The number of people connected on Facebook is roughly equal to China’s population -- 1.35 billion. And with a total of 3 billion (and counting) people online, we now have the power to reach more individuals, build stronger communities and have a greater impact than ever before.
People now have the power to build their own public platforms. For women, this new reality provides an opportunity to completely bypass traditional power structures.
But with this power comes great responsibility (as Spider-Man’s uncle Ben wisely noted). So, carefully consider your goals and the type of difference you want to make before building a platform. Stay rooted in your core values because what you do online will shape your legacy. Once you understand the impact you want to make, you can use social tools to break into the business world to make a big and direct impact on the people who need you.
Why are social platforms so important for women entrepreneurs? In traditional business settings, men still dominate in positions of power. Only 8.1 percent of top earners and 14.6 percent of executive officers in corporate America are women.
But women are making progress, and, for those of us who are up for it, we can definitely fight the “Lean In” fight. Because the online landscape isn’t traditional, it has fewer barriers, and it provides a completely new way to break through, serve lots of people and make a major difference while building a purpose-driven company.
Because of this, I see the online marketplace as a “female frontier” -- one that I encourage more women to join. Here are three tips to help women entrepreneurs take advantage of the online marketplace:
1. Get personal.
Marketing is all about your story. So, start developing your own personal brand by crafting and sharing your story. Your “signature story” could be the story of why you started your business, the story of a pivotal moment or monumental shift in your life’s trajectory, or your description of some other major event that is relevant to what you are offering to prospective clients and customers. When people hear about your vulnerabilities and your failures in combination with your current-day success, they’ll be inspired to work with you.
Adrienne Graham, CEO of Empower Me! Corporation, struggled to connect with people online until she started an online radio show in which she highlights her triumphs and her trials. Now she has a community of loyal followers who tune in, to be inspired by her journey.
“In the beginning of my entrepreneurial journey, I didn’t have access to mentors or people who would or could help me,” Graham said. “I vowed that when I was successful, I would help women like me level the playing field.”
2. Evoke emotions.
Many women don’t realize that emotions drive purchasing decisions. That is why campaigns such as Cadillac’s “Dare Greatly” are so successful. Marketing a vehicle’s trunk space and fuel efficiency can get you only so far. However, marketing the feeling of “daring greatly,” as Cadillac does brilliantly, helps the company make a connection with its target audience.
Facebook groups are another great way to connect on an emotional level with your target audience. An “open” Facebook group can help create brand awareness and spread your message, while “private” or “secret” members-only groups allow people to share frankly and feel supported in a safe, “judgment-free” zone.
3. Build relationships.
Entrepreneurs sometimes fall into the trap of promoting themselves only online. However, when all you do is post links to your products, webinars and training, your business comes off as spammy. You want to give and engage and develop relationships by sharing thoughts, ideas and advice before ever promoting your stuff online.
The key to all online and email marketing is to build a solid relationship and “give” a lot before you ask for anything. A good rule of thumb is Gina DeVee’s 90/10 rule: Your posts and emails should be 90 percent value, tips and pictures -- and only 10 percent promotion.
Social media is a powerful new frontier for business owners, particularly women entrepreneurs. To maximize the benefits, you should focus on sharing your story, showing vulnerability, connecting emotionally and developing relationships through giving.