Define your Community

The key to any marketing effort is to define your target market. Developing leads through social networking applications is no different. The folks you add to your Facebook, LinkedIn contacts or Twitter’s tweets constitute your target market for business development. Since we are discussing social networking instead of direct marketing, I refer to these folks as your community. Most people, myself included, make a conscience effort to expand their communities by inviting as many people to join their network or to be their friend.

But the problem with this approach for business development is that your communities are not focused and you’ll have a mix of family, friends, neighbors, colleagues, client and prospects all sharing the same interface. So you’ll have your clients looking at posts from Uncle Joe, your high school buddies, mom and ex-girlfriends. Not only will your business contact see inappropriate comments at times, but more importantly, your message will get lost in the clutter and noise of social networking unfettered.

Step one is to create two separate identities. Set up new business only accounts using a separate email address. If you used your personal address for your accounts, then you can simply use your business address. If you already used your business address then you need to sign up for a new email account at any of the available services, such as Yahoo, Gmail, Google, etc. Most email services allow you to set up an automatic forwarding for incoming mail. This lets you route any incoming messages to your business account automatically. It also provides portability should you move on to another firm, simply change the settings to forward to your new business email address.

Step two is to populate your community with business contacts, If you are just starting out you just simply invite them. But it gets more complicated if you already have a blended mix in your existing communities. You’ll need to send them another invitation to your new account. Include a note explaining the purpose of the request, that it’s designed to provide a more business like community separate from friends and family.

Does it work?

I don’t know yet. Right now my “communities” are blended so I have to create a business identity. I will start with Facebook and set up a second business oriented account. Some of you that are already my friends in Facebook may see an invitation from me in the near future inviting you to my new account. (Of course you’re perfectly welcome to remain on my personal account if you are interested in seeing posts from my friends and family!)  I’ll post a follow up on any problems or complaints. I’ll also explore the problems with having two separate Facebook accounts, if any.

Next: Once you’ve created your business oriented community you need to generate business oriented communications.

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