Here are my tips for helping small business owners get to grips with social media:
1. Before you do anything – make a plan
Write down what you want to get out of social media; it needs to be an integral part of your overall marketing plan.
Make sure you are getting involved with social media for the right reasons. Do you want to raise awareness and use it to communicate more effectively with your existing customers or are you only interested in obtaining new leads?
Remember that most people respond much better to companies sharing information rather than companies who are constantly trying to persuade their customers to buy. Sharing information builds trust and often leads to a higher number of purchases anyway. You want to add value for your customers, not annoy them.
2. Commit fully
If you decide to join a social network, you need to commit fully and do it properly. If you don’t keep your page updated or join in and you don’t respond to your customers, this is likely to have a negative effect on your online presence.
Make sure you have the time and resources to post new content and more importantly to deal with any questions that arise from social media. It’s vital that the person writing the posts and responding to customers is fully involved in the company rather than someone who is just good with technology.
3. Don’t try to do too much
Choose a couple of social networks that your customers and potential customers use and commit to those ones. There is an increasingly long list of social networks, but it is better to do a couple well than lots badly.
4. Be patient
Bear in mind that it will take time and that you are unlikely to get instant results. You need to start by listening and learning how the networks work and then join in as you become more confident. Find out where people are talking about your services or products and share your expertise.
5. Create a schedule for your social media marketing.
It is understandable to feel that you cannot fit anything extra into your hectic work day. However, once you have got the hang of your chosen social media networks, you only need to set aside 10 or 15 minutes a day to ensure you have a consistent presence.
Plan the content you want to post in advance as you need to keep your followers interested and add value to their social media experience. Remember to include keywords in your posts to help with search engine optimisation.
Decide what you want to measure. For example, engagement, leads or increased traffic to your website?
7. Don’t be afraid to make the first step.
And finally, remember that the hardest part is starting your new social media journey. Once you make the first step, you will be on your way to a new world of possibilities and opportunities.