Business Networking Online Series: Best Practices for Sending Social Media Messages

By Vince Martellacci, Founder

The power of using social media to send messages is limitless. From lead generation to networking and building your tribe, a social network is a great place to leverage messaging. Specifically, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram work best for sending networking messages. If someone tells you people don’t like DMs, don’t listen. In this century, most marketers don’t mind
DMs. They are social media marketers, after all.

Revenue, loyal clients, and an active and helpful community on social media are all good reasons to send messages. I know of a smoke shop in San Diego that makes $5000 a month on Instagram selling their products (which would not be okay with Instagram so I can’t tell you who that is, unfortunately). And I always talk about the importance of building your tribe and authentically connecting with others on social networking sites. You could help each other out by trading skills, trading referrals, or trading social media knowledge. Read on to laser in on some best practices for networking on social media over messages.

Connect or Follow Them First

This is especially important on LinkedIn, which won’t let you message people you’re not connected with. On LinkedIn, spend some time using its search feature to find people to connect with. You can search by “People”, “Job Title”, and more. Connect to about 20-30 people at a time, as a lot of LinkedIn accounts are inactive or infrequently used. Whoever connects with you, send them a personal message thanking them. Then, get to the point, be brief and succinct, and tell them what you’re hoping to gain from the connection.

On Instagram and Twitter, it is also a good idea to follow someone, but you can do it at the same time as you message them. But on Twitter and Instagram there are ways to connect, in the literal sense, with people before you message them. Start a list in an excel sheet or organizing app and write them a few comments on Instagram (replies and retweets on Twitter) the week leading up to sending your message. As always, be thoughtful in your comments and replies. Never use the same comment twice, and don’t automate. The personal touch is the only way real networking works on social media.

If you need help with Instagram but cannot afford or don’t want management, I offer a one-time coaching call with an in-depth outline and game plan for you to refer back to so you can crush it on Instagram on your own.

The Message: Keep it Personal

This is easiest on LinkedIn, where you get everyone’s real first name. Always address them by their first name when thanking them for connecting on LinkedIn. Since you’ll have to wait for people to accept your connection request one-by-one, you can simply send each a brief message as they connect to you (brief is key on all three platforms. Don’t lose their interest just by confronting them with sheer volume of your message before they see the content of that message). The messages don’t have to be radically different--you could even copy and paste, if you are making everyone the same offer, and just change the first name.

Instagram and Twitter don’t always give you a first name. Personalize your message in other ways. I do not recommend saying “Hi [username]” because that can look automated. Instead, spend a minute on their account or website and tell them what you like about their account or brand.

Never Hard Sell

It may be most practical to simply start off by thanking them for connecting. Personalize that message with something that stood out to you about them, so they have a reason to thank you. Once they’ve responded, it’s finally time for you to tell them why you connected. Are you trying to build your network, did they seem like a good friend to have, or are you looking for their business?

Be succinct, be direct, and then back off. My method is to let them know what I do and ask if they’d be interested in any more information about those services. That takes all of three lines if done correctly. Sometimes, if I get a good sense of them from their profile, I let them know
I can offer case studies. Otherwise, I just offer more info. But to start with all that information would be a risk.

Social media marketing is like a networking event. Imagine, when you’re on social media, that you’re at a networking event: let them enjoy their drink a bit first, let their defenses come down a bit. Don’t run up to them after too many drinks and start telling them all about what you do before saying hi!

And if they’re not buying what you’re selling, the night is young and the place is packed.

This was a special preview from my other project, Mercury Marketer’s, new website and blog (in the works currently).