Small business owners who are new to social media might feel intimidated and confused by sites like Facebook and Twitter. Throw sites like LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, and Google+ in to the mix and this may turn completely overwhelming. The good news is that it can be quite easy to get started using social media for your business, dare I say even a little fun, and it can even open up new possibilities and opportunities you may not have had without them.
Here are a few ideas and tips to simply get you started:
TAKE IT SLOWLY
You’ve heard over and over that social media is where you need to be and may feel an overwhelming push to dive right in head first. Sure, for those experienced and well versed in the do’s and don’t’s of social media, they will do a back flip on their first try. No need to feel intimidated. If you don’t understand why you are using a social media platform, then don’t use it. HOWEVER, make an effort to find out the benefits of that network over time and once you are comfortable, go ahead and test the water.
* quick tip: if you have a friend who knows social well, buy them lunch and pick their brain in person. Bring your laptop and get them to give you a demo! You can read and research until the cows come home but seeing a social media site live, in action, being explained by someone you know and trust can make all the difference.
PICK ONE SOCIAL MEDIA SITE TO START
While the goal is to be active on multiple platforms or sites, trying to do too much too fast can not only be overwhelming but it can also prevent you from learning how to effectively use each site. Choose one to start and spend a little time each day getting to know it. I recommend a Facebook Page as a great starting point, especially if you are already using it for personal use. Having a business page on Facebook means that friends, family and customers can easily “tag” your business in conversations, generating word-of-mouth advertising that can be seen by not only those in the conversation but those who are watching it in their newsfeed as well.
*quick tip: while you will only begin by using one platform, go ahead and simply sign up for some others you intend to eventually use, reserving your company name on the site. If you wait too long, you may find your company name is no longer available.
COMPLETE YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA PROFILES – COMPLETELY!
A social media profile that is only partially completed is like having a bare store front window display. This is the first impression; what your potential customers and clients see when they walk by. Make sure your contact info is clearly displayed along with any other relevant information such as hours of operation and location. Most of all, ensure your page clearly shows what it is that you offer. If visitors can’t tell what you are selling, they may just walk right by.
*quick tip: if you aren’t sure where to start, take a look at other successful businesses to see how they’ve set up their online profiles. Of course don’t steal their content, that’s a big no-no. However you can get quite a bit of inspiration and direction from peeking through their “store window”.
BECOME A SOCIAL MEDIA STALKER
Sometimes the best way to get started is to sign up and lurk around (in a non-creepy way of course). Following those who have a successful social media presence is a great way to learn different types of strategy and get an idea of what you are comfortable doing with your own page. Notice not only at what they are posting but when they are posting as well. Take note of what content is generating engagement (likes, comments and shares) and get an idea of how you might be able to leverage a similar idea. And if you love a post, don’t steal it, share it! While you may be tempted to take it and repurpose as your own, it’s actually beneficial for your page to share content posted by other pages directly. Of course, that opens up a topic for another day but for now, just take my word on this one.
*quick tip: Make use of Lists. Facebook for example offers the option to create “Interest Lists” which saves your favorite pages so you can see all of their updates in a separate News Feed. It’s a great way to find shareable content. Check out this article which explains how to set it up.