The social media world seems to be a world of likes, of who follows your tweets and of how many contacts you have. My firm provides personal bookkeeping and daily money management services for individuals and families. Because our work is highly personal, we are discreet and our client list is confidential. Keeping in mind client privacy, is there a way we can use social media effectively?
LIZ CRYSTAL, OWNER THE LC GROUP -- PERSONAL BOOKKEEPING & DAILY MONEY MANAGEMENT SERVICES
Even firms that don't rely on providing "discreet" services to clients have a need to keep client lists "confidential," specifically, because your competition would love to know the names on that list to poach a few new customers. So your concern about privacy, while still leveraging social media, applies to many businesses, large and small.
As to your engagement in social media, remember that you have an expertise that delivers value to customers. Social media can provide a platform to highlight that expertise.
Consider a blog, in which you talk in general terms about the issues faced by individuals and businesses that can benefit from your services. With each blog post, send a link to those on your client list. This keeps existing customers connected to your business and provides a convenient channel to send reminders of services they should be using.
Meanwhile, become engaged in other facets of social media, building visibility for your expertise with those who aren't customers. Every one of those engagements should provide some link to your site, and the blog becomes an important "landing site" for that traffic. Each new post provides a reason for you to tweet or share status updates that tantalize new friends and followers into visiting your website.
Notice the "push" approach to your private list and the "pull" approach to potential clients. This keeps things clean and safe. However, don't forget to encourage your private list readers to forward your content to others -- a powerful form of prospecting.
Worry less about "how many contacts you have" and more about creating visibility with a small number of the right contacts--for you that means local individuals and small businesses.
Mike Porter, Ed. D., Director, Master of Business Communication Program, University of St. Thomas