Planting the seeds for small business growth…Why isn’t Social Media working for me? As a small business owner, I can relate to getting excited when you are notified that another person “Liked” your Facebook Page. It reminds me of grade school when we passed notes and hoped with fingers crossed that our survey at the end of our note got us a YES on the “Do you like me?” question. We all want to be liked sooo bad. When you do get that “Like” notification, you get all giddy and have to go out and investigate this person. You ponder – I wonder how this person knows us?But later, the party is over and the “Like” notifications slow down. It appears all your cousins, neighbors and old work friends are have already “Like”ed your page and now you can’t think of one more person to ask. You buy a book on effective social media techniques and you keep your spirits high. You keep saying “If I build it – they will come”, but your posts begin to dwindle and next thing you know it’s been months since you have posted any new updates on your page.What next? Was this social media thing just a bust? Are you the lone social media derelict that cannot get any fans? You are just tired of hearing about it and when it comes up in conversation how one of your peers got a lead from Facebook, you simply want to rip their head off and do a Twitter dance all over it. It’s actually a little deflating and just brings back all those rejected school memories of when your note came back as a “NO!” You think, maybe nobody really does like me. LWell that is just hogwash and I am going to give your weary sad social media persona a facelift with just a few tips and tricks. The reason the popular kids in school got more popular and you didn’t is not because they were actually cooler than you (Ok maybe they were), but mostly it was because they knew how to work the system. While you are spending your time pasting snowflakes on windows, they were out there making connections! And, they never gave up.I believe the toughest issue to get through when establishing a social media presence for the small business owner is perception. There are a lot of social media “experts” out there that promise new business, riches and fame with a successful social media campaign. I encourage you to think of your social media accounts like you would a savings account. The more you contribute to it, the more it grows. And, the growth is compounded, just like your savings account. At first the growth is excruciatingly slow, but over time, with patience, it begins to blossom and then as the growth compounds, so does your account! And subsequently then your leads, business, or subscribers do as well!But, you say, “I did contribute and it just stalled out!” Well if your interest rate on your savings account goes down, do you just quit? No, you keep on keeping on, knowing that in time you will still see growth and the interest rate will go up and compounding will still occur. This is a principle you understand for money growth in a savings account and this principle applies to your social media growth as well.Here are some ideas to generate new growth, but remember, social media is like planting a garden. You plant the seeds (set up the accounts and do all the initial work to invite your immediate sphere of influence, like family, old co-workers, neighbors), then you water your garden (participate, participate, participate). If you don’t water your garden, it dies and so too will your social media strength. Don’t let non-activity fool you, just like you can’t be fooled because you don’t actually see the buds of your growing plants come out of the ground, yet. Be persistent and keep adding the water.Social Media Juicy TipsIdea #1- Expand you sphere of influence. Besides asking your family and friends to like your page, don’t forget about the dozens of people you do business with that deserve to have your loyalty already. People like your insurance agent, hairdresser, lawn service, mechanic, and so on. These folks already “owe” you because you are already their customer. Expect them to reciprocate by sending you business and being engaged with your social media.Idea #2- Go through the local phone book or your local coupons and note down some of the places you have done business with in the past or thought about doing business with (restaurants, dry cleaners, banks, or just about any business). Go find them in Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn and begin to follow them. Then, send them a direct message saying you appreciate their business and have joined their page and would appreciate it they would reciprocate by liking yours.Idea #3- This is especially helpful in Twitter, but can also be used in LinkedIn and Facebook. Start by going out and searching for keywords about your business or community and connecting with as many people as you can. Go outside the box of your thinking and follow as many new contacts as you can. Make it a goal to add 3 or 4 new connections a day, even if it is only one sided at this point. Once you do this, Twitter will start recommending new related contacts for you to follow. By building this network, even if you are on the following side only, many will come to you as well. I will guarantee that at least 1 out of every 10 people you begin to follow on Twitter will follow you back.Idea #4- Put your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn links on EVERYTHING! Website, business cards, letterheads, emails, invoices, advertising, signage, invitations. Craft a personal invitation to every correspondence you make to join you on Facebook or something similar. Something like “We are growing our Social Media community and would love for you to join us – Please follow us on Twitter – w3.twittermynamehere.”Idea #5- Similar to #4 and sure to get a couple of sympathy followers – Reach out to anyone, pick as many random people as you wish, with a personal message like – “I’m just starting out on social media – will you help me out by “Like”ing my page? – w3.myfacebookpagehere”.Idea #6- Join as many local networking groups as you can and be sure and exchange invitations to join each others social media accounts. Many local networks can be found online, especially on LinkedIn. Don’t forget to join as many groups as you can on LinkedIn to participate and get followers. Don’t be shy, they are there for the same reason.Idea #7- Start and maintain a blog. This last idea is the miracle grow “juice”. Find a free blog site or set up a more professional one (they are still dirt cheap) and pick 50 topics you can write anywhere from a paragraph to a page or two of information to share on social media. If you are in business or if you are trying to get into business, it should be easy to come up with at least 50 topics you can share without having to give away the store, so to speak. Topics can range from tips and tricks of your business, maintenance, industry news, local news relevant to your business, events or specials within your business, personal opinions about your industry and so on. Every time you post a new blog post, post a link to all your social media sites. Twitter and LinkedIn are especially great for this. My favorite is Twitter for this idea because I don’t feel weird about posting the same comment several times throughout the day to catch a potentially different audience.I know you want your social media presence to grow so take a few of these ideas and rejuvenate hope and passion back into your social media participation. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will your social media accounts be built in a day. Social Media Guru’s who claim you can are full of beans. Social Media is an investment and making sure you attend to that investment with care and persistence is the key to watching it grow. Oh yeah, have some fun with it too – always helps. Good luck!