“Social media” is a broad term, but it has come to be fairly well understood by example now. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Tumblr, SnapChat, InstaGram, Pinterest, Google+ … These are the most common ones at the moment. What they are from a business perspective are tools for interactive marketing. That is, you are not just posting a billboard for people to look at, but posting something that they can interact with. That interaction requires some commitment on your part as well, so be prepared before you start.
Most people use social media in some way already. Often people will have a personal Facebook account and one or more other social media accounts as well. If you are a regular user of any social media site, then you are ready to start. Your “go-to” social media site is your comfort zone.
If you like to relax and catch up on Facebook, or if you like to be informed by Twitter, or enjoy looking at photos and videos on Instagram, then you can use the medium you are comfortable with to promote your business. Just don’t limit yourself by pointing the marketing machine at your friends list and nowhere else.
If you are not a regular user of social media, then you are best off to hire a company that specializes in maintaining social media for businesses. We can help you get started if you are not ready to do it yourself, or if you are simply too busy.
If you are a regular user of any social media site, then you should be used to seeing other brands there. You might follow Coca-Cola or some other major brand. You might follow local companies, your competitors, or other entrepreneurs. If you do not, then you need to start. You need to see how it’s done before you try to do it. Learn the culture first.
Facebook is the most common. It is very easy to create a page for yourself. The link “create page” is available from nearly any screen. Click the button and answer the questions. Put your logo up, make sure it looks good, put in an accurate description of what you do and why.
Once you have completed this step, you can promote your business on Facebook without using your personal Facebook profile to do so. This is the best method. Remaining anonymous is a good practice so that you can build your brand without having to “friend” people that are really only potential customers. Use a page, and not your personal profile to promote your business.
“But…” Yes, there are buts. The first one is that you have more friends than page likes. True. This means that your friends don’t want to see your business posts. You can share the posts made to your business page to your own timeline, thereby making them visible to your friends. However if you invite your friends to like the page and they do not do it, then oh well. Your job is not to convert friends into customers. It usually does not work that well.
The goal of social media advertising is not to convince your friends to buy your product, but to reach people who are not already your friends.
“But…” Another but? The second one is that you are trying to promote yourself as a personality. You might be a speaker, author, musician, or simply an entrepreneurial personality. That’s ok. You can make a page for yourself as a personality. There is a category for this, and then you can promote it. Use a page. It is how Facebook wants you to do things, and therefore it is easier to do it.
You can promote your pages using Facebook ads, which are highly targetable.
Another common social media site now is Instagram (which is now owned by Facebook). It is much more blurry between brands or company pages and individuals. It is fairly easy to set up a new account and start publishing. Instagram allows you to convert your account to a business profile. Doing this will allow you to interact with your customers as a business.
Instagram only allows you to publish pictures and videos, but they can be of anything. Your videos can be of you talking about your product. Your pictures can be of a product, or of a screen shot or a description of your product.
If you are a regular Instagram user, then you might want to try growing your business on Instagram.
The same goes for the other sites. Twitter is a big one, but you will not be successful in growing a following or in attracting customers if you do not become familiar with the culture of Twitter. Twitter has no real distinction between people and brands – it’s all in how you present yourself and what you post.
For each site, remember the rule: learn the culture. They are all different. They can all be done for free, but you get more results if you pay for ads.
Social media can contribute to your overall search engine ranking. A brand that is linked to your website (for example in the page’s about section) will boost the search ranking of your site if the brand is active on social media.
Let’s recall something I mentioned at the beginning of this article. Commitment. Rule number two is interact. If you make a presence on social media, there is an expectation that you will respond to direct requests that are made of you. This does mean responding to what everyone else is doing on social media, but if you are sent a direct message, it is like a ringing phone, so don’t ignore it!
Most sites allow direct messages sent to an account or a page. These can come to you as an email notification. If you’re doing your work right, then these are leads for you to follow up on! Following up on these should require the same effort as any other customer inquiry. If your social media presence is somehow becomes onerous, then you are doing it wrong. You can consult with an expert to help make the whole process easy for you to manage.
Every business can benefit from social media interaction. It is a simple fact that buying decisions are made by humans. Even if your customers are corporations, it’s the employees who work there who make the decisions to buy.