For anyone who is new to social media, the thought of using it in your business can be a bit overwhelming. However, it looks like social media will be around for a while, so if your business isn’t taking advantage of the opportunities that it offers, it is time to jump on the bandwagon and see the value for your business. With a little time, and some training, I hope to de-mystify social media for you so that marketing your business using social media makes more sense and helps move your business forward.
Understanding Social Media
One of the key tips I give business owners who are unsure about social media is to start by just creating an account and snooping around. If you don’t have a separate business account, but you have a personal account, make sure you create a new account or page just for your business, so that you can keep personal and business information separate. You can gain a lot of information about how the social media site works simply by joining and following others. By the way, following others is a great way to gain fans for your page too.
How can you find social media followers?
To start, search and follow your top clients, vendors and colleagues. You can search for their name and/or their business pages on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and other sites (start with a few sites and you can always add more at a later time). You may also search for people you’ve met while networking, or follow national brands or industry leaders. Next, see what pages or people they are following, and follow them too. Notice the kind of information people are sharing with others. Sometimes it’s funny, sometimes it’s promotional, informational or conversational. What type of posts suit you and your company’s brand? What posts resonate with you or make you think of the company or person in a positive light? Social media is not simply about promotion. It’s about brand-building and awareness. If you think of social media as a kind of virtual business networking event, it can take the apprehension out of the process.
Beginning to Engage on Social Media
Now, when you’re comfortable, start posting on your own social media pages. This will help increase your visibility and followers, as well as help you engage with others online. Keep in mind the audience for whom you’re writing. It could be a combination of customers, prospects, vendors and the media. Some ideas for posts:
- Share and/or comment on an article you read online, with a link and credit to the source. Social media is about sharing information, so it’s okay that you didn’t personally write it.
- Mention an event you’re attending (tradeshow or workshop) with a link to the event or a photo of your booth.
- Link to an article, press release or other information on your website or blog.
- Share a quick tip that others might find useful. It can be your original tip or another person’s tip, as long as you credit the source.
- Pose a question to your fans and encourage them to answer on social media (do this once you have a few followers, or you’ll get no response).
- Give a shout-out or hello to new followers by mentioning them by name.
- Recommend a specific vendor or product that you endorse.
- Highlight an employee in your office by posting their picture and a little information about them.
- Celebrate a special (or not so special) occasion: someone’s birthday, the anniversary of your business opening, or even “bring your dog to work day.”
- Share your company’s charitable efforts by posting pictures of your company’s team at a charity walk, fundraiser or volunteer effort.
- Post products for sale and offer social media-only discounts.
These are just a few examples of things you can post on social media. Again, seeing what others are posting online can give you some ideas. In addition, just being aware of things around you – something you see in an email, something you hear at a conference, or even something that you hear around the water cooler – might help you discover ideas for a good social media post.
Finding Time to Post on Social Media
Now that you are more comfortable on social media, you and your team must find the time to post regularly in order to maintain visibility. This is often the biggest challenge for businesses, which often start on social media with good intentions, and then find that other priorities get in the way. If this is the case, consider outsourcing social media to a consultant or agency, who can keep you visible online, but still allow you to supplement with your own efforts as you have time. Get your team involved in social media training in order to ensure that they maintain consistency while representing your brand.
Although there is no cost associated with social media marketing other than your time and effort, I think you’ll find that there is value in getting involved with social media. Social media marketing can boost traffic to your website, and keeps you top-of-mind among your prospects, clients and industry leaders. The value in this alone can be enough to boost your business to the next level.