore I intend (intention is the keyword here 🙂 ) to spend half an hour during the day to posting and reading tweets (if I choose to spend more time in the evening, that’s my prerogative!) and two hours a week considering & writing longer entries for my Blog.
It’s important, if I am to be perceived as credible, not only to recommend blog posts that others I respect have written, but to also author my own opinions and experiences.
When is the best time to socially network?
When the inspiration hits me. First thing in the morning is always good. Today is a Sunday, and I find that I’m most relaxed writing blog-posts on Sundays!
Letting people know I’m Tweeting
I’d like to make my contribution towards expanding the web of social networking; I’ve noticed that whilst there are a number of proactive luxury hotel and resort operators using the likes of twitter, there is still a high number who have not yet tapped into this amazing opportunity.
Therefore I will be emailing all of my main contacts and inviting them to read both this post and my previous, to encourage them to take action.
How to keep people interested.
Be honest. Say what I think. Be brave and willing to be open and show my lack of knowledge. Be brave and willing to show my wealth of knowledge!
Be consistent with my approach – I’ve written this plan as an aid for my social networking. Of course it is not set in stone, but now I have the opportunity to be consistent.
And finally to have a lot of fun; by showing my enjoyment in each social networking encounter I have, this can only positively influence the myriad of future social networking experiences my future holds!