Updated on 01.07.15

Social Media Basics for Your Business

Social media logos

Don’t spread yourself too thin when it comes to social media. Find one site that resonates best with your target market, and then master it. Image: Sean MacEntee

As I suggested in 15 Ways to Grow Your Business This Year, it’s time to pick a social media platform that best suits you or your business and crush it!

Below are some basic steps to start your company toward building an effective social media strategy.

Do an Audit

Take a snapshot of your company’s social media situation. If you don’t have the acumen or time to do this, find someone on your team who will step up to champion the cause. You may have to find an outside social media manager if no one on your team has the skill set to handle these duties.

Questions to consider:

  • What is your firm already doing on social media?
  • What platforms is your company on?
  • What platforms are your employees on for personal and/or professional reasons?
  • What are your company’s social media policies?
  • Do you have company social media guidelines?

Take inventory of your employees’ online presence and social media skills. Often there is a social media guru in the wings who has a much stronger online presence than your company. This is especially true for small businesses.

Where Are Your Customers?

If you’re in business, you should know who your target market is and isn’t.

Figure out where your target market is online — either by asking them or by using research — and have a strong presence on that platform. Don’t waste your time marketing where you customers aren’t. Don’t move to the North Pole to sell ice.

Sounds simple, but I cannot stress this enough. There are too many small businesses on Facebook with most of or all their page “likes” from family and friends. That’s fine if you run a business that primarily serves your family and friends. But most of these businesses don’t serve the family and friends who’ve liked their page.

Talk about a waste of time.

Where Is Your Competition?

If you don’t know where to start, another easy place to find low-hanging fruit is to study your competition.

Start with a visit to your competitor’s websites and look for social media icons. This will provide a good indication of what platforms they’re using.

Go one step further and visit their social media accounts and make notes about what they’re doing:

  • What are they doing well?
  • Where do they need to improve?
  • What platform is their strongest?
  • Which is their weakest?
  • Do you think it’s intentional?

Analyzing the competition is a good way to find opportunities to exploit social media holes for your company. It will serve your company best to analyze a couple of different competitors and their presence on social media.

See something your competitor is doing well? Why not borrow an idea or two? If your competition has a high level of engagement on a platform, don’t shy away from it; odds are good your customers and potential customers are there, too.

Learn From the Pros

Steal one man’s writing and they call it plagiarism; borrow from multiple writers and they call it research.

Social media is so embryonic there are no experts with 20 years of experience. Take a look at when some of the major social media platforms were founded:

  • Facebook – 2004
  • YouTube – 2005
  • Twitter – 2006
  • Pinterest – 2009
  • Snapchat – 2011

Despite the newness of social media, it’s wise to find and study a few social media thought leaders like Social Media ExaminerMari Smith, and Gary Vaynerchuk to keep up with the best practices, trends, and emerging platforms.

Social Media Strategy

Do you need to be on every social media platform? No.

Pick the primary one that your company needs to be on and start building a strategy for it. This should take advantage of what your company is already doing well and where your customers are. Each platform you choose to be on (if more than one) should have its own mission, vision, and KPI (key performance indicators).

Once you build your company’s strategy, it’s time to execute.

Execute, Evaluate, and Tweak

You should have a comprehensive strategy outlined and social media guidelines and best practices for your employees.

Have tools in place to monitor your company’s social media execution. Set a period of 30, 60, or 90 days to perform another social media audit and re-evaluate what’s working and what needs to be tweaked or scrapped.

Social media can be a great driver of traffic, leads, branding, and revenue if you play your hand right. Start with these basics and your company will be headed in the right direction.

Joe Sweeney is a social entrepreneur, committed to helping individuals and organizations grow and solve problems. Most recently, he was the co-founder and CEO at 100state, a nonprofit, startup community of entrepreneurs, educators, and innovators in Madison, Wis. Joe was recently named one of 53 entrepreneurs on Madison Magazine’s “M List: The New Who’s Who” for his work with 100state.

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