As a small business owner you’re definitely aware of social media (duh) and probably know that ignoring it is no longer an option as far as your business goes, right? You might even be dead-keen to sink your teeth in, get started and use it to take your business to the next level. I mean, isn’t that what everyone’s doing???
But that’s about where you get stuck, probably overwhelmed. Where exactly do you start? Which platform? All of them? Be everywhere? All the time? And what will I write? What will I post? How often? And how will I find the time? I mean after all, you do have an actual business to run. Is social really worth it and how do you get started?
I understand where you’re coming from - it can be overwhelming and seem much easier not to do it at all, or give it a half-hearted go only to find it was more work than it was worth. But I really believe it doesn’t have to be that complicated and I do think it’s worth getting started. Social media is not optional - it’s a way of life now and certainly an integral part of any modern sustainable business. It doesn’t have to take over your life, or your business, but neither should it be left to chance and poor planning.
Here are 7 top tips to get you started in the right direction and build the foundation for something that can grow into a massive asset.
#1 - Choose one or two platforms and start there
Keep it simple. Sure, Pat Flynn is known for the ‘Be everywhere’ approach and there’s definitely a lot we can learn and implement from this perspective, but if you’re just starting out, it’s way better to keep it simple and get good at it. If you’re good at it and you want to be everywhere, then go forth and dominate, but just make sure you’re doing it well first, that’s all.
Starting with a platform that your feel comfortable with and which you may already be on is a good strategy. It’s going to cut down your learning curve a bit and make it more enjoyable. If you’re familiar with a platform, you may also already have followers or friends there who can support you instantly. It’ll also be a comfortable place to start practicing your content creation and engagement.
For most people, the obvious choice is going to be Facebook. Most people have a personal profile, know how it works and have a list of friends they can invite over to their business page straight away. But if your thing is Twitter, or Instagram, or Pinterest, then start there. Focus on just 1 or 2 and commit to doing a great job.
#2 - Be social! Seek to serve rather than broadcast, share rather than sell and give rather than gain.
The whole point of social media is to be social. It’s about relationships, sharing, engaging, connecting and inspiring. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that just because you’re doing this for your business that you need to be clinical. Sure, be professional, but not clinical or robotic - this will result in a massive fail. That’s because social media, and indeed all business, is all about people. Your business, your products, your marketing, plans and revenue can’t exist, connect or have any meaning without people. And people are social beings - we love to connect and engage with other people about the things we care about. Approaching your social media this way, in a way that seeks to serve rather than broadcast, share rather than sell and give rather than gain is what fosters connection, trust and engagement. Just like in *real* life.
#3 - What’s the story you want to tell?
Being social and connecting with others is all about communicating and connecting through the stories we tell. We see ourselves reflected in others’ stories and we find connection in sharing our own. This is where your brand’s story is really important. What is it? What do you care about? Why are you doing what you’re doing? What’s your mission, your values, your vision?
Getting really clear about what your business and your brand stands for is the key to the story you’re going tell. Do you want to change the world? Is this a passion or a hobby that you’re just in love with and can’t stop? Why do your customers care? What is it that they value, that they see reflected in your brand, in your mission?
Knowing your story and sharing it is the whole point.
#4 - Create a plan and be consistent
Once you’ve had a good think about the key elements of your brand story and how you’re going to tell it, plan it out. It doesn’t have to be fancy and it’s not rocket science, but sketching out a map will help you to focus and be consistent. Consistency is really important because it strengthens your presence and your message - higgledy-piggledy dilutes it because people can’t make sense of it or rely on it. Remember these are real people and real relationships so all of the normal rules apply.
First, think about the kind of content that you could use to tell your story.
For example, part of your story might be to educate your audience, so you might identify educative posts as something you want in the mix. Others might include industry news, inspirational quotes, sharable and downloadable content to help your audience with something, how-to videos etc.
Next, think about how often you can consistently post quality content that your audience will love. Twice a day? 6 times a day? 5 times a week? Whatever it is, at this stage, the priority is quality and consistency. Then map out a week so you know exactly when you’ll be posting.
Now add the type of post to each one. So in the first step you may have identified educative posts, industry news, quotes and sharable downloads - now you apply these to the plan to show what type of content each of your posts will focus on.
Once you have this basic plan, you can go ahead and create the content and post it.
#5 - Respond - remember the whole point is to be social, so make sure you respond!
Monitor your comments, like and respond to them. Don’t think that posting the content is all you need to do and ignore the people who give you their support - be interested in them, what they have to say and let them know.
#6 - Be authentic - don’t try to be something or someone you’re not.
No matter how good the content, or how compelling your story is, people can sniff out a fake. You don’t have to reveal everything about every part of your business and life, but you do have to be real enough that people have something to connect with. Genuinely caring about your audience is the best way to be authentic and tell a story that matters.
#7 - Have fun!
Again, social is social and people connect with people. Don’t get too hung up about getting everything perfect because it’s not as important as getting it real and having fun doing it. Use these tips, including the planning step, to make your social media something you love doing because when you love doing something, it shines through. Let it.
I hope these tips have been both helpful and inspirational. You can really do a great job on social and build your brand and audience, as well as enrich lives all at the same time. Make it simple enough that you can do it well and actually enjoy doing it, and you’ll be brilliant.
Watch out for tomorrow’s blog post too - that’s all about how engage your audience through serving them and includes some really cool examples of engaging posts.
Thanks for reading, see you tomorrow,