by Suzi Pomerantz
To grow your coaching business or practice, it is no longer acceptable NOT to be engaged in social media. That luxury has passed. If you were waiting for this "fad" to go away, it’s time for a mindset shift! Here’s why social media is ideal for coaches:
1. It's networking at its best: across all time zones, from the comforts of your own home and aligned with the best coaching mindsets of service, connection and contribution.
2. It's free: free marketing opportunities work in every budget, in every economy.
3. It's a platform to do what you do best: engage in conversation, share wisdom, and be truly global.
So what is social media? It is a series of online platforms that utilize Web 2.0 technology, which is basically anything that lets you interact and participate rather than just read. Blogs and wikis are part of social media, but in this article we'll just discuss social networks.
For coaches, the key uses of social media are to build your brand, increase your visibility and exposure, network internationally, share your wisdom, find service providers, have conversations with clients, prospective clients, and colleagues, and create opportunities for large-scale collaborations.
General Social Networking Strategies
- Each site has its own culture, personality, etiquette, and communication protocols, so take some time to get to know each one before you dive in. Design your profile once and then customize it to fit each site.
- If you have a blog, use a service such as Tweetmeme or TwitThis so it's easy for your blog readers to publicize your post on Twitter. You can also connect your blog to your social network accounts so each new post is automatically distributed to your network.
- Be sure to connect your Twitter, Linked In, and Facebook to each other so each post is leveraged and shows up in all three places.
The Big Three Social Networks
There are literally hundreds of online social networks you can join, but these are the Top 3.
LinkedIn: This one is primarily professional, although to the extent that you serve as a connector of others, you may wish to include your broader community as well. The power of LinkedIn for coaches is in the Groups function (search for "coaching" and you will find many potential groups to connect with) as well as the Questions and Answers sections (position yourself as an expert by answering questions in your specialty area). LinkedIn has nearly 50 million users from over 200 countries, and has been around long enough to rank very high on search engine rankings pages.
Facebook: This one is primarily social, although many businesses are using both profile pages and Fan Pages to engage in conversation with clients and stakeholders. As a coach, I definitely recommend having both a profile page for you and a Fan Page for your business. If you have any products, you can also create a Fan Page for each product. Facebook has over 300 million people on it, and while that’s an outrageous number of people to try to target, especially for coaches, you can’t beat that kind of free marketing exposure opportunity!
Twitter: The power of Twitter is the ability to network and be in an online streaming conversation with 44 million people all over the world. Unlike Linked In and Facebook, relationships are not reciprocal, which means you don’t have to approve invitations to connect. People become your "follower" and you can follow whomever you choose: thought leaders, authors, celebrities, politicians, other coaches, executives, etc. Sign up for a Twitter account and secure that "real estate" in your name, your company’s name, and any brands or products you carry. Tweets are short posts of 140 characters, usually with links embedded. This makes tweeting very speedy.
The Big Three Coaching Networks
Because social media is so ideal for coaches, there are now many coach-specific social networks. Here are three that you might begin with, and all are free to join:
The Coach Exchange (tce): tce is an elite coach-to-coach network for showcasing talent and sharing knowledge, resources and vision. This is where coaches and opportunity meet!
The Coaching Commons: A non-partisan "big tent," under which coaches can freely create the future together in a non-commercial setting.
Leading Coaches’ Center: LCC is an online community center for executive coaches, where leaders play, learn, contribute and advance our profession together.
Coaching is about profound connections and social media is perfect for coaches because it is basically a set of tools to support and foster expanded connections! Get involved, get online and play in one or all of the social networks discussed in this article. You owe it to yourself and your future.
Suzi Pomerantz, MT, MCC is an award-winning master executive coach and author of Seal the Deal. She teaches at top coach training programs worldwide and co-founded ICCO as well as the Library of Professional Coaching. Suzi founded the Leading Coaches Center and invites you to connect! http://LeadingCoachesCenter.com.