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If you want to grow your business you want more people to hear about it and to connect with you. So you start using social media – because everyone else seems to be on it now. Then you hear that you need to be on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram – and the list is growing. Pretty quickly social media marketing can become overwhelming. So what do you do? Read on to find out.

So how can you expand your network, build your profile, raise your visibility, without wasting valuable business time on various social media networks?

So maybe you feel scared before you even started and you don't want to waste time. Or maybe you've tried it for some time without much success. Or possibly you are getting on well, having some success with promoting your business. But all in all, are you doing the right things at the right time, or will it turn to a waste of time and effort in the long run?

Step 1: connect and engage with the right people on social media.

With millions and millions of users of each social media network, it's easy to focus on "vanity metrics" and spend your time trying to get the most followers and fans for your business. But unless you are connecting with the right people – potential clients and partners – the numbers will mean nothing.

For example, if you are a coach and are connecting with lots of other coaches, you will have great conversations about coaching techniques and practices, but no one will gain new clients. If you connect with small business owners talking about business overwhelm or being stressed – you are more likely to get them as your clients or refer you to clients.

In order to find the right people on social networks, you need to be pretty clear yourself on who these people are: where do they live? What do they do? What do they talk about? Are they male or female? What other interests do they have?  Exploring your client profile in detail is a very important step in planning your marketing, whether online or offline.

Step 2: balance social and marketing for an engaging mix of content.

SOCIAL media MARKETING is about being social, I.e. engaging with other users, and about marketing, I.e. promoting your business, products and offers. If you spend too much on one or the other the balance will be broken – either you will be spending too much time on just social interactions and having fun. Nothing's wrong with that obviously, but usually it's not a goal you would set for your business marketing.

Or your social networks will get filled with marketing messages sell-sell-selling your stuff to others without any engagement or personal touch to it. No one want to just get a stream of blog posts and special offers on your Twitter profile, hence it's important to strike this balance.

Step 3: less is more, you don't have to be on ALL social media networks at once.

It's better to get started with just one-two social media channels and do it well, rather than set yourself up on ALL social media networks and fail spectacularly. As a social media manager, I keep track of development in various networks at the same time, I spend my professional development time learning about and upgrading my skills for each social network.

But that's the business I'm in – unless I'm knowledgeable about social media marketing I won't be able to consult my clients effectively.

Your business as a coach or a consultant is different, and it will be impractical for your to waste hours and hours each week trying to catch up with what's going on in the world of social media and keep endless social networks updated all the time.

So don't feel bad about not being everywhere. Choose what you like and where you ideal clients are already present – whether it's Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or LinkedIn – and get started. Once you get used to one or two and start seeing some success with it, add more social media networks to your practice.

Step 4: use marketing tools effectively to save time and to track your efforts.

There are numerous digital marketing tools available to help you automate your message, create images online, track and analyse your results.

The same advice applies here – you don't need to have 10s of tools set up to be successful on social media. Yes, it helps to dive into stats and work out at a deeper level what really works and when, but not when you are getting started or working on your own.

The bare minimum you need to get is network's own built-in analytics tool (Insight for Facebook, Analytics for Twitter or LinkedIn) plus Google Analytics which will not only track goals conversion for your website, but also give you a good overview on what's working for your website in addition to social media marketing.

Step 5: have fun in doing it and be authentic with your messages and branding.

When you are using social media to promote your business, you are your brand. So whatever you say needs to be representative of your brand's voice and personality.

If your brand is professional and serious, your messages need to follow suit. If your brand is playful and quirky, don't be afraid to show this side of your personality.

When you are the business as a solo-preneurs potential clients will be connecting not just with your business as a service they can hire, but with you as the person will be delivering this service to them. If they are looking for a coach, and they get interested in the content of your "marketing" messages on social media – they will still be looking for the right connection with you as a professional before they sign up for the 1-2-1 coaching services.

So your "social" and your "marketing" elements of social media marketing need to be congruent and mutually-supportive in order to work effectively, rather than wasting your time and efforts.

About the Author:
My name is Tamara Baranova. I run TJConsulting and I help small business owners grow their business by delivering effective online marketing mentoring, support and training. My clients see their business succeed, grow fast, and generate healthy profits through online marketing strategy that works.

Want to know more? Go to my website http://www.tjconsulting.co.uk to grab my free eCourse, 7 Steps to Online Marketing Mastery, and learn how to plan your unique social media strategy. Use our step-by-step jargon-free guides to master all popular online marketing tools: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, email, blogging, and more!

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