When you see the title of this article, some of you may be saying, ‘what do you mean, how do I get started with social media, like it’s some big secret?’ To some, it might sound like a silly question as most people just dive into a platform and begin making posts.
Now imagine if you will, that you’re a 50 or 60-something new entrepreneur. Most of your social media posts have been on Facebook or and you might have contributed to the company LinkedIn page, but you never had to bother with setting these social media accounts for your business.
With dozens of multi-million networks and big companies pouring millions of dollars into it, social media may seem daunting for any small business entrepreneur, even more so for fifty-somethings who haven’t grown up with the Internet. But the amount of exposure social media can bring your business, and the opportunity it offers you to connect with your target audience and spread the word about your products or services cannot be ignored.
Your competitors are already on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and other social networks. In a world full of mobile devices and apps, having only a website and blog is no longer enough.
Here are some tips to get you started for the #FiftySomethingEntrepreneur.
The Right Approach to Social Media
Before getting started with social media, you have to remember that social media is first and foremost social. While brands do use it to market themselves, sometimes using paid ads, the main benefit of being social is interacting with your audience. What’s more, Google takes into account the buzz you generate on social networks when determining your search engine ranking, or how high you show up in the Google search results.
There are many social media networks, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, WhatsApp, YouTube, and Tumblr. As a startup or small business, you may not have the time or the resources to be active on all of them, nor should you.
An effective strategy is to start small. Most businesses start with #Facebook, #Twitter, #LinkedIn, and optionally, #YouTube. Depending on your target customers, some of networks will offer you better returns on your time spent on them than others.
Create a Social Media Marketing Strategy
It’s important to have a social media marketing strategy in place. Without one, social media can become a time-sink. Considering your audience, their needs, and what you can offer them. Decide what content would work best for them, whether it’s articles, images, videos, short updates, how-to guides, and so on. Social media is very flexible, so you mix it up to keep things interesting.
Creating an Engaging Social Media Business Page
After creating your social media accounts, you have to personalize them. Keep personal and professional accounts separate. For your business, make sure to create a business page, rather than a standard profile. This will enable you to customize your page with a logo, business address and other details, as well as access a wealth of data about your fans and followers. Add a custom header and background to your business page, and try to keep all pages consistent in terms of design.
Content: Creation, Curation, and Timing
You also have to determine how often you will post fresh content on social media – at least two or three times a week is a must, and ideally you want to post something new every day. Fortunately, you don’t have to create all the content yourself. You can always curate or share content from experts in your industry, news sites, and other relevant sources, so long as you give credit to the creator and don’t infringe any usage rights.
The Key to Success – Being Active and Involved
The hard work begins after you’ve set up your accounts. Posting is not enough. You have to interact with your audience by answering their questions, starting discussions, organizing contests, and rewarding loyal followers with mentions, and possibly for ecommerce businesses with coupons, or freebies. You have to follow others, share their content, and join groups and discussions. On social media, if you are not active, you are invisible.
Social media can also open up the door to new professional connections. Actively connect with your existing connections and also seek influencers, experts, and other notable people in your industry. Share their content and you may catch their eye.
Last but not least, it’s important to keep in mind that being on social media is no longer optional for a small business. If you are not “social,” people won’t be able to find your business as easily, and many will go to your competitors instead. That’s why if you don’t have the time to manage your social media marketing efforts yourself, it’s better to delegate someone within your company to do it for you, or hire someone to help you with this.
The key is to get started and not to shy away from engaging in #socialmedia. Trust me when I say it gets easier the more time you spend in doing some type of post. Now go and have some fun.