If you are of a certain age, just hearing the phrase “social media” can cause you stress. “Social media for business” is even worse. The phrase represents so much that seems hard to understand! We remember the good old predictable days of yellow pages, flyers, direct mail: the simpler world. But you don’t build a business by living in the past, but by adapting to the present. And while you may not have grown up with social media, just like old media, it’s just one more way to get in front of new customers. Once you get used to it, it can become an ally, not something to fear.
Stats Don’t Lie
There are currently 3.78B social media users worldwide.
Among US adults alone, 84% of those aged 18-29, 81% of those aged 30-49, 73% of those aged 60-64, and 45% of those over 65 are active social media users, spending an average of 2.5 hours per day on various platforms.
People use these social networks to keep up with friends, but they also use them to do research, shop, and do business.
The Conversation is Happening
Chances are the conversation about your business is already happening on the Internet, whether you are participating or not. Reviews on Yelp or Google or Facebook don’t need your permission to be posted. In fact, to respond to them as the business, you need to claim and create accounts. Do you really want a conversation about your business happening without your being able to contribute to that conversation?
Step 0? Claim your Google My Business, Yelp, and Facebook Business listings, if you haven’t already. Fill out the profiles as completely as possible, with relevant keywords, photos, and services offered.
Start with a Plan
Once you’ve knocked out Step 0, think about what you want to achieve on social media. Do you want to:
- Be in touch with existing clients
- Meet new clients
- Do research for future products/services
- Learn about trends in your industry
Or maybe, all of the above? It’s all possible. You just need to make a plan. That plan starts with picking where you will be interacting.
Pick your platforms
It’s silly to try to win on every platform.
- LinkedIn is the world’s biggest B2B platform
- Twitter features a lot of decision makers who enjoy interacting
- Instagram and Pinterest are perfect for businesses that have products and services with curbside appeal
- Facebook and Nextdoor offer global and local social networks with everything from cat videos to questions like “Does anyone know a fill-in-you-business-here?” They also offer lucrative and wildly successful paid advertising opportunities
Pick one, maybe two platforms to start and learn their rhythms. How and when do people post? What are they posting about? Add value yourself by adding to the conversation via insightful articles or conversation starters about topics in your industry.
Be consistent. It’s better to interact once a week consistently than to interact five days in a row and then go dark for a week.
Depending on the platform you’re going to be spending your time on, you’re going to be running into people and brands that are part of every facet of your business. Keep your eyes and ears open to see what customers are asking for, what your vendors are interested in, what your competition is bragging about. It’s all free information…for those paying attention.
If you haven’t interacted on social media as your business before there’s going to be a learning curve. Be patient with yourself and be willing to ask questions. You’ll find that there are an enormous number of people out there willing to assist if you ask for help in the right way.
Go for quality over quantity in your postings and interactions. See what’s working and keep that, dump what isn’t. Keep tweaking to refine and improve.
It’s not hard to continue to get business from the channels you are comfortable with and know well. But when you start to get business from a channel you’re only beginning to understand, then you can see the potential for what happens when you’ve gotten just a bit better. And that’s what interacting consistently will do for you: get you better, until you’re no longer stressed out by hearing “social media for business” but are excited about the possibilities.
Even better? When it’s time to sell your business, you’re going to augment your valuation by the goodwill generated on the platforms you participate on via your consistent habits. That’s not money you want to leave on the table, especially when the corresponding time investment is so small in comparison.
We aren’t social media gurus but we happen to know some great people who are. If you need help getting your social media strategy up and running we’d be happy to connect you. Give us a call!