Social Media For Business 101

With the spectacular expansion of social media, people are talking and sharing their experiences about almost everything at an unprecedented rate. Whether you’re active on social sites or not, there’s a good chance that somewhere someone is talking about your business.

Given the level of activity across a multitude of social platforms, joining the conversation in a way that serves your company well is essential.  Dropping the ball on this can be a lot more detrimental now than in the past. Just as more people are talking about what they love, they are also talking about what disappoints them.

So how do you cut through the noise and commotion and make positive headway in building your company’s social side? Like anything, your best bet is to start with the basics and get more involved as you go. Here are some foundational best practices to make your social media efforts more productive right from the start.

Know your platforms. Understanding what different social media platforms offer and which ones would work best for your business is critical. It’s all about the quality of your interactions, not the quantity. Pick and choose the channels that most closely match your main objectives. Instagram, for example, is a photo sharing site, while LinkedIn is a professional business network. If your goal is to expand your network of professional contacts, LinkedIn is the logical choice.  If you are a retailer that makes handcrafted baby bows, sharing images of your products on Instagram with links to your online website would be a better route to results.

Think strategically. Afraid of being left on the sidelines, many businesses jump into social media without a goal or a plan. This can do more harm than good. Set expectations for what you plan on doing along with basic guidelines for employees with social media responsibilities. Are you trying to gain insights into what your customers are saying? Are you in it for branding only? Do you want to create a sales support tool? These are all important questions that need to be addressed. Without a clear-cut goal, you’re bound to get overwhelmed.

Be proactive, not reactive. Social media is a lot easier to manage with effective planning. While being able to engage quickly is important, there’s great benefit in posts that spring from strategic thinking. Including information on your industry makes good business sense, just as mixing in content that is light and conversational will help enhance engagement. Take the time to create a monthly social media calendar so you know when you are going to post and can write content in advance. Of course, newsworthy or entertaining things will come up and you’ll want to add them to the schedule on the fly. By all means, let them rip. Just don’t get caught in a never-ending cycle of scrambling for something to say.

Underneath all the platforms and posts, social media is a conversation. Like the good guest at a dinner party, contribute something interesting to get the ball rolling, take time to really listen, and share details about yourself selectively, and you’ll make all the right impressions. And isn’t that what showing your social side is all about?

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