Today I’m going to contradict practically every social media consultant in the world. Most experts say that the key to developing business using social media is to engage people (i.e., be “social”).
I disagree with them.
More specifically, I think that this focus on being “social” drives home the wrong point. Being social is simply not the most important factor in developing business with social media.
So what is the most important thing?
Content. Insightful, carefully-conceived, well-written “thought leadership” content that is aimed at a well-defined market niche. This includes articles, blog posts, podcasts and case studies, among other things. With these elements in place you will be able to leverage social media — not for socializing but as a distribution tool to get your content into the right hands and to grow your practice.
Why is content so important?
Prospective clients are looking for experts who can help them solve their problems. This means that if you're hoping to generate business online, you’ve got to build your reputation online as one of the leading experts in your niche. The way to do this is to have a website (or blog) full of fantastic thought leadership content for your followers to read. Without good content, you will have difficulty generating business, no matter how “engaging” you are on Twitter or LinkedIn.
Is being social a bad thing?
Absolutely not. Engaging with people online is a big plus. And, if you have the time, I highly recommend that you do it. It will help you build relationships and encourage followers — both important factors in developing new business. It’s just not the most important thing.