Introduction to Social Media: You may be thinking about using social media to expand the reach of your company or organization. These days, it seems like everyone and everything has a social media account of some sort! But where and how do you get started? It’s natural to feel overwhelmed by all the options.
Being overwhelmed is perfectly okay, but giving up is not! THIS is a better opportunity than ever before for you to get your company out there. It’s time to let others know about all the wonderful things you do!
Let’s get started right now.
Step 1: Form a Social Media Team
You can call it “Technology Team,” “Communications Team,” or whatever you want, but this is an important job and you can’t manage the demands of social media all by yourself. Form a team, and then you can start forming a communications plan. (More on that in Step 4.)
Step 2: Learn the Basics
Study the options available to you. Social media accounts are generally free and may have more robust features you can add. For example, you could add advertising once you have a good sense of what will work best. Here are some of the more popular ones currently in use by businesses today:
- Create events at a certain date and time range and invite people to them
- Chat with your customers
- Post your business hours
- Connect a store button at the top
- Post inspirational, funny or helpful updates
- Advertise products, services, and articles by “boosting” them for a small fee
- Use Facebook Live or Instagram to post videos
Instagram can be hooked up to Facebook and is a very visual platform. Users post pretty or interesting pictures, galleries, and videos called “stories.” Stories can be saved on your profile page or just be a fun temporary thing that will eventually go away publicly and stay privately available to you (you won’t permanently lose them).
Instagram is an especially good place for artists, models and photographers to showcase their beautiful and inspirational photos. However, almost any business can use it to interest people in their products and services. You can try and rely on a particularly engaging photo to be shared and seen by many people, or boost it with ads.
People in a variety of industries frequently use Twitter to keep track of each other. Posts are called Tweets and can be public, private or friends-only. Twitter users can use a person’s username, which is rendered as @username, to directly speak to them or include them in a discussion. They also use tags, written as #tag, to include their posts in discussions about certain subjects.
So, for example, if you want Elvis Presley to see something you wrote about hamburgers, you might say “@ElvisPresely I just ate the best #hamburger!” and post a nice picture of it. Pictures make people more likely to read a Tweet.
You can also organize people into Lists. If you choose to make these lists visible, it can actually be a shrewd business tool.
For example, an artist might make a list entitled “Companies I Dream of Working With” and if she makes it visible, everyone she put in that list will be notified. It’s less confrontational than directly addressing someone, but still gets your message across in a flattering way. If you just want to internally organize people into lists, you can make them private!
There are a lot of articles about Twitter etiquette, with differing opinions about whether you should address someone directly, how often you should post your own news vs. helpful posts from other people, how much you should update, and whether you should use “DM’s,” or direct messages.
It can seem intimidating, but the truth is: it’s up to you to do what makes you comfortable! Being the genuine and sincere voice of your business is more important.
Many professionals find LinkedIN to be very useful. The entire principle of LinkedIN is that you affirm that you know other professionals. You are claiming your contacts are indeed talented or knowledgeable in the different disciplines they list as their specialties. Companies and individuals are able to post a resume of their achievements and services, upload examples of their work, and share or write posts/updates relevant to their industry or their projects.
Companies frequently use LinkedIN to examine the bonafides of potential applicants or look for likely job candidates, and professionals use it to find fellow experts to ask for advice or collaborate with.
GENERAL TIPS FOR ALL PLATFORMS:
- Lift each other up; don’t be negative towards yourself, your customers, or competitors.
- A post accompanied by a pleasant or interesting IMAGE is more likely to be noticed.
- Spend much of your time posting valuable or interesting assets or articles for those in your industry. In other words, provide plenty of value to your customers and followers.
- Get your followers involved! People love submitting ideas, photos and videos for a contest or just a fun prompt. You can also show your company’s human side by letting employees submit funny (approved!) photos, or even things like recipes or silly stories.
- Make sure to #tag posts so they can be found more easily, but not to the extent that an article or tweet becomes unpleasant to look at.
- Make your @username on the platform professional and descriptive so people can find you in searches for that product or service. I.E. @heatherlandryARTIST or @RiversideHamburgers
- Make full use of every field you can fill out to make yourself easier to find and contact. Provide your business name, website, contact information, mission statement, images, and anything else you can stuff into the Profile or About Us sections of each social media platform you use.
- Religious or political content is generally a bad idea unless it is explicitly relevant to your business. It is highly unlikely that all of your employees agree on these points, much less your many customers. Therefore, strive to make everyone feel welcome both in your company, and in buying from you or using your services.
- Establish a regular update schedule based on your needs. This could be daily, weekly, or some other interval. The important thing is to not have an account that has been barren for years.
- Interact! Answer customer questions and thank people for their kind words.
Step 3: Determine which platform(s) you will use.
It is possible, even likely, that your business won’t use all of the above 4 platforms or the many others out there. And that’s just fine!
It is actually wiser to choose one or two platforms that are the most relevant to your company. You should also take into account which are the most pleasant for you to use. Then focus on those platforms the best you can.
Step 4: Now it’s time for your Communications Plan.
Once you’ve chosen your favorite/most helpful platforms for your needs, make a plan. Here’s what you need to consider:
- Who will be making your posts and updates for each platform?
- How will you come up with things to post to them (updates, articles, pictures, videos, etc)?
- How frequently will you post?
- Do you want to have a “buffer” of posts waiting? How about scheduling posts?
- Do you have an overall message you want to emphasize in your posts?
- Do you have a particular look you want to achieve?
- Who do you want to talk to?
- What do you want to convince them to do? ie. Why are you talking to them?
Step 5: Set up your account(s) and….GO GO GO!
Once you know what you want to do and where you want to do it, it’s time to set up your social media account(s).
It’s usually completely free to set it up as a Business account so make sure and do that wherever possible. Business accounts frequently carry additional benefits like the ability to display more contact information, sell goods and services right off your social media page, set your hours, start advertising campaigns, and other features.
Plus, they look more professional than using a personal account.
If you have a banner or logo you use everywhere, use them on your social media sites too. Where possible to customize any colors, select ones that your company uses. When showcasing products or services, make sure you select professional photos that represent your brand.
And remember, plaster that contact information everywhere.
After you’ve got it set up to 1) look and feel like your company and 2) point everyone to your company’s contact information, have fun posting!
With social media you can let people know about all your projects, products, sales, and achievements, as soon as they happen! You can even build a devoted following by being a good player and frequently sharing helpful things with people. Make it a friendly, fun place for people to be and enjoy your extra reach.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this introduction to social media. And if you need any more help and support, we’re here for you to help you keep things running smoothly.