This post is part 3 of a 5 part series on creating lifelong customers. Social media has changed dramatically the marketing landscape. It is the new way to introduce yourself to potential customers. Companies also often do it wrong. We were using social media in the wrong way for our business. We were using the wrong platform. Your business will generate more leads with social media if you avoid these three key mistakes: going for the direct sale, using the wrong network and being inconsistent. Doing this right is also key to developing lifelong customers.

Avoid Going for the Direct Sale on Social Media

I think it is because social media is seen as the new magical answer for business to generate leads. Companies create an account and then start sending updates with products for sale. It’s a little bit like a man walking down the sidewalk of a busy street shouting about his new financial product. Lots of people hear what he is saying. Few listen. No one wants to talk with him.

I have seen people get to this place in one of two ways. First, they are sales focused, which is a strength in some situations, just not this one. They feel comfortable talking with people and pointing out the benefits of their product. They do it in sales meeting after sales meeting. They naturally start to do this in 140 characters on Twitter. Second, someone comes in never talking about sales. This person forms relationships and focuses on the social part of social media. They don’t get very much business so they begin to post offers. Soon they become comfortable and slip into number one. These are both normal ways to learn how to do social media.

You are better off just doing it right. 90% of your updates should be information that your target market will find valuable. 10% can be about an offer. The internet is a very low trust environment. Your offer should be designed to earn your potential client’s trust. Deliver before selling. I am blogging for a reason, but you haven’t seen any offers. There’s a reason.

Be on the Right Social Media Network

There are so many social media networks. Unless you have a lot of resources, it is a mistake to try to be on all of them. It’s also a mistake to be on the wrong one. It doesn’t matter what everyone says about the best social network. It comes down to one question: Where are your customers?

Facebook has 1.19 billion active monthly users. That’s 15% of the entire human race. Your audience is on Facebook. Facebook ads are becoming more and more necessary to grow your audience. Facebook offers excellent targeting options to target ads based on interest. You can target someone based on detailed interests in your city or across the planet. For more on marketing on Facebook check out Jon Loomer.

Twitter is a place to meet new people. Expanding your network is as simple as finding your target market, following them and waiting for them to follow back. The stream moves fast but it s a great place to network. I have done business with people who I’ve met on Twitter. Learn about marketing on Twitter by reading The Tao of Twitter.

LinkedIn is not just for looking for work. LinkedIn has become the social network for business. There are valuable sales tools and ways to contact potential clients. If you market or sell in the b2b arena, you must be on LinkedIn. One hint: Check out (or start) a few groups designed to attract potential customers.

Google+ will be a game changer. Google has ruffled some feathers over changes in how gmail works. They will allow you to email most people (but not everyone) . Whatever your point of view, Google has dramatically changed the entire company by turning Google+ into the hub that connects all things Google. I think it is a smart bet to start interacting on Google+. Google+ has Twitter’s advantage of being able to reach out and connect and Facebook’s advantage of a good medium to have conversations and develop relationships.

Do Social Media Consistently

It may take some trial and error testing to see which social network is the best fit for your company, You can monitor your content mix to ensure that you aren’t publishing sales content too often (or not often enough).  The real difficulty in content marketing is being consistent. There are a few tactics that you can implement to help including setting up an autoresponder campaign and working ahead to cover times when you are too busy. If you fail at this, you are constantly restarting relationships which is a little harder each time. I’ve found a few tricks that have helped me be more consistent.

Set realistic goals and build from there. It is not realistic to develop profiles and audiences on all of the major social media networks in a week. You could complete a profile, begin publishing useful links and connect with people on one network. If you set your goals too high, starting becomes even more daunting. You are better of setting realistic goals, following through and then adding more when it is easy.

Focus on your successes. Imagine sitting down to write a blog post and only getting 50 words done. Now focus on the failure. You only wrote 50 words. Not the magic 500 that everyone talks about. How motivated are you after that? Now, imagine yourself focusing on the fact that you started. You have words in the computer. Next time you’ll write more. Be excited about the victory of starting. How is your motivation now? I find that focusing on what I have done well motivates me to do more, better and faster. Focusing on my failures leaves me watching TV and wasting time.

Work ahead. We all get busy. There are times when we can’t write. Sometimes this is a predictable time crunch like the end of the month billing. Sometimes there is no warning. If you have a month of content scheduled, neither of these situations is as difficult as you might think.

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