How to Use Social Media to Grow Your Coaching Business
Social Media as an Investment
Many of us use Facebook and Twitter as part of our everyday conversations with friends and family but I would suggest as coaching business owners we need to adopt a different mindset towards using social media. Social media is a tool of our trade and as such using it becomes an investment in the growth of our business.
Let's start with a fundamental question which any business owner needs to ask before making an investment. What is the return on my investment going to be? After all we always ask athletes what they want to achieve when they inquire about our coaching services. In both cases the answer is always more complex than you spend $10 to return $80.
What is the Goal for Your Coaching Business?
I was recently approached by a potential customer for my triathlon coaching services. The first part of our conversation was around what they wanted to achieve. In this case it was a complex response which involved race goals, life style goals, and managing staff. As a business coach I'd be asking you the same question about your coaching business. What is your goal? Is it solely a business goal? Maybe you coach for other reasons. Whatever your response, only when this is identified you can set about developing the appropriate strategies to achieve your ambition.
Social Media as Part of Your Business Strategy
Part of your business strategy will be marketing your services. Quite simply this lets people know about the products and services you offer.
Social media will be a major part of your marketing strategy. As such it becomes part of your marketing budget. You can use Facebook, WordPress, LinkedIn, Twitter and the like at no charge except for your labor. If you give your time an hourly rate then you can appreciate how much you are going to invest in your effort. A blog may take 2 hours to write and post, tweets 15 minutes each, and a LinkedIn post 1 hour. This may be a spurious argument because you can do tweets and blogs when you are relaxing by the pool or have a spare minute waiting in a coffee shop, but if you are serious about growing a business then you want to know what return you are getting for your effort. You also want to target that effort to get the best return. Exactly the same process we would adopt to help our coaching clients use their training effort most productively.
Smart Social Media Investment
Only when you have absolute clarity about your coaching business goals should you ask: Who are your potential customers for each of your products or services? What is their need that you can satisfy?
Your investment in using social media now becomes targeted towards your coaching business goals rather than scatter gun. You can identify and use the social media which appeals to your target market. You can create content which is focused on your potential customers. This also means you can measure the return on your investment in line with what you set out to achieve and make adjustments if necessary. In this way using social media becomes a smart marketing tool for growing your coaching business.
Which Social Media Will be Most Successful?
This is very simple. What does your target audience read? Friends and acquaintances will be your easiest market and will often be friends on Facebook, in your Facebook and Google groups. Twitter is a good scatter gun since you may not know many of your followers. LinkedIn is a good place to gain corporate clients and you can now post blogs to LinkedIn. Pinterest, Tumblr and Instagram have specific types of user. Are they the people you want to attract? If so, write content specifically for this audience.
Blogs allow you to create more in-depth content and are good for building your reputation. You can promote your blogs using links on Twitter, Facebook, and your groups. Many of us use services like wordpress.com and Blogger for our blogs. These are brilliant and I use them for fun. For business put your blogs on your website since this is your shop window. Your blog will attract potential customers who may browse a while and make a purchase. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is compromised however if you duplicate the content so it's better to post in one place only. The adage; 'Content is King' means whatever channel you use needs good content. It's your content which attracts people to click through to your website; your shop front.
Keep your eyes open because other social media channels are on the rise. The key is to find out what your target audience is using.
Return On Investment
Return on investment (ROI), is where social media joins the realms of the dark arts. Let's not forget there are many people out there who need us to believe that social media is essential to our business growth. You will find no end of commentators who claim to be able to make thousands of dollars from their social media exploits. This may be possible. My business partners are a marketing company and they would never make this claim for a social media campaign. Social media is primarily a marketing tool, not a sales tool. Both Facebook and Twitter are currently developing new ways to change this so new sales avenues may open up in the near future.
Let's go back to the fundamental question. What do you want to achieve?
Social media will be part of your marketing strategy alongside many other options like magazine advertising, pay per click advertising, PR, email campaigns and good old word of mouth. Your marketing mix will be determined by what you want to achieve.
Some examples of what you want your social media marketing to achieve might be to:
Drive traffic to your website
Raise your profile
Establish your reputation
Sell training plans or training camp places
Sell product like clothing
Provide a public service
Follow these 7 steps to ascertain whether your social media is giving you an ROI:
Create a campaign for a specific product targeted at a specific group of potential clients.
Execute your campaign.
Check how many people have seen it through applications like Google analytics.
What happened to the sales of that product?
What did it cost you to run the campaign including your time?
What was your ROI?
Evaluate what worked and where you can make improvements in your next campaign.
Smart Social Media
There is no doubt that social media can play a part in growing your coaching business. As Stephen Covey said, "Begin with the end in mind', so create your social media campaigns with your business goals in mind. By targeting your effort and resources at a specific target market you can measure the success of each campaign. Then and only then will know what is working for your business.