Social media is an inexpensive and easy way to reach and interact with your target audience, and establish yourself as an expert in your field. If you’re new to using social media for business, it may feel a little overwhelming at first. Where should I start? What should I share? How much time should I spend on social media each day? How do I manage it all?
The best way to begin is slowly – one step at a time. Here are some simple steps to get your business up and running on social media with ease:
- Pick your social media platforms.
A common mistake people make when they’re just starting out is to try to be on every social media network all at once.
The good news? You don’t need to be on every platform! Instead, choose two platforms to start with and master. You can move on to others later on, if it makes sense for your business.
- Where does your target audience hang out? Are they die-hard Facebook people or are they more likely to be on Twitter? Do some research to see which platforms your tribe is most active on.
- What are you selling? When you consider your product or service, what platform makes sense? For example, if you are selling a product with visual appeal – clothing, art work, etc – a photo-based network like Instagram or Pinterest might be a great choice.
- What’s your favorite platform? Think about the social media networks you enjoy personally. Which ones resonate with you the most? Do you stay up late nights creating boards on Pinterest? Can’t get enough of Periscope? Loving Google+? Choose social media outlets you genuinely enjoy, and you’ll be much more likely to be successful in building your following.
- Decide what content to share.
Now that you’ve picked your social media platforms, you’ll be doing two main things on a regular basis: sharing content with your followers, and engaging with the community at large.
In terms of what to share, we suggest using a mix of your own as well as other people’s content that is relevant to your tribe. Basically any content you are creating for your business – from blog posts, to videos, to podcasts – should be shared with your followers. Over time, consistently sharing content that is related to your overall marketing message will help to establish you as the expert on that topic.
When you come across other people’s content that you find interesting or inspiring, these make great social media posts as well. Not only will your followers benefit, but sharing other’s content will get you noticed by other thought leaders and create community.
- Choose a tool.
You might be wondering – how will I manage all of this? Once you start looking around, you’ll notice that there are loads of helpful third-party apps and tools out there to manage social media. But, this is another area where we recommend you start slowly, and then branch out to other tools down the line.
There’s no doubt about it: the biggest benefit of using a third-party social media tool will save you time. A tool will give you the ability to do things that you simply can’t do within the social media sites themselves, like scheduling social media content ahead of time. Tools also allow you to keep track of your social media networks in one place, and view analytics for each platform.
Here are two of our favorite third-party social media tools and why we like them:
Hootsuite allows you to have all of your social media networks in one dashboard, which saves you from having to log into multiple sites. You can easily schedule posts and monitor your analytics to see how your content is reaching and engaging people. This tool also has a really useful search function: enter in certain hashtags or keywords, and Hootsuite will keep track of them right on the dashboard. This can be a big plus when you’re looking for new people to engage with or just want to keep up with specific trends.
Buffer, like Hootsuite will allow you to schedule posts and monitor your analytics. A big thing Buffer has going for it is its ease of use. It has fewer features than Hootsuite, which makes it a simpler and cleaner interface. Buffer’s other big benefit is the ease of sharing your curated content. The tool allows you to set up a sharing schedule ahead of time and offers a handy browser plug-in to make it easy to share content as you surf the net. Note that as of this writing, Buffer will allow you to manage Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Google+, but not Instagram unfortunately.
Both of these tools are free for casual use, but then require a monthly fee for enhanced features and more users.
- Schedule it!
To keep consistent on your social media platforms, you’ll want to set up your regular content shares ahead of time. Like we mentioned, these are things like blog posts, videos, and any other relevant content you create that you want your followers and potential followers to see.
One thing to avoid is auto-scheduling a whole bunch of content shares on your networks, and then leaving it at that. Social media is meant to be social and unfortunately the set-it-and-forget-it model won’t be effective. Sure people may read your content, but the benefit of the engaging – meeting and interacting with others – will be lost.
We recommend that you schedule some time each day to engage on your two platforms. Comment on other people’s posts or pages. Ask a probing question. Start a conversation with someone who has shared our liked your content or someone sharing something you’re passionate about. Survey your followers. Your presence on social media each day – even if it’s just ten minutes – will go a long way in creating relationships with your fans and followers.