Whether you’re a plumber or a graphic designer, a wedding photographer or food truck chef, you need to use social media to promote your business and connect with your customers. But even if you’re a long time user of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or FourSquare, you probably don’t know to use it effectively to help your small business. Here are some basic things you need to do in order to lay the groundwork for social media success.
Make a Plan
Before you start your social media accounts, you need to decide what you want to get out of having a social media presence. Are you trying to find a new way to publicize sales, specials, and other time-limited offerings? Do you want to improve your customer relations? Is your primary interest getting people to remember that you’re around and looking for clients? While you can use social media for any or all of these purposes, you might make different choices about which services to use depending on what your answers are to these questions.
You also need to decide what resources you’re going to commit to your social media outlets. While maintaining a Facebook page seems like something you can do in your spare time, many small businesses report spending an hour a day or more using social media. You don’t want to kick off these accounts without making plans to manage them. If you’re not going to be able to take care of the accounts on your own, you might consider asking one of your employees to share social media responsibilities with you.
In addition to allotting the time you need to manage your account, you will also need to prepare the logos, photographs, videos, and other graphical elements you’ll need to make your site a success. Although you might have some of this material already prepared, tailoring it for your social media channels will give you a leg up on the competition.
Get Started Somewhere
While it’s tempting to jump into social media feet first, and set up scores of accounts on networks big and small, it’s unlikely that these efforts will get the results you’d expect. You can’t personally manage each account, so you’ll end up neglecting most of them, even those that show so signs of promise.
Instead, pick a single service—whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram—and focus your efforts there. Build a relationship with your followers, learn how others use the service, and get to know the idioms and folkways of the network’s culture. By putting the time into growing your company on a single service, you’ll develop the skills you need to expand when the time is right.
Manage Your Growth
When you’re ready to move on to multiple sites, consider tools to make it easier to spread your message across platforms. While some messages might only work on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest, others will do well across the various platforms. By using services such as HootSuite (http://hootsuite.com/) you will be able to effectively manage and track all of your accounts.
All small businesses must use social media if they want to reach their customers efficiently and effectively. By planning their social media investment, starting with just one service, and managing your growth, you’ll be able to effectively reach new and old customers alike.
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