The business owner’s guide to Social Media – Beginners
Facebook, LinkedIn and friends have changed the way we do business. You only have to switch on the TV or read the newspaper to see that everyone has realised the importance of social media to not only their marketing strategy, but the way they engage with their customers.
For the first time, businesses have been given access to new channels to communicate with their customers. These channels help to build engaged communities, foster loyalty and develop prospects into ambassadors.
So far, it seems simple, right?
Setting up a social media strategy is straightforward, the tools are free and it’s a powerful way to find out what really makes your clients tick. The hard part, however, is mastering what tools are right for you as a business and jumping straight in.
Only sign up to the platforms you need
Before signing up to an account, look where your customers are. Are they on Facebook or Twitter? How do they respond to your usual communication updates?
The dynamics are different between B2B and B2C companies, and as such, they find varying levels of success with different social media platforms.
For example, a B2B company, such as a recruitment company should aim to create a presence on LinkedIn and Twitter. A B2C company, such as a high street retailer, may find early success on Facebook due to its ability to ‘like’ certain products. Or a cafe may benefit from Foursquare – a platform that allows customers to check-in via their smart phone.
A blog is a great way to share your thoughts and opinions, educational and informative information, whilst shoehorning a ‘soft sale’. Think about ways to make your customers want to subscribe to it (try http://wordpress.org/ as a starting point).
How long should you spend doing it?
Setting up a social media strategy is pretty straight forward. The difficulty comes in when finding the resources or the content to make you a brand worth engaging with.
At a minimum, I’d suggest spending the following times on each:
LinkedIn – 2 hours a week
Twitter – twice a day
Facebook – 3 posts a week
Blog – once a week
As you get more comfortable with each platform, you can start looking into tools that can schedule your updates (try http://hootsuite.com/) or share your blog posts to help with your SEO – http://www.stumbleupon.com/home/.
Content is king
One of your biggest challenges when conjuring up a tweet or post will be deciding what content to push out.
Before putting pen to paper – think about what your followers want from you. They’ll want engaging content, informative resources and the odd insight into what really goes on in your head office. So don’t ram them with sales messages – they’ll switch off, and you’ll lose a potential customer.
Try sitting down with your team to bounce around some ideas. Every member of staff has a different perspective of the business, with the potential to suggest a fresh, and potentially viral, idea.
On a finishing note, here are some things worth considering:
1. Don’t dabble – put aside time and resources to get the most from it
2. Monitor your online reputation – what are other people saying about you?
3. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box; the best ideas go viral
4. Ensure your website includes links to your social media profiles
5. As you start to recruit, think about creating guidelines for the business