Social Media 101 for Small Businesses

Social Media DirectionThe crazy world of social media is one that all businesses must throw themselves into. In a situation that is sink or swim, not only must small businesses swim, they must learn how to navigate the rapids and float along. While social media can be daunting for a start up who just had the courage to open their doors, it doesn’t have to be something that will keep you up at night with worry. We’d like to offer our Social Media 101, where we breakdown social media into manageable, goal-oriented fun. So sit down and let the class begin!

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  1. Create a plan– Diving into social media without having a plan is like jumping into the ocean without a lifeboat – most likely to end in disaster. Don’t worry about coming up with a fool-proof, perfect plan for your social media from the start (they don’t exist anyway), just set two or three goals that you’d like to try and achieve with your social media. Choosing your platforms and setting small growth and engagement goals is a great place to start

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  1. Create a calendar- Now that you have your plan ready to be put in action, something that might help cut down on the crazy is a calendar. Create an editorial calendar, or use a scheduling tool like hootsuite to help you easily keep track of what you are saying and when you are saying it.Hootsuite Owl


  1. Start small-Don’t try and take on all the social media platforms at once. Pick one or two and start with those. A good starting platform for all businesses is Facebook. It is kind of the conglomerate of all the platforms in an easy-to-understand way. Once you feel like you have a good grasp with the one or two platforms you started go ahead and branch out slowly. Be sure to research your target audience and follow them to their preferred platforms. You might be surprised at the different options used by various demographic groups. Take it at a pace you feel comfortable with.


  1. Listen and share-Social media should, of course, BE SOCIAL. Let the conversation flow. That means that you aren’t always on the giving side either, sometimes you need to be the receiver and listen to what your fans are saying. But don’t be afraid to share things you think would interest your fans/readers. Always share your current deals and fun exchanges, but don’t be too pushy.


  1. Look for new trends-There is a reason there are “trending” topics on social media. It’s because everyone is talking about them! Don’t be afraid to use these when they can be applied to your business. Using trending keywords and subjects appropriately is an easy way to put your brand in front of thousands eyes.


  1. Interact, don’t sell- We know this goes against your entrepreneurial spirit, but social media is intended to be a friendly place where people go to interact and relax, not have ads constantly thrown at them. Social media is more about engaging with your audience. Trust us, this has benefits of its own.


  1. Coordinate your efforts- All social media sites should work together to help you accomplish your company goals. Every platform you use will ideally push people to your web site; so include links where they make sense. Remember to brand all your pages with all your social media icons and invite them to like or follow you.

 Don't forget to coordinate

  1. Reputation Management-One of the wonderful things about social media is that allows you monitor your online presence. While some negative activity is inevitable, don’t let that discourage you. In fact, social media gives you an opportunity to respond to these negative reviews publicly, and address any issues your consumers have with your brand. And you may be surprised at the positive energy that can stem from your online platforms when you get involved.

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  1. Post relevant content- Remember in all your excitement to post things that will interest your readers but are also relevant to your business. It is ok to have fun, engaging posts but try and make sure they at least have a tie back to your industry. This may mean you have to get creative but that just makes for better posts. There are sites out there that can help you find related content so you don’t have to do it all on your own.


  1. Don’t be afraid to try new things-There are constantly new platforms being introduced. Don’t hesitate to try some of them out. You never know which ones are going to make it or not. Take a chance. But also apply this to your social media strategy. Tried and true is always appropriate, but don’t let that hold you back. Get out there and try new things with your social media.

Now we know that we just gave you a huge chunk of information but keep your chin up! Every business goes through this process. You aren’t alone. On the plus side, there are some awesome benefits that can come from properly using social media. Increased brand awareness, creation and growth of loyal fan base, better search engine rankings and a cool, alternative to traditional marketing and advertising (which in theory also costs way less) are just a few of them.

We hope that we were able to relieve some of the social media stress from your life. Let’s face it, social media can be a full-time job. Seriously, many people make a living out of doing just that. We’d love to help your small business with its social media. Contact us, for more details.

What are some of your most memorable lessons you’ve learned from incorporating social media into your business? Let us know!

About the Author:

As founder of PilmerPR, John Pilmer, APR serves as a PR and marketing communications advisor for both emerging and established companies. He offers customers more than 20 years of results-driven business PR and marketing experience. John and the firm have provided PR consultation and campaigns for clients such as Mozy, Novell, AdvancedMD, Certiport, NextPage, ElectraTherm, Altiris, Avamar, EmergeCore Networks, FSLogic, INVISUS, 10x Marketing, MWI, Project Insight, REIC, Seastone, US Synthetic and Funding Universe (now Lendio), among others.
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