Social Media Made Easy
Many business owners or executives think that social media consumes too much time and cannot produce measurable results. I understand. I was in the same boat six years ago until a wise old man (all of 24 years of age) explained to me that social media can be overwhelming, but it really doesn’t need to be that complicated.
We all know that social media channels can become distracting and drain productivity if you don’t have a plan in place, and most businesses can’t afford this in today’s economy. We all know people that spend countless hours each day on Facebook, trying to rack up more check-in points on Foursquare than their friends, or getting lost in Twitter lists. Heck, I admit I did this on Twitter today trying to keep up to speed with the GoDaddy hack by Anonymous for over an hour.
The benefits of social media far outweigh the investment of time if done right and you have a social media strategy or plan in place. Even if you only have a couple hours a week to allocate your business can still benefit from all the new social platforms available. Below are some tips to assist you in getting started with social media, even if you aren’t ready to jump in full time:
Start with the basics
New social media platforms seem to pop up everyday or at least it feels that way and most people think they need to be active on all of them. Don’t make the mistake of joining more than you can handle. We recommend that you start with 2-3 to get your feet wet. Give them a couple of weeks to gain some momentum and be active every day.
If you start with too many, too quickly you will very likely get overwhelmed and then potentially disengage. Gaining traction and building your community takes patience as it doesn’t happen overnight, but you can do it if you stick to the basics with a couple of platforms.
Follow your customers
Start by doing a little research and find out which platform your customers are active on. Once you have found your customers, you have found your first social media network to join. A lot of so called social media experts will tell you that you should start with Facebook and for some this may be great advice, but it is not always the case.
If I am advising a wedding planner or a dress shop, then my first recommendation would be Pinterest because 82% of Pinterest users are female. Facebook would be the second recommended platform for these businesses. Both Pinterest and Facebook are also very good for businesses that have visual content to share with their community.
For many businesses we think LinkedIn is a great place to start, but LinkedIn takes a little more time to take advantage of because you either need to be producing great content or participating in LinkedIn Answers to see any real benefit. If your business is B2B this is a great space for you. If you are B2C, stick with Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter to get started.
Monitoring Your Social Media Accounts
Social media is about engagement. To engage you are going to need to monitor your accounts to check the activity each day, but don’t let this scare you away. You can monitor social media in less than 20 minutes per day.
All you need to do is decide what you want to monitor, set a schedule, and use a tool like Hootsuite or Sprout Social to easily track your engagement. Most will advise you to check your accounts 2-3 times per day, starting in the morning when you check your email.
I would recommend when you are just getting started to check it at lunch and after work as most of your engagement will come during standard work hours and not overnight, unless you are scheduling overnight posts. Just be sure to work your monitoring into your daily routine.
Only share a couple of times per day
If your days are crazy busy, don’t worry. Set a goal to share a couple of new posts each day. You don’t need to post 20 Tweets or 10 Facebook posts each day to drive engagement.
Post an announcement about your company. If possible, you can go really crazy and include a picture. Pictures are great for engagement, social sharing, and they are easy to take and upload as most smart phones integrate with the major social networks.
If you can’t come up with anything to post then use an industry magazine, blog, or website to curate a post that is relevant to your network.
Customer service benefits
Social media is a great place to monitor customer complaints and to thank customers for using your service or purchasing your product without taking hours out of your day to monitor.
Social media is a very easy place for unhappy customers to voice their negative opinion about an experience with a business and a lot of these people are using Twitter for this medium. This is really where monitoring can become extremely beneficial. Using Hashtags on Twitter is a great place to start for monitoring customer complaints. Be sure to try and take the customer off-line and offer your email address or phone number to continue the discussion so your are not going back and forth publicly.
Social media shouldn’t be intimidating if you don’t start with too many platforms. Spend a little time finding your customers before you select your first couple of channels to start dominating and be sure to monitor the conversations within your community and about your company.