You know the drill by now, you have heard the steady drumbeat:
- “Social media has changed the game!”
- “Social media is the future!”
- “If you want to succeed in business today, you must fully engage in social media!”
However, let’s say that you’re like most small business owners. In which case, you most-likely have a personal Facebook page, you watch videos on YouTube (by the way, did you know that YouTube is the second most popular social media site after Facebook?), and maybe even check out Twitter now and then (even if it confuses you).
If these traits sound familiar, you likely don’t use social media much, or at all, for your business. According to the most recent Bank of America Small Business Owner Report, less than half of small business owners use social media to keep in contact with their customers.
This is understandable, because most entrepreneurs are so busy running their businesses that they don’t have the time, patience, or inclinations to learn something new like social media. However, it’s also regrettable because social media truly is a game-changing, powerful tool.
One of the huge benefits of social media is that it allows you to save time, and at no cost. Other key benefits it can help with are:
- Building your brand
- Finding new customers
- Engaging with current customers
- Sharing your message
- Resolving issues
- Marketing your business
The problem is not that you are unaware of these potential benefits, but rather, as indicated previously, that figuring out how to jump on the social media bandwagon might seem overwhelming and time-consuming.
If you want to jump on the social media bandwagon, it’s never too late.
Here’s how to get started in social media for your business, in four easy steps:
Step 1: Determine your purpose: What is it exactly that you want your business or brand to gain by beginning to engage in social media? Wanting to become known as a thought leader is much different than wanting to get more customers. Take a look at the list of benefits above; there are many different potential benefits to becoming engaged in social media. Pick one or two.
Step 2. Decide which site fits that goal: You will notice that I didn’t say to choose the site that is the best, easiest, or most fun for you. No, what you want is to choose the one site that will best help you accomplish your goals listed in Step 1.
Generally speaking (and this is very general), the top social media sites have different benefits:
Facebook: Because it is the most popular and the “friendliest,” Facebook lends itself well to businesses that run promotions, for example, press “like” to get clicks, and press “like” to interact with their audience. You can start creating a business Facebook page here.
Twitter: Because Twitter limits what you can say to about three sentences (140 characters at the most), it is better suited to short blasts of information. As such, it can be a great tool for professionals wanting to establish credibility.
LinkedIn: LinkedIn is the granddaddy of B2B social media sites. If networking is your game, then LinkedIn is the name. If you don’t have a LinkedIn page, you can get one here.
YouTube: People love watching videos online. If your business is visual or otherwise lends itself to a video presence, creating a YouTube channel would behoove you.
Pinterest: Pinterest too is a visual medium, and one that is populated more by women than men. If that’s your audience, go for it. Learn more here.
Instagram: Favored by a younger demographic. Start here.
You get the idea. The different sites cater to different interests and demographics. Pick the one that fits your business goals best.
Step 3: Jump into the deep end of that one site: If you are just getting started in social media for your small business, pick that one site that best fits your goals and learn it inside and out.
The next step is to set up your business profile on that site and begin to share some content; meet new people, those who you would not normally meet. Share your expertise. Have a contest. Dig in.
Step 4: Notice your results: Getting results from social media is not a quick process. It takes months to build up a presence and get fans and followers. Give yourself the time necessary. Don’t expect miracles, but do expect results. After three months, take stock. Alter course if necessary.
Once you have that one site down and the goals you listed in Step 1 are within reach, then venture into a second social media site. Repeat the
About Steve Strauss
Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest,The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. © Steven D. Strauss.
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