5 simple tips for businesses who want to get started on social media (part I)
According to analyst firm Gartner, by 2016 one point five billion people will use social media networks. This means more customers of successful companies are gathering and conversing on social media about their favourite brands, products and services.
In this two-part blog post, I describe five simple steps that can help you get started on social media and develop your company’s social media presence.
Step 1: Pick a social network and observe participants
There are dozens of high-profile social networks for businesses to choose from. It’s worth spending time researching the various networks and figuring out which agree best with your business.
- LinkedIn is ideal for business people who want to connect with other business people.
- Facebook is a useful for businesses who want to communicate with consumers.
- Twitter is an excellent medium for answering customer queries and making announcements in real time.
- Pinterest is geared towards businesses that produce visual products (e.g. craft goods) or services that lend themselves towards visual media (e.g. food).
- Google+ is relevant for those who place an emphasis on great content (e.g. blogs).
Every social media network operates differently, but most make a distinction between personal and company profiles. You can sign up to most networks for free and observe participants without contributing. This research will help you decide on what content you want to use to populate your profile.
This will help you discover how or even if a particular social network will work for your business, product or service. You can also use this time to decide on what type of posts you want to create and to source content and imagery for your future posts.Similarly, if you haven’t posted much social media content before, it’s a good idea to study the etiquette, tone and nuances of online conversations.
Step 2: Talk to your customers online but resist selling to them
Social media users use communication channels that are open to inflection and diversion. They are generally responsive to new and interesting content, and they will engage with, react to and ultimately shape emerging trends.
Your conversations on social media should be predicated on feeding the appetite of social media participants for sharing and discovering great content.
Professional social media posts shouldn't be particularly long, wordy or colloquial, and it’s almost always worth including a photo, video or a call to action. It’s ok to promote your products and services, but bear in mind many social media users dislike a hard sell.
A good social media post will entertain, inform or inspire readers. It may link to existing content on your website or announce something new. Alternatively, you can promote a blog post, post a preview of a new product or service, or announce a discount.
In part two of this blog post, I describe how to develop long-term relationships with social media users and foster better business insight through social media.