3 Tips for Business Owners Starting Out on Social Media

@yoshijuggles

When setting up and running your own business, you wear a lot of hats. You have to be the CEO (and the staff!), and the marketing manager, and the sales department. It can be overwhelming.

Social media can be an effective marketing tool because it allows you to interface with your target audience without leaving the house, but it still requires daily care and attention to be truly effective.

If you’re just starting out on social media, here are 3 things to keep in mind:

Be Smart, Not Everywhere

A strong social media presence doesn’t necessarily mean having a profile on every channel. Focus your attention in the places that will produce the best return. How do you pick?

  • Different channels have different demographics – your target audience won’t be everywhere, so be smart about targeting the channels where your prospects spend time. (If you don’t know, ask them! Send a survey to your clients to determine their online preferences.)
  • The kind of content you can create will play better on some channels than others. If you have a visual product or industry, you might do best on some of the more visual channels (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest). If you hate to write, don’t start a blog, stick with something that requires shorter posts (Twitter?). Be realistic about what kind of content you can create, and which channels you will enjoy engaging with.
  • You only have so many hours in the day, and one of the most important factors in social media success is consistency. Don’t attempt to run so many channels that you don’t have time to do any of them well.

Bad social media can hurt your business more than no social media, so don’t set up channels that you will neglect or run poorly. Start small, stay consistent, and grow when you’re ready.

Set Goals & Measure Results

At the end of the day, social media is marketing. It doesn’t matter how cute your Facebook page is if it doesn’t help grow or strengthen your business in some way. In order to know if your social media strategy (you have a strategy, right?) is working, you need to measure the results. Here are some things you could track to determine whether you’re reaching the right audience:

  • Fan demographics – are the people in your online community in your target audience? Are they people that would hire or buy from you?
  • Post reach – You’re putting a lot of work into the content you’re creating; are people seeing it? Posting in a vacuum won’t help you build an engaged community.
  • Fan engagement – Do people care about what you’re posting? Do they see you as a resource? Ideally, your social media should be a place for conversation with clients and prospects. If the comments section is a ghost town, you may be on the wrong track.
  • Fan numbers – This isn’t the most important number, but it can help you determine whether you’re making an impact. Are you growing a community?
  • Sales – This is why you’re using social media, right? Social is a long-term strategy, so this won’t happen overnight… but over time, your online activity should make a difference for your bottom line.

As you look at your analytics and track fan behavior, you need to know whether you’re headed for success. And that means you need to know what success looks like. Defining goals at the start of your campaign will help you know what to shoot for – and when you’ve achieved it. It will also help you determine when it’s time to change course and try something new. Having a clear direction from the outset will minimize wasted time and keep you on track.

Tell Your Story

Effective social media is about making an emotional connection with your audience. Show them what it’s like to work with you, and how that experience is different than working with your competitors. It’s about authenticity.

  • Just because you’re a solopreneur doesn’t mean that you as a person are interchangeable with your brand. You still need to define a brand voice and personality – and stay within those guiderails when communicating with your audience.
  • Social media is really more about the communication than the tech. The channels aren’t hard to use – anyone can make a post. But knowing how to engage your audience, keep them invested, and drive action? That’s an art form. Focus on being a valuable resource for your audience and building a community around your area of expertise.
  • You may be using these channels to market, but that doesn’t mean you have to sell. Showcase your expertise, but don’t push too hard. Build that connection and let your fans come to you. Focus on telling the story of your business – take them behind the scenes. Stay authentic and you will reap the results.

To be truly productive, social media needs consistent attention and effort over a sustained period of time. It can be frustrating, and hard to tell if it’s working in the short term. Try to look at it as an important tool your company uses to communicate with your customers, not just as a way to make sales. Stay the course, and if you feel stuck – get help before you get frustrated!

Follow Katie Wagner:

Katie is the President of KWSM. Before opening the agency, she spent more than 15 years as a journalist, working for CBS, ABC, Fox, CNN and National Public Radio. Katie works with clients across the country and is a popular public speaker. Read More