Tweet this. Post that. Update your status. Share a link. Message a contact. Whhaaaatttt???
Small businesses are expected to be in the social media game these days. We’ve talked before about why you should understand social media and shared some insight about three major social platforms. Now it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty.
How do you actually use social media for small business? Below are some helpful tips on what to do (and what not to do) on any social platform and specific tips for successful updating, tweeting, and posting on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Things You Should Be Doing with Social Media
- Connect. Use the tools of your network to locate and friend or follow your customers, potential partners, vendors, and like-minded professionals.
- Listen. Spend some time listening to conversations and getting a feel for what your connections care about.
- Help. Do you have good advice for your customers about how to use products or care for them? Are you really good at something related to your industry? Write (or make a video) about it and then tweet, post, share. Lots of marketers will tell you “content is king”. If you know and share something other people don’t and it HELPS them, you will win their admiration, respect, and business. Chris Brogan says “Be helpful. The way I built my own personal brand was delivering information that others could use to improve their own lot in life.
- Socialize. Build relationships. People are on social networks to…well, socialize! So, engage people in conversations. Ask questions. Answer questions. Give them a reason to come back and talk more. Be fun. Be friendly. Treat people with respect. Show empathy.
- Be authentic. Anyone who uses social media regularly can sense a disingenuous person (or business) in a flash. If you don’t care, they won’t care. If you’re only there for you, they will turn tail and run. If you show people who you are, that you care about them, and that you are willing to give them the time of day, they will stick around, listen, chat, share your stuff and become your best advertisement ever!
- Plan. Be kind to yourself by setting up a social media content calendar. It will help you plan and schedule your posts and updates, tailored to your audience. It saves time, ensures continuity of your message, and keeps you from missing important dates and events related to your industry. One day a week or a month spent planning will save you a lot of headaches later.
Things You Should NOT Be Doing with Social Media
- Promote you or your product/service non-stop. People don’t care about you or your product until you care about them and their lives. Imagine asking someone to marry you before your first date! People are smart and people on social media can smell a peddler from a gigabyte away! In general, share other people’s posts 8 to 10 times more than you promote your own.
- Ignore your customers/followers. If you have set up a Twitter account, for example, and your customer sends you a tweet to try to resolve it, you better be there for them. Don’t wait to check it once a month. Be present with your followers and friends.
- Make assumptions about your audience. Use your platform’s analytics to find out who’s engaging with you. Ask questions of them. Don’t assume they will always respond the same way. Your audience may change over time. Stay on top of it.
- Waste people’s time. You wouldn’t waste the time of a client in your office, so don’t do so on social media either. Be relevant, timely, and post things that matter to them.
Now that you’ve got the big picture, here are some specifics about how to engage with people on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Tips for Engaging with Facebook
- On your business page, choose a profile picture and cover photo that represent your business and are very recognizable to your audience. Use your logo, your brand colors, and tagline. (This goes for all social networks!)
- Make sure your About section is complete and accurate.
- Post photos and videos, in addition to text. Perhaps a how-to video or a product review. Photos and videos are the most engaging types of posts on Facebook.
- Pin important posts to the top of your timeline. Perhaps you have a sale or an event coming up soon. You can keep that post at the top of your timeline, even when you post other items afterward.
- Add targets to your posts to send them to specific demographics – for example, if you want to reach 30 – 40 year olds in a particular geographic area.
- Know the best time of day to post. It seems 1 PM for the most shares, and 3 PM for the most clicks is the current best strategy 🙂
- Use the schedule feature to schedule posts to be published at a later date/time. This saves you time and helps you keep up with your social media calendar.
- Check your Page Insights to view how each post performs and who’s engaging with your content. YOu have to have at least 30 people “Like” your page before Insights is available.
- Boost posts that you want to reach a larger audience. Boosting is a form of advertising and will cost you a few dollars, so chose carefully.
- For brick-and-mortar businesses, encourage employees and consumers to “check-In” when they are at your location. Some businesses require check-in before customers can access their free wi-fi or offer discounts or promotions for every five or ten check-ins.
How to Rock the Twitter-sphere
- Create a fun, descriptive bio for your twitter account. You only get 160 characters, so use it well.
- Make your account public, so everyone can find you and see your tweets.
- Search for people to connect with in your industry as well as potential customers and partners. When I worked for a non-profit, I always connected with journalists and other media folks who might someday help me get my message out. Here are some interesting ways to search from MakeUseOf.com.
- Be mindful of your Follower-Friend ratio. If you have 1000 followers but you only follow 12 people, you may be perceived as unengaged. Find a balance between following people who provide value to you and attracting followers who are genuinely interested in your business.
- Tweet videos. Videos are gaining ground on Twitter in 2015. Short and sweet, fun, informative.
- Re-tweet appropriate content from your connections.
- Mention other Twitter users in your tweets by including the @ symbol in front of their Twitter name. This tweet will show up in their mentions tab and they will likely respond to you. This is a good way to connect to specific people in your network and begin conversations.
- Follow people back. If someone follows you, take a look at their profile and if you think they fit your growing network, follow them back. But don’t feel compelled to follow everyone.
- Master the use of hashtags. Hashtags (#) placed in front of a word within your tweet can be used to search for all tweets sent using that same hashtag. It’s a powerful tool for curating content and categorizing tweets by keyword. You can click on any hashtagged word and it will take you to a list of all the tweets that contain that hashtag. Best practices recommend using no more than three hashtags per tweet. A common hashtag used on Twitter is #FF (for Follow Friday), when on Fridays people will tweet #FF to recommend other Twitter accounts to follow. For example, someone might tweet “Great minds! @firstperson @secondperson @thirdperson #FF”.
- Adjust your settings to notify you when you get a Direct Message (DM). Direct messages are private messages between you and the person who sends it to you. If your customers send you a direct message, answer it quickly.
Establish Your Professional Credibility on LinkedIn: The B2B network
- Create a business page with professional images and smart headlines. Here are some guidelines for creating the perfect small business LinkedIn profile.
- Post company updates at least once daily. Some experts say post 6 – 8 quality updates a day. Be sure they are relevant to your industry and audience and offer value to others.
- Posts with links are 2X as likely to generate engagement. Images are 4X more likely. Infographics are shared 3X more than any other visual content. Visual content is king.
- Comment on other people’s updates and posts to stay engaged.
- Use the targeted updates feature to send your updates to a specific segment of your followers.
- Use updates to ask questions of your followers about business trends in your industry, problems, products, and more. Questions generate 50% more engagement that general statements.
- Join groups to connect with and engage in conversations with other professionals with similar interests. You can join an alumni group and connect with old college friends who may become partners in your business or refer people to your business. If you’re a writer, join writing groups. Start with the LinkedStrategies group to help you learn more about using LinkedIn.
- Ask your employees to follow your company page and link to it on their email signature files. They can be great ambassadors for your company and drive people to your LinkedIn page.
- Connect with other businesses and professionals. Here are five simple ways to connect.
- Remember LinkedIn is geared to connecting your business to other businesses, as well as to potential employees and possible clients.
No matter which platform you use, the key to success with social media to is be consistent, authentic, and valuable to your connections, customers, and clients. Check your progress. Adjust as necessary, and by all means have fun with it.