“Friends! How many of us have them? Friends! Ones we can depend on.”
Whodini’s legendary 1984 hip-hop single “Friends” is a coming of age story. “Friends” and the concept of a coming of age story is what came to mind during a text conversation with a friend who is an entrepreneur. We were discussing writing and topics for his entrepreneur/small business blog, when one idea that I’ve grappled with internally found its way back into focus. It is a topic that requires the maturation seen within a coming of age tale within the construct of being an entrepreneur– how to catalyze social media followers into a client base? This is an important topic to entrepreneurs, especially those with a social media presence. Often times, through no fault of their own, entrepreneurs seek to gain an immediate critical mass of followers without any strategy or plan to filter or engage those followers into becoming reliable clients or customers. This leads me to ask, “how can we help entrepreneurs or everyday people leverage their social media presence beyond a promotional tool into a client base, referral tool, and more?” We will explore subtopics within three macro topics: content & engagement; identifying potential clientele without being a creep; and, faith, patience, planning & perseverance. These are topic areas that I believe any entrepreneur should start with when marketing and building their brand.
First, content & engagement is vital because it is an entrepreneur’s business and how they make a living. That is why it is so important that there is a content & engagement plan that clearly and concisely lays out in detail the plan of success for your business; for you and anybody else that is to see it. This plan should identify the appropriate social media platforms for certain audiences and outcomes. A clear and concise content & engagement plan should be a thorough outline of one’s business plan that is outlined by one’s “elevator pitch.” Next, when looking at content & engagement strategy, entrepreneurs should seek to engage their social media followers in a participatory manner. This can be done with user polls or surveys (Facebook and Instagram) or recommendations (Facebooks) or tags (all platforms). Regardless of what social media or other engagement tools are used, businesses should be continuously adjusting to proactively meet or predict the demands of the market (clients) in real time. This can be achieved through an emphasis on flexibility, attentiveness, and promptness. Moreover, the content and services of a business must use those attributes to address client needs and issues with the intent of building a long-term relationship. An example of accomplishing a long-term relationship is the use of videos that tease high-demand content or services, and then subsequently offers a trial or promotion to purchase the full services to get them to invest in one’s business. Altogether, this creates an opportunity for businesses to identify content and service needs and building their client base.
Secondly, entrepreneurs must identify potential clientele leads without being a social media creep. It sounds simple enough, but it is easier said than done. However, there are also three critical ways to avoid this issue: targeted advertisements on social media via predicative analytics; avoid sending and receiving thirst traps or overselling content and services; and, avoid sending and receiving creepy DMs (direct messages). We are aware of the affects that many predictive analytic tools and algorithms that companies like Amazon, Google, and others use via social media platforms to track, manipulate, and compel consumer habits. Businesses that advertise using these passive or subliminal means of marketing and client recruitment are staying ahead of the curve, competing at the highest level, and can leverage such metadata to build their existing business or start complimentary businesses based on what information is presented. In addition, avoid overselling the brand or thirst trapping by seeking and demonstrating authenticity which may take more time in order to build the rapport, but it will be worth it in the end.
Also, avoiding sending and receiving creepy DMs seems simple enough; but, if it’s so easy to get caught up in that web for our personal lives (for free), then it is even easier to do it when one’s livelihood is at stake. The key to avoiding sending creepy DMs to attract clientele is by: 1. Proper framing or introduction (i.e. avoid sounding like you’re selling a pyramid scheme); 2. Clearly and concisely state the who, what, why, and how of the business; 3. Give them a tease or trial to pull them in; 4. Be professional and authentic; and, 5. Provide clear contact information and accountability for follow-up to show that you are invested in making a business relationship work. Similarly, in regards to appropriately handling receiving creepy DMs, I’d advise the following: 1. Always remain professional; 2. Focus on the content and services available based on any statements made, assumptions based on their questions or social media profile, etc.; 3. Be open to answer any questions and clearly & concisely answer them; and, 4. Do not be afraid to end the conversation should it get out of control. Identifying potential clientele in a healthy manner then sets up a business for a greater output and dividend.
Lastly, an entrepreneur should rely on their faith, patience, planning, and perseverance to succeed in transitioning social media followers into a stable and thriving client base. Highlighted have been some trainable skill and tools to help entrepreneurs to use; but, the truth is that those four traits will help sustain any entrepreneur and their business longer than any skill or tool in good and bad times. Those are the traits that fulfill the fact that their business is indeed their passion and that it will provide a joy that the world can neither give nor take away. However, any entrepreneur should pursue their faith, patience, planning, and perseverance by moving aggressively and strategically, and with an understanding of what is needed to succeed in the long and short term.
In all, any business in today’s social media-driven world needs to attract followers and then catalyze a healthy percentage of those followers into a sustainable client base. In order to achieve a sustainable client base, a content & engagement plan is needed along with identifying potential in a discernable manner and leaning on one’s faith, patience, planning, and perseverance. There are many other skills and tools needed to achieve success in that were not mentioned which may work depending on the individual and business. But, being an entrepreneur and owning a business a high-risk endeavor which requires friends and for support and growth. That is why Whodini, whether discussing friends or clients, was so prescient in asking about them and how many of them that we have and can depend on. It is needed now on this journey more than ever before.