· Assess your assets– The first thing you need to do before engaging in social media is look at what you are trying to promote. What are your assets? Who is your target audience? It may seem obvious but when you sit down and think about it, you may realize you may have a bigger or different audience then the one(s) you thought you had.
· What are you trying to accomplish using social media? Are you trying to reach new prospects or existing customers/clients? Are you trying to position yoursef as a thought leader in your field? What do you want your audience to do? Create a plan and be sure to have a way to measure its success.
· What social media platforms does your target audience engage with? You want to make sure that you establish a presence in the appropriate social media platform. Research where your target audience spends their social media time…For many businesses it may be Facebook. For others, like professional services, it is likely to be LinkedIn or Twitter. For some it will be Pinterest and Instagram if there is a large visual component to what they do. You need to be where your audience is and can find you.
· Sign-up for social media– Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest and Google+ are the most common. You can create a business page for each social media platform that makes sense for your business and your goals.
· Find a Social Media Manager– Managing social media can be very time consuming and daunting. So before you get started with posting, requesting friends and adding followers, you should sign up with a social media manager/dashboard such as HootSuite. It allows you to manage all of your social media accounts from one place and schedule your messages to deploy whenever and to whichever platforms you want. It also lets you review your click-through statistics to review the success of your posts. Try it out first before signing up to see if it’s right for you.
· Post Updates– It is important to have content on your social media pages before you start adding friends and followers. When you request followers or friends, they are going to look at your page to see if they want to follow you. So you need to make sure you have content there that will give them a reason to follow. Post valuable information about the industry, photos of your business or people enjoying your business, customer experiences and encourage customers to post their own on your wall. You can also share others videos and posts on your account. If possible, you should post a minimum of 2-3 times a day on social media sites. The more you post, the more it is viewed, the more it is shared, the better it is for your business. If you cannot post 2-3 times per day, try to post daily.
· Find Friends and Followers– Add just a few people at a time. With Twitter and Google+ you can search keywords that apply to your business to find followers. Find key influencers, news outlets, bloggers, city officials, large players in your market, as well as customers or prospects. You should comment, mention or message them thanking them for following, adding or liking your account immediately. It will help to establish the connection and also will help make your friends and followers feel welcomed.
· Engage Friends and Followers– Build a relationship with people. Don’t just pitch your service or products. Share their posts, comment, retweet stories, reply to messages, and gain their trust. It could benefit your business in the future.
· Stay Current– Set your phone so that you receive alerts when people engage with your social media sites. This will help you respond quickly.
Most small businesses will benefit from a social media presence. From attorneys to restaurants, there is a social media platform that can help you increase your visibility, locate prospects, and position yourself as an expert or thought leader in your field, raise awareness about a product, service or cause. The sky’s the limit. You just need to find the ones that are right for you and get engaged!
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