While there are LOTS of articles and blog posts out on the web all about the importance of social networking, and the 'how-to' of social networking, it can become come quite overwhelming to grasp exactly what to do; but perhaps even more importantly, what NOT to do. Hopefully this post will help you navigate your way through the maze of social networking intricacies in order for you to get the most out of using social media for your small business.
Social Media Do's
- Start with one platform, establish a plan for using it, and actively participate on it before moving on to another. When you finally decide to take the leap and start using social media for your business, it can be tempting to set up a Facebook Page then quickly move on to set up your Twitter account, LinkedIn Company Page, etc. - only to have 6 months elapse before it occurs to you that after the initial set ups, you've neglected your sites. The quantity of social networking sites on which you have a profile is not nearly as important as the quality of the content, interactions, and elbow grease that you invest in one particular platform. Setting up social media profiles only to let them lay dormant can be more detrimental to your business than having no presence at all.
- Fill out all profiles such that no fields are left blank. As was noted above, when creating profiles on social networking sites, quality is much more important than quantity. Resist the temptation to fill out your business name, upload a logo and move on to the next site. Make sure you are utilizing all available fields to enter as much information about your business as possible. Not only do complete profiles help your target audience learn more about your business, but on many of the platforms, the words within your profile are searchable by the search engines; such that complete profiles laden with keywords, can increase the likelihood of your business being found on the web.
- Learn how to use a social media site before you jump in. Much like you wouldn't look at your business accounting and say, "I'll just give it a whirl," using social media sites incorrectly could damage your business. There are many ways to learn how to use a social media platform - books, blogs, courses, webinars, etc. - but one of the easiest things to do is spend some time watching and listening to what other businesses are doing. For example, find Facebook Business Pages where there are conversations occurring - people are 'liking' posts and commenting, then study their posting style.
Social Media Don'ts
- Don't expect to set up your social media accounts and have the leads come pouring in.A social media marketing program is not a "set and forget" type operation - it takes time, maintenance, and dedication to establish trust, generate relationships, and start building a community around your brand. Think about using social media for your business in the same way that one makes a lifestyle change when it comes to losing weight. In order to lose weight and keep it off, you need to change the way you eat and exercise so that you can maintain a healthy lifestyle - and though the results may not be drastic and immediate, you have a much better chance of achieving long lasting results; it's the same way with social media. When you start using social media, you are making a change to the way you've always approached marketing in the past - you are establishing a new and improved way in which you will communicate with your customers and prospects - a way that requires attention and nurturing in order to have a much longer, lasting impact on your business.
- Don't turn your social media channels into digital billboards. People are flocking to social media sites for information and dialogue. If all of your posts consist of broadcasting your product and service offerings and telling everyone how wonderful you think your business is - you will quickly alienate your target audience. People connect with business on social media sites for a wide range of reasons - none of those reasons however, have to do with reading marketing messages all day. Put yourself in the shoes of your target audience and figure out how you can add value to their day with your posts.
- Don't forget that social media is constantly changing. One of the hardest parts of using social media marketing for your business is keeping up with the ever-changing trends. Unfortunately, what works and is deemed acceptable by users one day, could be much different, and perhaps even frowned upon by users the next. It is critical when utilizing social media that you also keep up with how social media is growing and evolving. You can keep up with trends in social media, by subscribing to social media blogs, joining social media groups on sites such as LinkedIn, following along with social media Facebook Pages, etc., - essentially, as redundant as it sounds, you can use social media to keep up to date with social media.
Written by AK Stout
AK Stout is the Owner of Saying It Social, LLC. AK has been working with social media for the past 6 years, having been amongst the first group of people introduced to Facebook.