Change of subject folks! Since we tend to talk a lot about photography techniques and our latest projects and events, we decided to shift gears and focus on something a little more supplemental to the whole marketing process — SOCIAL MEDIA!
So how can you focus on getting your business started with social media? By following these simple steps.
In our experience, businesses are sometimes tentative and hesitant about using social media to promote their products or services. They often worry about creating issues as opposed to creating opportunities. While those concerns have some merit, the reality is that not branding your business on social media is simply a wasted opportunity. That’s not to say that any business owner should expect social media to be an instant lead-generator, but it’s certainly an almost expected form of branding in the 21st century’s digital age.
1. Set up business profiles on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ page.
In this day and age, Facebook and Twitter are almost a necessity in terms of branding and communicating publicly about your business. Whether it’s promoting events, sales, promotions, or specials, Facebook and Twitter are the most used social networks by people who use the internet. However, the demographics for use change significantly from network to network. Check out the Pew Research Institute’s latest report on social network usage for more specific information on that.
In order to set up a Facebook business or company page, you’ll need an individual profile first. You can attach this to any existing Facebook account, including your personal one (and don’t worry, none of your personal information will be connected to it), or create a new semi-blank one to use specifically for business use. For Twitter, you’ll just need an email address that you can verify to set up a profile. We typically recommend creating a business Gmail account and using that for all social media networks, including a Google+ page.
While Google+ is one of the biggest ghost towns on the interwebs, it’s still incredibly influential because…. IT’S GOOGLE. Having a Google+ page linked to your business website is a big plus in terms of SEO value. Meaning, it will help you organically rank in Google’s search engine.
2. Set up a personal profile on LinkedIn and network, network, network.
In addition to making business profiles on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, it’s a smart idea to create a personal profile for yourself on LinkedIn. After all, YOU are the face of your business just as your employees are. Use LinkedIn as a networking tool and a way to keep in touch with your professional contacts. After sticking around for several years, LinkedIn has become a go-to resource for employment recruiting, references, and keeping in touch with professional contact.
3. Observe your competitors. If their strategy is successful, adopt their strategy for your own.
This is an essential step in putting together any social media strategy for a business. Whether you want to have a comprehensive marketing plan in place with a full-blown social media calendar or are just looking for some good examples, one of the very first things you need to do is research your competition. What are they doing? What kinds of content are they posting? How often are they posting? Are they advertising? Are they posting pictures? Stories? Having contest? OBSERVE. Then combine all of the elements from your competitors that are successful into one mega-plan for your business.
It sounds simple, but be warned, it’s not easy to find the balance between information, cultural relevance, and being so over-bearing and blowing up people’s news feeds that the unlike your page.
4. Connect with referral partners on every network.
This is probably the most critical and yet unused aspect of social networking: connecting with other businesses who can refer you business.
You might need to think a little creatively, but if you can identify a few areas that consistently produce leads for you, seek out those businesses and businesses like them on social media. Social media is branding. The more times they see your updates, pictures of quality products or services, the more likely they’ll think of you when someone asks for a referral.
5. Research which networks best fit your industry and make sure you’re active in those arenas.
As I briefly mentioned, not every social media network is populated by the same people. Facebook, for example, is primarily occupied by women. Pinterest is even more dominated by women. Know where your target audiences are active and be sure you’re also active there.
6. When you feel like you’ve got more networks than you can juggle, use a platform like Hootsuite to help aggregate your messaging.
Managing several different accounts across multiple networks can make any one person more than a little confused, short on time, and generally irritated by having to constantly switch between accounts. Hootsuite is a fantastic little site that allows you to connect up to five social media accounts for free within their online platform. Basically this portal allows you to add streams that show every aspect of each network from Twitter mentions to your Facebook Timeline. Perhaps most importantly, Hootsuite allows you to schedule messages for multiple networks. Infinitely. Meaning, you can schedule a month’s worth of content IN ADVANCE. Now, while Hootsuite is awesome, this shouldn’t stop you from logging in to each network from time to time just to make sure that you haven’t missed anything.
And that’s about it, folks! Get out there and get posting, tweeting, retweeting, liking and sharing everything you can… just not at once. Good luck!