If you just started a business, you might be wondering on what social media you should create an account to help your new biz grow. Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, Google+, Quora, LinkedIn, WhatsApp, Tumblr, Twitter, Skype, Reddit, FourSquare, MySpace, StumbleUpon, YouTube, Vine, Flickr, Meetup, I could go on and on; there are dozens of big international social media platforms, and I’m not even counting the “local” ones like Russian VKontakte or Chinese QQ.
Needless to say, in that big sea of social media platforms, your business' social media accounts start out as tiny fish… but you can still make a difference on social media, attract your own followers and create your own community.
However, there’s no need to kill yourself working to manage dozens of social media accounts - before you start, you’ll need a strategy. A five-step strategy, that is.
1. Where’s your audience - on which social media platforms?
Knowing who your audience is and how they use social media is the first step to creating an online community that will buy what you’re selling.
If you already have clients or if you know who your ideal client is, you can either ask them directly or keep an eye on their online behaviour. Where do they hang out? Which social media do they use to find information, to buy and sell stuff, or just for fun?
For an overview of all social media platforms and their demographics, click here for a great article by Sprout Social. Blogging Apprentice is going to feature several social media platforms and their specific pros and cons in the next few weeks; for now, check our article on why your business needs a Facebook page.
Some audiences have their own dedicated platforms - you will find artists (both up and coming and veterans) on MySpace, photographers on Flickr, and journalists often use Twitter to broadcast their message. If your audience or ideal client consists of professionals or other businesses, LinkedIn is your place to go.
2. Create an account on every relevant social media platform
Yes, you heard that right - create an account on every social network you can lay your hands on. And try using the exact same username for every of those platforms.
First of all, it will act as a placeholder for your business or brand name. When it starts growing, there’s no risk of somebody else using your good name for their own purpose… or (maybe worse), holding the name to sell it to you for far too much.
It will also give your audience a place to find you on every social media platform - even if you’re not active on that particular network, there will still be contact details or a link to your website.
In the next few months, we'll talk about the specifics of creating an account on several of the larger social media platforms - to start creating a Facebook page for your biz or blog, click here!
Try using the same username on every platform, even if you need to get creative; it’s confusing to be called @MyBusiness on Facebook, @My-Business on Instagram, My.Business on YouTube and MyBusiness2012 on Twitter. Get your act together!
3. Build your business account on one social media platform
The general consensus on building your biz on social media is “obsess over one, automate the rest”. And I’m an advocate of that system as well.
Getting social media just right takes quite a lot of time and energy. You’ve got to know where your audience is on that exact platform (what other accounts are they following? When are they online? What are they looking for?), get their attention - and keep that, of course. In my personal opinion, a small and starting business has better things to do than managing social media accounts - there’s clients to talk to and work to be done.
So choose one social media platform; make it one you’re fairly comfortable with, and one your ideal audience hangs out on a lot. Before you put all your time and energy into it, learn how to manage it well; using a social network for business purposes is so different from using it as a person!
I would recommend taking an online course for the social media platform you’re going to concentrate on. The internet is currently full of courses; Blogging Apprentice currently has an e-mail mini-course on setting up a Facebook page, but is also planning more intensive courses on several subjects and social media. Subscribe to the mailing list if you’d like to be kept up to date!
4. Link your business’ other social media accounts
Once your business is all up and running on your top priority social media platform, you could expand your horizons and look at what you can do on other networks.
Mostly, this could consist of linking your accounts: you can set up your blog so it posts automatically to certain social media accounts, you can check a button on Instagram to post all your pictures to Facebook as well, you can make Pinterest images to send more traffic to your Facebook group or Instagram account, etcetera.
If you’re not sure how to do all this, it does pay off to seek the help of a professional.
5. Get help managing your social media
As I’ve been a virtual assistant and social media manager for some time, I might be biased… but at the same time, I’ve seen how much difference a good VA or SMM can make in their clients’ life.
Most small businesses don’t even consider outsourcing their social media accounts, because they want to keep their own voice and know exactly what goes where. However, you can still create and find your own content, write your own captions and make your own plans; it does save lots of time to have a knowledgeable social media manager at your side who will do the groundwork for you… probably at a fraction of the time it would take you to do it all. And their advice? Priceless!
Alternatively, you can hire a cheaper virtual assistant (whether that’s an Asian VA or a family member who needs some extra cash to get through college), and teach them exactly what you want them to say and do. However, that would require you to know exactly what you’re doing.
A good social media manager knows what is going on in the world of social media, when algorithms change, how to promote certain content on a particular platform, and what advertising strategies are worth investing in. Unless you prefer to just pay Facebook every time it tells you it wants money?