Top Social Media Tools For Consultants

There are so many social media tools available it can be overwhelming to choose which to use and how to allocate your time.

Here are my thoughts on which tools are the best choices.

The big four are Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and blogs.

Facebook is by far the largest social media site with over 600 million users worldwide, and 51% of the US population using the site each day (Edison/Arbitron).  LinkedIn and Twitter are much smaller, used by 9% and 8% of the US population, respectively (Ediston/Arbitron), but are highly relevant for business professionals.

Given its massive reach, Facebook is a great place to be, but not appropriate for everyone.  For example, if your business model is to sell to many, Facebook might be appropriate, and if your model is to service only a few clients, then maintaining a Facebook page is most likely not worthwhile.  Facebook is a great tool for maintaining and strengthening relationships, staying top of mind, increasing thought leadership, and ultimately selling a product or service (but this shouldn’t be your primary goal).

While LinkedIn isn’t as huge as Facebook, it’s a must do for most consultants.  Many check LinkedIn profiles after meeting a person for the first time, and those hiring often check a person’s profile in the hiring process.  So it’s important to have a robust profile with a good number of connections, complete information, and recommendations.  Other ways to showcase your thought leadership and expertise are to link your blog and Twitter feed, as well as SlideShare account.  Beyond having a LinkedIn profile, consultants can gain information and network on Groups, and highlight expertise by providing Answers.  And of course there are many job opportunities on LinkedIn.

Twitter is similar in size to LinkedIn, and while not appropriate for everyone, can be highly useful to many.  A recent Jay Baer article quoted Morgan Stewart of Trendline Interactive saying “Comparing Facebook and Twitter is like comparing shopping malls and fashion shows. Malls, like Facebook, have mass appeal and are an expression of larger culture. In contrast, while only a small subset of the population actually attend fashion shows, the interactions that happen there influence the larger culture. Twitter is where online influencers congregate and share new ideas, and that alone is significant.”  I thought that was a great analogy.  Influencers are on Twitter and are fairly accessible.  This makes Twitter a great place to be if you want to get your message out to a broader audience.  And, if you are in marketing or PR you should probably be on Twitter to show that you understand the marketing medium.

Blogs are also a great tool for consultants.  Blog articles can be syndicated to Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, and showcase expertise and build thought leadership.  People like to share valuable content, so creating quality articles will get your message to a larger audience.  Lastly, it is totally appropriate to showcase your products and services on your blog or drive people to your site for that information, hopefully closing a sale.

What social media tools do you think are the most valuable for consultants?

rmelia@gmail.com' About Rachel Melia

Rachel is an Online Marketing Consultant specializing in social media marketing, with an emphasis on Facebook marketing. Rachel also serves as WIC's Online Marketing Director overseeing the WIC website and social media presence including WIC's blog, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube.

Learn more and connect: www.rachelmelia.com, www.twitter.com/rachelmelia, www.linkedin/in/rachelmelia

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