From Facebook to Twitter, Pinterest to Instagram, and now Google+, social media can be pretty overwhelming at times. Trust me, I know. While I may know branding inside and out, I’m somewhat a social media novice. So I understand how intimidating it can be for business owners, trying to navigate each new social media platform as it pops up. But nowadays, the evidence is overwhelming—all businesses must participate in social media to survive. So no time like the present to learn the ropes.
Look, I’ll admit it: I’m no social media expert. However, I am proud of what I’ve learned through careful observation over the past few years—and I know this stuff works! So be aware of these tips as you venture into what may be a new realm for you and/or your business. You’re sure to see results when you employ these social media tactics.
Be Social, Not Salesy – This is one of the biggest pitfalls many business owners face, especially the first time they tackle social media. Stop selling and start engaging with others. Being social means connecting with people, just as you would socialize at a networking event. Social media sites are set up so you can connect and build relationships with fellow business owners and potential clients or customers. And as with networking events, sometimes you have to be the one to initiate the conversation. Yes, it can be a bit nerve wracking, but remember: everyone’s in the same boat, so there are many others out there who are also a bit uncomfortable, too. So take the first step and initiate the conversation with a compliment. Ask questions. Above all, DO NOT be preoccupied with selling your products or services—build that relationship first.
Be Aware of Etiquette – Sometimes social media etiquette can be particularly confusing at first, especially when trying out a new platform. For example, it took me a while to understand Twitter’s unique set of rules. As with anything, study up first. Sit back and observe how others interact before you dive in and start tweeting or posting on other social media. You can read up on articles, check the guidelines of each social media website, or ask friends or business associates for etiquette tips for a particular social media forum. You might make a few mistakes along the way, but, heck, we all do! If you make a mistake, simply fix it as soon as you notice, apologize to anyone else involved (if needed), and move on.
Be Genuine – When you run across a helpful social media post, let the poster know you appreciate it by leaving a comment or sending a reply. This includes any type of post with information relevant or important to your business, whether it’s a blog, a link, a quote, etc. People enjoy knowing they’re contributing useful information. And don’t forget to say thank you! Being genuine in your social media posts and responses will also help you establish credibility in your industry. When you post on social media, you become the face of your business and your brand. So always put your best foot forward.
Share Content – Whether you write original content, or you find a valuable article, link, or post elsewhere: if that content has value, share it! Always share worthy content with your circles on Facebook, Google+, or on LinkedIn. If you see a quote or an article of value to your followers on Twitter, retweet (RT) it. Sharing is the least time-consuming way to stay relevant and to provide your circles and followers with constant, valuable information. Which brings me to my last point…
Be Consistent – Your social media presence needs to be constant and consistent. Whether you want to share a thought, retweet (RT) a quote, or if you just want to have a conversation, people need to know that you’re alive and that your business is thriving. So try to blog at least once a week. Not only will you build a consistent following, but you’ll also boost your search engine optimization (SEO) results, allowing potential clients and associates to more easily find you online. Also, try to post to your social media accounts at least 2 to 3 times per day. You can schedule your posts in the morning using an automated website or cell phone app like Hootsuite or SocialOomph. Also, be sure to leave some time at the end of your workday to respond to comments and private messages.
Social media sites expand the reach of your brand. People want to know you’re a real person running your real, successful business. So get out there and start networking through social media! Now more than ever, your business (and your brand!) depends on it.