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By Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing

Is this you?

You're an independent professionals with a small practice and generate from $50K to $200K in sales every year. 

If yes, should you put time and effort into social media, or is it a waste of time? Does it work and can you make it work for you? 

This analogy might help. 

Years ago I did a lot of networking and did get some clients that way, but I and my clients noticed something rather disconcerting: 

Most of the people at networking events were sellers not buyers (including us). 

Everyone wanted to talk about their business, but few were interested in hearing about other people's businesses. 

This is why a large percentage of my clients didn't enjoy networking – because it didn't get very good results. 

Fast forward fifteen or twenty years and live networking has been replaced to a large degree with online networking – more commonly called social media. 

But the situation is very similar to networking – more sellers than buyers. 

Everyone is always promoting themselves on social media, but very few are tuning-in to that promotion, let alone buying the services of those promoting. 

One of the innovations of social media are groups - primarily in Facebook and LinkedIn. 

Groups are very popular, as the members are people like you and me who are relatively easy to connect with. 

But then the group moderator fails to put controls on the group and many people start posting promotional posts with links to articles, programs and web content. This is called "content spamming."

Pretty soon, most of the posts are promotional. Everyone is selling and nobody is buying. Conversations dwindle and few people are building relationships with others in the group.

Given this situation is it even possible to attract new clients on social media? 

What's a poor independent professional to do?

Following are some of my thoughts. Even though social media is not a prime source of clients, here are a few things that have worked for me.  

1. Don't expect to post on social media and expect someone to contact you, ready to do business with you. It doesn't work like that. It takes time, often a lot of time. Like any other marketing, you want to build both visibility and value. So you need to post valuable stuff frequently. A post or two won't make an impact. A few a day can. This is a marathon, not a sprint. 

2. Spend more time contributing to others than promoting on social media. Answer questions, offer resources, in some cases sending them to an article (blog post) on your site that answers their question in more depth. This way, your promotion is indirect and appreciated more. Also, point to other valuable resources, not just yours. But as I said above, don't do "article spamming" where you do nothing but post links to your own content. 

3. Consider putting more time into building an email list rather than getting followers on social media. A McKinsey report showed that email is 40 times more effective than Facebook and Twitter combined. 

That means that for every $1 invested in email marketing, is takes $40 to get the same results with social media. That should make you think!

Almost twenty years ago I realized how important email was and put a lot of time and energy into building my email list and sending out a weekly eZine. 

I build visibility and credibility with the eZine and don't use it much to directly promote or sell my services.

But when I want to promote a program or my coaching services, I send the promotions to my list and very few people object because of the value I've provided for so long. 

Now it takes only two or three promotional emails to attract enough clients to fill my calendar with clients for six to nine months. 

4. Turn your eZine (email newsletter) into a weekly blog post and then send your social media followers to your blog. This gets me 100 or more people to view my blog each week who are not on my email list and also gets people to sign up for the eZine. 

5. Use Facebook Groups to find resources and ideas. This is how I primarily use the Wisdompreneurs group. If I'm looking for an idea, I just ask a question. This sometimes results in good exchanges and new ideas I can use. This really isn't marketing, but it sure makes a difference to me. Wisdompreneurs also has a weekly promotional thread and that's the only place you can promote there. 

6. Make requests in groups for marketing connections. For instance, you might learn that another group member recently gave a talk at a conference. Send that person a private message and see if they'll give you the contact for getting booked at that conference in the future. In Wisdompreneurs I learned that a member had been interviewed for a podcast. So I found the person who did the podcast and asked if they'd like to interview me. She did! And then I asked the group if they knew other podcasts where I could be interviewed. And I got three more interviews. These are great indirect ways of getting exposure, growing your list and attracting new clients. 

7. If you really want to leverage social media to market yourself, you need to learn more. Some of these approaches are tricky. I recommend Social Media Examiner and Content Marketing Institute. Both have exceptional, well-researched articles on social media and content marketing. 

Ultimately, I found that for my business, social media marketing was not as important as sending emails to my list and occasionally doing talks, teleclasses and webinars. Those now attract all the clients I need with a lot less work. 

Nevertheless, social media can be a useful addition to your marketing mix. But if you want to take it to the next level, like everything else, you need to study and work hard at it. 

I'd love to hear any ideas of how you've used social media to successfully attract new clients. Just post in the comments section below. 

Cheers, Robert Middleton

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Robert Middleton, the owner of Action Plan Marketing, has for 30 years, been helping Self-Employed Professionals attract more of their ideal clients.  He offers the online membership site, The More Clients Club, and individual coaching and consulting through his Marketing Action Coaching. If this is your first visit to the More Clients blog, make sure to get a copy of the Marketing Plan Workbook and join the Marketing Club Forum for free.