Not every entrepreneur is social media savvy, and yet we all should be using these valuable tools to help us find new customers. The beautiful thing about social media is that it offers business owners an additional platform to redirect users to their website. And let’s be honest, if you’re going to put the time and effort into supporting a social media site, click-throughs to your website are the big payoff.
It’s not enough just to have a Facebook business page. Having an established website will give you credibility in users’ eyes when they visit your social sites. It will also provide you with a place to tell your company’s story in your own words. So, if you don’t have a website yet, the first step of your social media plan should be to register a domain name for your business, and start a website. While your website is being built, you can connect, or redirect, your domain name to your social media page in the meantime.
And, while it can take 12 months or even years to build up a substantial following on social media (after all, I didn’t get over 320,000 Twitter followers overnight!), you can kick your social media into high gear in just three days with this easy-to-follow plan:
Day 1: Decide Which Social Sites You Need
The fact is, you don’t need to be on Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Pinterest. Pick the top two social sites where your audience spends the most time, and where they’re receptive to interacting with brands. On this first day, spend some time on each site, digging around to see who’s there and how they’re using it. For example, on Twitter, which hashtags do you notice most? Once you have gathered this info, then go ahead and prioritize the social sites you think will be best for reaching your audience.
You’ll also want to sharpen your social media management skills. If you’re new to using any of these channels, now is the time to find books and blogs to teach you at least the basics of using them for business purposes (and yes, using Facebook as a business is much different from becoming a top influencer on Instagram). The rest will come with practice.
Some suggestions to help you today include:
- Check out the competition. How are they using each social site? Where are they coming up short? Take notes, because this will help shape your own social media strategy.
- Search keywords that can help you find your audience. That might include your city if you’re a local business, interests, or even your product type (e.g., accounting software) to see who’s talking about them.
- Make a list of things you don’t know and do want to know about using these channels. When is the best time to post? Can you schedule content in advance? How do you get people to follow you?
Day 2: Develop a Plan of Attack
You know the sites most likely to help you connect with potential customers. Now you need to develop a content strategy that will help you achieve your social media goals.
Having a social media strategy gives you direction. It helps you establish goals and work toward achieving them. Having a Facebook account to share information about your products and services is a great way to get in front of customers, but you need to have links back to your website from all of your social media accounts so that you can provide customers with more valuable information, like product descriptions, coupons and more. Getting a bunch of fans on Facebook is nice, but getting those fans to click through to your website and buy something: Now that’s a goal.
As mentioned, the whole point to doing social media is to drive traffic back to your website, so Day 2, you need to decide how you will develop valuable content and start doing it. If writing is not your thing, try pictures, videos or podcast interviews. I suggest developing at least 10 pieces of content before launching into social media. Be sure to share a mixture of your content and other people’s content too, so that you can build a reputation as a trusted resource. And don’t forget to include a call to action to visit your website.
Here are my tips for strategizing:
- Be flexible. Social media algorithms change almost daily, so your strategy will need to reflect these platform changes and phase out those strategies that are not working.
- Pay attention to results. Every month, look at your website analytics reports to see how well each channel is doing at helping you reach your goals. Are you incorporating hyperlinks to your website in any Tweets? Does your Facebook page have your website listed as the homepage? Adjust accordingly.
- Try new things. As I said, you’ll learn a lot as you work on this, so experimenting with types of content, new channels and up-and-coming tools can help you be more competitive.
Day 3: Dive Right In
Now that you’ve identified the best sites for your social media efforts, and you have a plan of attack, don’t be shy about jumping in. Before you follow anyone, however, post a few updates on each channel. That gives people who might want to follow you some substance to help them decide whether or not they want to follow you back.
Don’t opt for the “This is my first Tweet!” type updates. Instead, knock them dead with really insightful and interesting content. A few tips:
- Blog posts are good pieces of content to share on social media, especially if they resonate with your target audience. And they provide an opportunity for users to link back to your website and explore its content.
- Ask a thought-provoking question about a blog post published elsewhere.
- Don’t make it too self-promotional! I recommend that only about 20% of your social updates should be your content.
With a little meat on the bones of your social media structure, it’s time to start connecting with others. Social sites usually have a process for recommending who to follow based on your contacts, so start there. Then search for those keywords you used when you did your research on Day 1 to identify others who might be interested in your message. Customers, too, are great additions to your social network.
My suggestions for who to follow:
Quality is better than quantity. You’re not aiming for the highest number of connections, but rather the ones most likely to click, like and share your content.
- Follow people back if they fit what you’re looking for in a contact.
- Search for hashtags that relate to your industry and follow those using them.
Social media is a fantastic tool, and you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to benefit from it. In just three days, you’ve gone from zero to social media savvy, and it only gets better from here.
This post was sponsored by Verisign and reflects the views and opinions of Melinda Emerson and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of Verisign.
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