As you read this, there are about 300 million active users on Twitter. The Washington Post recently reported there are almost as many people registered to use Facebook as there are people living in China — the largest country in the world by population! Long story short, social media can make a huge impact on your business.
- No up-front cost to get started with your own social media accounts.
- Opportunity to connect with customers and industry allies quickly.
- Easy way to test response to new ideas, products, or business lines.
Small business owners are attracted to social media because it’s fast and free, but remember: There’s an opportunity cost for everything. While a compelling social presence helps you reach people faster than practically anything else, social media marketing can also be a time sink if it’s done incorrectly.
So, what are the most important things you need to know to reap the benefits of social media marketing?
There are plenty of folks out there who can’t wait to tell you exactly how to write a 150-character tweet — and, certainly, some social media posts are more effective than others. Far more important, though, is understanding the overarching principles behind using social media well.
Let’s review the four most important things for business owners to keep in mind:
Four Things to Remember About Using Social Media in Business
1) Consistency is Key
To make a good impression on social media, you need to post daily. When people expect regular updates, they’ll be more likely to interact with you: That’s the difference between using social media to build relationships versus using it as an electronic billboard. People generally won’t follow your account if your latest update is more than ten days old.
2) Conversations are Vital
No matter what social media network you’re on, one of the first things you should do is learn how to message others publicly using their username. “Liking,” “favoriting,” or commenting on someone’s recent post serves as an invitation to talk directly and get people interested in you. Even more crucial? Remember and reference previous conversations.
3) You Have to Give to Get
Many larger brands make the mistake of using social media exclusively as a way to advertise offers. Instead, think of your social media followers the same way you’d think about your email list: Share something of value three or four times before announcing one offer that requires an investment. The biggest difference between your lists and followers? Your list subscribers might get a message from you once a week; your social followers get the same amount of content in bite-sized chunks over several days.
Yes, you should use hashtags to join the conversation on trending topics — this makes it easier for new followers to identify the subjects of your posts and find you on an increasingly crowded Web. Still, you should strive to have a light touch. Recently, The Salvation Army caught a lot of flak for using a lighthearted tag, #TheDress, as the basis of a domestic violence PSA. While a trusted organization can bounce back from mistakes like this, they are costly. Being perceived as “tone deaf” could make your brand the butt of the next online joke.
Mastering social media can be a challenge, but the benefits of social media marketing are ideal for fast-moving businesses. Don’t wait another day before you get started!
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