Social Media 101 For Small Businesses and Start-Ups

You have a compelling product or service, and you’ve been considering the pros and cons of entering the world of social media, but now what?

Below are a few of the major concerns and questions that arise as businesses enter the world of social media. If your small business or start-up is considering using social media, you may likely be asking these questions.

Question - “I’ve heard of many of the social media networks, and have a couple of personal pages, but I am still learning and find the concept of posting for my business daunting. What should I be doing?”

Answer - You are not alone. It’s difficult to learn the ins and outs of social media networks with a busy schedule, and when many social media sites are changing constantly with updates.

It’s important that you feel comfortable with the nuances of posting on each network you plan on utilizing before engaging in a social media campaign of any kind. There are several books, video tutorials, and help articles available, but if you are strapped for time, one of the best solutions can be as simple as asking for help.

Asking for help does not necessarily mean hiring somebody new to manage your social media efforts; for many small businesses, this is simply not feasible. There are several ways you can get the help you need to feel comfortable posting. One option is to grab someone who is social media savvy to show you a few tricks. From there, you can build dummy accounts on the social media channels you plan on using to test for yourself the different ways of positing content. Getting some hands-on experience is a great way to get a higher level of comfort with platforms. Another option would be to ask current employees for help, because you may have a social media guru on your team and not even know it.  However, it is likely best to seek help from an expert if you are truly over your head.

Having someone to advise you on how best to approach social media for your business – what sites to use, how to post, what to post, how often you should be posting,  and building a work plan is an easy way to approach social media with confidence. This can shave hours off your learning curve and provide the recommendations you need to truly maximize the value social media can provide to your firm. You can save yourself a world of confusion and uncertainly by investing in professional help.

Question - “Where do I post?”

Answer - The idea behind social media would be to have an outlet for your business’ fresh and interesting content. Each site has particular type of content that it prefers, and its important to be cognizant of that. For example, LinkedIn specializes in professionally-oriented content, so blog posts and interesting charts/infographics/slides work best. Keep posts here serious and business-related.  Facebook on the other hand, is great for easily digestible content. Images, links to blog posts, and short paragraphs rule this space.

DO NOT use a “shotgun” strategy when posting on social media. Carefully choose the sites that you are either most comfortable with or that fit best with your product/service offering.  Posting on social media sites without seeking any attention on your posts “just because” is a waste of your time and resources. Try new sites one-by-one, evaluate, and re-consider if necessary.

Question - “What type of content do I post?”

Answer - Ideally, your company should have a content mix of blog posts, images, interesting thoughts, community questions, and relevant third party content. The sky is the limit, but the end goal should always be shareability. If people aren’t sharing your content, it’s dead in the water.

Try new types of content frequently, and track/gauge the response to the content. Eventually you will discover what works best on each platform to cater content better in the future.

Question - “Who should be posting the content?”

Answer - If you have a solid idea for content but aren’t a strong writer or can’t bring it to fruition on your own, seek help (from employees, friends, a professional, or whoever is qualified). If it takes a little extra help to bring a great idea into reality, it’s worth the extra effort. Shareable content helps maximize the return on your content through increased engagement, SEO, and potential leads.