When your business is just starting out, both capital and cash flow may be limited, and you need to grow your business by using elbow grease, also known as “bootstrapping” your business. It means you have to do a lot of manual tasks to get customers into your sales funnel.
Most people have a smart phone similar to an Iphone or Samsung Galaxy. So when you are at a red light, watching a movie, or just resting, these are some great tasks you can do from your phone or desktop computer. I typically do these types of things when I am not at my desk, simply because when I am at my desk I am doing paperwork or other more complicated tasks.
Add Friends on Facebook
You get up to 5,000 friends on Facebook. Facebook just tweaked their algorithm so that posts by friends have more of a priority in peoples’ newsfeeds than a page post. And adding friends is free. Before doing this, ask yourself who your target audience is for your business. Are there certain types of people you like that will like what you post? Are there people that would be interested in content that relates to your business you could add as a friend? Remember, this is your friends page so they will see your restaurant check ins, your family photos, and your rants. So people you add will be your friends, as well as possible buyers. It is a fine line and you have to balance it out how you want to go about it. But if you don’t have 5,000 friends, you are missing out on a natural backbone of your business – your family and friends. The more you have, the more help you will get.
One way to find friends is to check and see if there are any groups out there that cover topics you are interested in or relate to your product. So if you sell space food, you could check out the Space X group or the NASA group on Facebook. If you graduated from college or a high school, you could see if there is a business group out there for your school. Then look at the members list and add as many of those people as possible if you think they will be good friends and it is appropriate.
A word of caution is this. Facebook has ways to check to make sure you aren’t adding too many people too fast. One way around this is by adding people you have a lot of mutual friends with already. So you can add friends using mutual friends. I always try to add people with at least 3 mutual friends as me. If Facebook gives you a warning that you are adding too many people, take a break for a day or two, then start again.
Follow People on Twitter
You can follow up to 2,000 people at a time on Twitter initially. Typically I have found that if you follow someone, they will follow you back 20-30% of the time. But you want to have people follow you who will help your business or will relate to the content you are putting out. How do you do this? Go to other peoples’ pages who are similar to yours or who have crossover appeal to what you are doing. Follow other companies’ followers. You can also find public lists out there and follow all those people if it relates to you. Keep following people until you hit 2,000. Then after a while, if someone hasn’t interacted with you or followed you, then you can unfollow them since they didn’t reciprocate the relationship, which will give you more followers freed up to add other people who might follow you back.
Add People on LinkedIn
LinkedIn gives you 3,000 invites before you max out invites (asking people to connect with you on LinkedIn). There are all sorts of ways to add people on LinkedIn. You can search by groups, companies, management position, location, and many more. Add as many of these people you can who are 2nd connections. Join groups to make all the group members 2nd connections. If you know them, add them for sure. Check out the connections of people you know, maybe you will recognize somebody? Add them.
Recap of First Few Steps
Ok so by now you have added 5,000 Facebook friends. You have followed 2,000 people on Twitter. And you have invited 3,000 people to LinkedIn. Based on who adds you back on Twitter and LinkedIn, you probably have about 7,000 total people in your network. That is a great start for your business, and it was all free.
On your social media sites, you need to put out content that your friends will like (by friends, we mean Facebook friends, LinkedIn connections, and Twitter followers). Each site has a feel of its own. But you need to learn what those are and start putting out articles, updates, images, and videos that your people will like. Remember, LinkedIn is professional – so no politics, personal family photos, or religion or anything that wouldn’t happen in a professional business setting. Twitter is short and sweet – so you can put out sound bites and short snippets that will get peoples’ attention. Facebook – anything goes as long as it doesn’t completely alienate your friends. Don’t upload pictures that are disturbing. But people expect to see personal photos, controversial topics, and things like this on Facebook. In fact, your stuff will get more visibility on Facebook if you can get a good debate going. That is sometimes good, sometimes bad. You have to make the call for your business. You need to put out content and share things that your people will like or are interested in.
Create a Blog and Write Articles
You can make a blog for free at Blogger.com, WordPress.org, Medium.com, Tumblr.com, and several others. These are not recommended for the long term (a full-fledged website is recommended for long term), but are free and can get you set up so you can start putting out articles. This is essential. Sure you don’t have time. But you need to at least write something to stay current with the times for your industry, minimum once a month. But if you can do more, like several times a week, or even daily, that would be huge for your business. But as a busy business owner, it probably isn’t going to happen if you are bootstrapping. So publish content relevant to your industry when you get time. Become an expert in your field. There is so much information out there, people need trusted sources that they have verified they know what they are talking about. Do they believe you, or some guy they never met and can’t verify? I would believe you if I knew you from Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. After all, you would be in my social circle of trust.
This will get people coming back to your blog. It will create a good search presence for you on the web. You can then link to your social sites and your business website. It will give you good SEO support via backlinks and relevancy, and it will keep your articles “in house” as opposed to sending them to someone else’s blog. You can send people to other blogs and news sites, in fact you have to. But you want to try and get people coming to your blog by writing content as much as possible.
It is About Relationships
On all your social media sites, the entertainment ratio vs business posts should be like 7-1. Don’t put out too much about your business. Just enough to let people know what you do. But for the most part, try to actually get to know the people on your friends lists. Make sure you give a darn about what they are up to by “liking” and “retweeting” and “commenting” on their stuff. Try to say Happy Birthday to people on their birthdays. Invest in your friends. They are going to be your base of support for anything you do in life. So make it a top priority.
Ensure People Know What You Do
I have a lot of friends I don’t even know what they do for work or their business. So you have to at least let them know what you do. Occasionally say something about your business, but don’t be sales-y. Just let them know what you do. That way if they like you or trust you, they will reach out when the time is right. If you out right need help with something, ask. Say you need a supplier who does packaging. Ask your friends. If you need someone to share a promotion, ask your friends. If you need funding, ask. Just don’t do it daily or too much. Only if you really need help and are in a bind. Your friends will be able to tell if you are sincere.
Take Advantage of Direct Messages
You can direct message people and tweet people directly on Twitter. You can tag people on Facebook, and can message them privately. You can send people messages on LinkedIn if they are a connection. Try to reach out to a few people a day, get to know them. Find out what they need help with. Try to help them. They will try to help you too. This kind of goes in hand with relationship building mentioned above, but this is a more direct way. Don’t just blast content to the four winds all the time, reach out to people. You can even invite them to lunch if you think there is something bigger to discuss, like hiring them as a subcontractor, them hiring you, or setting them up as a distributor, or a partnership etc.
Build a Facebook Page
Once you have maxed out your followers and friends you can boot strap, create a Facebook business page. This is a great indirect way of letting your friends know what you do, because all of them will see your invite. You can invite all 5,000 of your friends to your business page, you can post that business page on Twitter and LinkedIn for people to follow. You can mention it on your blog. Start putting out content on your Facebook Page. It won’t get the interaction your friends page will, but it will still help and is a great foundation for the next step of expanding your business’s social media presence.
There is always more to do. But if you do these steps, you will be a social media super hero and your business is going to get sales, customers, and reach. And all of this is free. It just takes time. So you have to balance all this with actually growing your business systems and executing tasks.
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