Social Media 101

Are you considering dipping your toe into social media for your business but still have lingering questions? Are you wondering: How it works? Why it works? Is it worth it? Here we’ll explain social media from a bird’s eye view perspective, and give you some tips for how to launch your own brand’s presence online.

First, determine your goals for using social media. Expecting an instant ROI in your sales? That’s not how this works.

Instead, social media will build your brand awareness, generate goodwill toward your brand, help you engage with current customers and find new ones, demonstrate your superior customer service and yes, in doing all that, build sales leads.

With traditional public relations and print journalism on the wane, social media is the emerging platform for communicating your message directly to your customers.

But it doesn’t happen overnight. Provide adequate lead time to build an audience before you need to release an important message. In our opinion, adequate lead time is 3-6 months. After three months you’ll be showing steady growth (maybe 500+ Twitter followers); after 6 months you’ll be on a roll (perhaps 2,000 Twitter followers). Imagine how many followers you’ll have after a year! (Note: followers grow more slowly on Facebook’s business or “fan” pages)

Post to social media frequently on a variety of topics to create a terrific resource for your audience. Create posts/tweets/grams/pins that are short, catchy and visual. Remember, everyone has a short attention span online, so don’t try to tell your whole story all at once. Vary your content. While you want to promote your business, you also want to share other information to keep your audience engaged. This is where fun social media tools like memes, videos and GIFS come in. You can create them or simply share those that others/your followers have created.

Think about your ideal consumer or business partner: What would they like to see? What information do they need? What would grab their attention? What makes them laugh? What would they share? And keep in mind: what is the narrative I’d like to tell? What is my business model, original story, personal philosophy, special cause, most fun employee event, Even if you have a nuts-and-bolts business, “the human element” is most effective at gaining attention online (e.g.: pictures of smiling faces).

The crucial piece of the puzzle, and why you need someone (or several someones) dedicated to social media, is engagement. Engagement is the secret sauce behind what we do. It takes more time and effort than simply creating and scheduling posts. Engagement means finding relevant and related content from others and sharing it on your platforms. It means liking others’ posts and commenting. But wait… aren’t you hiring a social media manager to promote you?

Yes. But…

Social media works in a “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” model. That’s the wonder of it: All this content sharing is free (unlike paid advertising), if only you take the time to initiate and reciprocate the love. Liking, sharing, tagging and commenting on others’ content is at the heart of the work. The general rule of thumb is: Follow the 80/20 rule: Share others’ content 80% of the time and your own 20% of the time. So you’ll see varied posts in your page’s feed, not just your own content over and over.

It’s a conversation, not a speech.

Once you’re up and running, don’t forget to assess regularly. Use a social media management tool to see how your messages are performing, what your best posts and times are, and to find out the demographic breakdown of your audience. “Mention” shows results for keywords. “Sprout”and “Buffer” analyze your Facebook and Twitter statistics. “LocoWise” analyzes your Instagram performance compared to other profiles. And “Pinterest” and “LinkedIn” yield their own reports under “Analytics.” “Tailwind” measures engagement on Pinterest and Instagram.

Finally, social media is constantly changing. Just as you acquire mastery over one platform, it changes the rules. Facebook “fan” pages used to be shown to everyone who had liked the page. Now you must “pay to promote” to get most of your audience to see your posts. And there are new platforms coming into the field all the time. But if you keep up-to-date, you’ll be able to thrive. You’ll not only grow your online audience but also your brand’s goodwill, and that can only help the bottom line.

Now you’re ready to get out there and begin your social media conversation. If you any need help, give us a holler at!

Virginia Woodruff
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