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The conventional wisdom when using social media to promote your business is to avoid constant direct marketing plugs and sales messages.  Instead, we are told to "take part in the discussion" on Twitter and Facebook.  The implication is that if you are out there genuinely engaged with people, you will build trust, respect, etc. so that people may turn to you as a resource when they need help - expertise or a recommendation.  

But what does that really mean on a practical level?  The business only has an identity on the Fan page.  The individual business owner may or may not be identified with the business.  So, I can jump into whatever discussion is active, but it may not have any connection to the business.  On the other hand, the business' fan page can send out random messages, but that is hardly engaging in the coversation.

So, how to we really engage with these tools without the hard sell.  Any ideas?

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We too are a fairly new business so we understand your question. One way we have been gaining a lot of influence and following is to become a resource in our field. We offer usable, actionable advice on trends, what customers need to know, how-to's and commentary on the Enterprise business software area. We find our twitter followers have been more focused as our content is very specific.

We do not use facebook as part of our social media strategy but our blog shows many repeat visitors. Also when using twitter just sharing something useful or interesting to provoke the conversation to the group adds value as well. We are finding by no means is this a quick process but I think our influence and thought leadership is starting to perpetuate as our quality of followers have recently increased. This will eventually turn into new business as it begets "buzz".
Thanks. We too have had some luck on the blogging end and the posts that get the most repeat hits are those with the most practical (and sometimes basic) information.

Your comments have sparked some ideas already. I think we can probably take snippets of the same practical information and put it out on Twitter in more bite-size pieces.
Like Dylan said becomming known as a resource in your field has a lot to do with building that trust you mention. But I for one always sign my posts with another way to get my company info....
Michael G Murray
Chief Solution Provider
Thanks Michael,

It's the details that count. Do you find that some blogs will exclude your comments if you include URL or a link. Again, I suppose if the comment is relevant and useful, then it's mutually beneficial to include it. If not, your comments might be rejected as blatant promotion. I suppose there is no harm in trying, but I don't want to get "black listed" from some forums if there is an impression of too much promotion. On the other hand, without a link or some connection to my company, there is less value for me.

Walter Plante
Chief Tasting Officer
Hi Walter, I think before you have a Fan page or a Group, you need to have a personal page. It is the personal page where I engage in general discussion and get to know others. People on your fan or group page are generally there because they are interested in what you are offering so you would basically send out information on your product.

Comment on posts that have general interest to you, and if something pertains to your product slip that in as well. Social Networking is a job within itself and the most important task is staying engaged.
Walter first a personal page,a personal profile and truly getting to know people,so many tools are available to connect,status updates etc,you have to bond with people and then you create a business page,this is all ok at a personal level.But,if you are doing it for somebody else like your company has been hired to create awareness on social medias or make the service/business/brand popular then you have to use forums,blogs,twitter,say interesting stuff,create content which people want to read leading them to the fan page.The content is also very important and whatever you do there should be a human angle to all of it.Also remember if you join a fan page your friends will be motivated to look at that page,here it helps to have a good logo and a catchy name.
Many other ways exist I used them for my work over the last 6 years,and still continue to do so.Share stuff,be humble add value to the life's of others :) and do not take it seriously you are connecting with people and it is about FUN and then business.
Exactly! You need to be there as 'The Person' as well as 'The Business' to engage people socially. Have fun with them and get to know them all the while BRANDING your product so they know where to go when they need that service
These Social media tools help if you think as your followers not as prospective customers, but as normal people. In my case my followers, start contacting me once they start finding useful information or interesting articles, and from time to time I include product offers. but always without the sales pitch.

Those followers have their own social circles and they will also recommend your products or services to their friends and neighbors if they trust you. It's creating hype what all these is about ... then the next step is people will contact and try to find out more, all without the sales pitch.

Rick Fitzgerald
Outlet Season
Online Store
Wood Division
Doors Division

Doral Community Site
Small talk, usually helps to lighten the mood!
I prefer this tactic because I have never cared for hard sells very much.


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