Getting started in social media may seem intimidating for any small business owner, but by keeping some simple tips in mind you’ll find that you can quickly and easily establish a powerful presence among the available social networks. Here are 11 tips to get you going:
1. Start Small: Don’t try to tackle all of the networks at once. Pick one and give it a go – but start with the network that best matches your target customer (for example, LinkedIn tends to appeal more to the professional, Facebook to the consumer). Once you get the hang of it, expand into another.
2. Define Your Goals: Understand what it is you are trying to accomplish – and formulate solid goals. How will you measure success? Identifying your objectives will help guide your activities and help you understand whether or not they are working.
3. Carve out the Time: Dedicate time to keep your sites updated. Whether you can only find 10 minutes a day or you’re able to devote two hours a day to the effort, make it a scheduled activity to ensure that it gets the attention it deserves.
4. Experiment! Social networks change constantly, so what worked yesterday may not work tomorrow. Test new approaches, see what works (and what doesn’t!) and then adjust accordingly.
5. Provide Value: This one is simple – you have to keep your content interesting so that people do not stop following you.
6. Don’t Over-Promote: Social media networks are very personal, and the more personality you can show through your posts, the more engaged your followers will be. Share the people behind the company and post things that would be interesting to your audience – and that won’t always mean things about your company. It may seem strange, but the majority of your content should NOT be promotional in nature.
7. Keep the Conversation Going: Social media is all about interactions and relationships, so respond anytime someone comments on your posts or your content. You’ll be engaging with your followers and you will encourage more interaction. That also means that you need to be constantly monitoring your sites!
8. Provide Rewards: Make your followers feel special! Conduct contests that reward people for following you or for commenting on your posts. Or offer exclusive specials or discounts that aren’t available elsewhere. You can earn and keep people in your network by showing them you care.
9. Measure the Right Things: Think about the goals that you defined when you launched your social media campaign, and measure against those objectives. For example, don’t measure Facebook merely by “likes.” While it’s nice to have a big following, it’s the interaction that counts. It’s better to have a few hundred active people involved in your Facebook page than a few thousand silent ones.
10. Integrate Your Marketing: Each of your marketing efforts – from advertising to social media to flyers to direct mail – should link to and feed off of one another. You should cross-promote all of the tools that you offer to increase their exposure and their use.
11. Continue to Learn: Social media is ever-changing, so to stay successful you need to stay on top of your game. Subscribe to blogs about social media and visit well-respected marketing websites to learn what’s new in social media marketing.
Though social networking sites don’t charge a fee to get started, you can’t necessarily consider the method free. Active and successful participation in these sites requires time and effort – and a willingness to invest that time consistently over time.
Social media is all about interacting with your customers, so you have to be willing to make a resource investment. But given the size and power of social media in today’s world, your investment will pay off.