by Michele Swetesich-Leon

Many small businesses have a team that works together to manage everything…me, myself and I.  They wear many hats. Man on floor surrounded by many hatsThat pretty much describes my team, perhaps you can relate.  Maybe the thought of social media is so overwhelming that you’ve been avoiding it.  After all, there are more social media sites than you can count on two hands.  So here’s my recommendation for getting started.

Begin by establishing your goals and objectives.  You’ll also need to understand your target audience.  These things are extremely important.

Next, evaluate the various social media platforms to understand what they bring to the table.  Each platform serves a different purpose.  For example, if your goal is to build business alliances then LinkedIn makes the most sense.  LinkedIn is a B2B (business 2 business) community.  If you sell women’s apparel and your objective is to get your company name and product in front of more prospects, Pinterest is the social media platform for you.  Women make up 70% of Pinterest users.  Additionally it’s all about visual content.  As they say, “a picture is worth a thousand words”.  So if you have a highly visual product or service i.e. a florist, interior designer, cake decorator or artist you’d be a fool to ignore Pinterest.  I think you get the picture.

Once you evaluate the various social media platforms, identify the top 2 platforms that best align with your goals and objectives.  Why only two?  Because more than that is more than most small business teams can handle.  Social media can quickly and easily become overwhelming. My team and I suggest taking it one bite at a time.  The goal here is to set you up to succeed.

The next step is to establish a posting schedule.  This will keep you on track so that you’re posting consistently.  Posting once a week on the same day each week is better than posting whenever the mood strikes.  Think of it this way.  You have a favorite TV show, one of mine is Castle.  Castle comes on every Monday at 9 pm MST.  I look forward to seeing it.  Monday comes, it’s 9 pm and I turn on the boob tube and Castle isn’t on.  And here I was so looking forward to watching; how disappointing.  Imagine if your favorite show didn’t have a scheduled time slot and you had no way of knowing when it would air.  That would suck!  The show would likely loose followers.  No one wants that, so stick to a posting schedule.  You can use a tool like Hootsuite that allows you to manage multiple platforms from one program.  You can even schedule your posts in advance.  And guess what, HootSuite offers a free version that allows you to manage up to 3 social media platforms.  That’s perfect because you only have two to manage.  And if you choose to start out with one, that’s OK too.

Now that you’ve determined how often you’ll be posting you know how much content you’ll need.  When it comes to posting content you must understand the 80/20 rule.  Eighty percent of what you post should have value or interest to viewers with no more than twenty percent of your posts focused on selling your product or services.  Don’t know what to share with your viewers that they’ll find valuable or of interest?  Here are some ideas:

♦  Customer testimonials or successes are great to share.

♦  Share tools that would benefit them, like free apps or resources.

♦  Recommend someone else’s products or services that you don’t offer.

♦ Industry news

♦  Confront myths in your industry.

♦  A personal image of the week.  It’s a wonderful way for people to get to know you or your staff.

There are third party posting applications, that you pay for, which offer content resources within their programs.  The social media platforms they work with vary so before you sign-up make sure to find out if they work with the platforms you plan on using.  By the way, after you start posting take advantage of any analytics associated with the platform to determine if you need to tweak your posting schedule.  You may want to start out by post a few times a day at different times to see when you’re viewer’s best connect with you.   When it comes to posting, there isn’t one time of day that fits all, despite what you may have heard.

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Are you ready to start using social media to promote your business?  I’ve given you a simple road map to begin your social media journey.  Now all you have to do is follow it.  Once you’re comfortable then consider taking another bite.

What’s holding your small business back from diving into social media?

Which social media platforms are you using to promote your business?  How are they working for you?

Share your feedback in the comments below.