As a small business owner, you will find many advantages and rewards to marketing your business on social media. Whether you have just launched your business or are established and growing, you need to reach people who are interested in the opportunity and will tell others about it. Social media is the perfect arena to do this.
Don’t know where to start? Our team at Ambit Energy reviews five of the most prominent social platforms and the best practices that you can use to support your business:
Twitter is simply microblogging. Once you sign up for your free account, it just takes a profile picture, cover photo, a short description of your business, a link to your website and the location of your business before your profile is complete. You are limited to 140 characters per message, but once you get behind a keyboard you’ll realize a lot can be said in those characters. You’ll save time and get straight to the point with just a single tweet. You can also include photos and small videos in your tweets to expand your communication potential.
It should go without saying that tweeting about sales, special promotions and new product or service releases should be part of your content plan. But, you’ll also maximize your potential on Twitter by thinking of what adds value to your customers’ experience. If your business is focused on a specific industry, then you’ll want to follow thought leaders for that industry and retweet and link to their content. Many businesses also find they can carry on conversations with customers and even manage customer service via Twitter. Just be careful to move contentious conversations off to direct messages, phone calls or emails so that other customers aren’t inadvertently seeing the conversations.
Taking all of the above into consideration, aim to tweet around 5 to 10 times per week. Keep an eye on your feed and notifications when taking breaks, as well. People want to interact with brands that seem human and not like bots just pushing out tweets, so be intentional about opportunities to respond, retweet and favorite content from conversations. Staying aware will also help you be proactive and react appropriately to any PR crises that could arise, such as upset customers or false information about your business.
Facebook might offer the most rewards of all social networks, but know that it will take a bit more work (and money) to get the most out of it compared to Twitter. A page for your business can be created through your personal account. Under the drop down arrow in the top right corner of your page you’ll find a ‘create page’ option where you can select an option for your business. Similar to Twitter, just add a couple photographs, fill in some information about your business and you’ve got the basics down.
As we mentioned earlier, you’ll need to do some things differently than Twitter if you want it to truly help your business. Finding people who will like and interact with your brand is a little tougher on Facebook because it limits how business pages are found and seen in people’s feeds. Even when you have an audience established, Facebook will only show your messages to about 1% of your audience—unless you pay Facebook to show it to everyone.
Your best option is to use Facebook’s effective advertising option, which can be accessed from the admin section of your page. Facebook’s advertising options include several options: promoting the page itself, a link to your business’ website or specified posts on your page, all through “boosting.” By boosting your page, you’re paying a set amount to reach a certain audience in their news feed, whether that’s people who’ve liked your page, people who have similar interests to your business or the geographic location of your potential customers/audience. An added bonus is that whenever someone shares one of your posts, their friends are seeing the post as well.
If your business or entrepreneurial venture is trying to reach beyond retail consumers to other businesses, then becoming active on LinkedIn should be at the top of your to-do-list. LinkedIn is essentially an extension of your resume, coupled with your list of networking contacts. You can (and should) include all of the details your resume currently includes on your LinkedIn page. Upon completing your profile and searching around, you’ll notice it now has many similar features to Twitter and Facebook. You can share posts and links from your connections to those in your network and join industry-specific groups.
It’s not necessary to post on LinkedIn as frequently as Twitter or Facebook since there are far fewer posts, in general. But, you’ll still want to think strategically when posting. What sources will you share that engage other people in your industry? What is a new skill that will help other professionals be successful? Do you have a success story and can trace it back to certain things that you did (or for good reason didn’t) do? That is an appropriate post for LinkedIn.
Pinterest works like a digital bulletin board—and it requires enticing visual elements. Your account can be created from scratch or by linking a new account to your Facebook or Twitter profile. Upon creating your account, you’ll be given the option to either upload your own images, known as “pins,” or other online images organized by different boards. If your profile is linked to Facebook or Twitter, you’ll have the option of notifying your Facebook and Twitter followers each time you’ve reposted or repinned on your board.
If you or someone you’ve employed has written a book relevant to your industry, you can pin the cover or do a guest submission with the cover. If you want to get a book in people’s hands or have them read a specific excerpt, posting a photo of the cover is a great way to give that hint. In fact, a guest pinner board is a great place to invite your users to share success stories and feedback on your products. They’ll feel more connected by having a voice for your brand. Promote any promotions by creating a graphic and then pinning it on your board. In the end, always look for opportunities to share rich graphics and digital content. Pinterest is no different than other social mediums—strong images that communicates a message, reaches three times as many people and are interacted with more heavily than posts without images.
Instagram is a photography-based microblogging platform and you can only post images from a smartphone. In order to post you’ll need to take an original photograph or upload one from your phone’s library and create a caption. Like Twitter, you can tag other accounts through the “@” name and include hashtags to join in the conversation of trending topics. The biggest difference between Instagram and Twitter is that you are not limited to character count, leaving room for a long caption or as many tags and hashtags you desire—but you must include an image, unlike Twitter.
Social media done right will support your business and give your business a personality in today’s digitally-connected world. However, its addicting and distracting features can drag you in and cause you to waste valuable time that you need to run your business. Consider using a scheduling tool like Hootsuite to schedule content in advance that you’ve planned to post during the month. Regardless of whether it includes scheduled content or not, create a spreadsheet that maps out your messages for the month. Include columns to specify themes/hashtags, time of day and how you’ll tweak the message based on the platform. We’re more visual than we give ourselves credit for, and painting a visual picture for your social media strategy will help you stay organized.
With these social media basics, you can start expand your small business’ reach and authority online.