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Social Media for Beginners: 9 Steps to Business Success

Social media is becoming an essential part of doing business online, so if you’ve not particularly needed social media up to this point, my hat goes off to you! You’re obviously doing something right with your other channels – congrats!

But starting to work with social media can be a real turning point for your marketing efforts. Using social media for business (and doing so consistently) is a great way to find new custom, communicate quickly with your audience, and forge new connections with business contacts.

So without further ado, let’s crack on with the steps!

1. The Early Worm Gets Caught

Companies that jump blindly into social media are setting themselves up for a fall. Just like starting any kind of habit, starting slowly and gradually usually results in the best payoff. If you’ve been putting social media off for a while then blasting yourself with it all at once is going to cause some serious overwhelm! Give yourself a small and achievable goal to begin with – set aside say 20-30 minutes a day to tinker with social media and get comfortable with using it.

Even if you plan on delegating social media management to someone else, you need to understand how it all works, why you’re engaging on different platforms, what makes each audience tick, and indeed how long given tasks take. Also, think carefully about what you want to achieve from social. What made you decide to use social media? What SMART goals do you have in mind for your social media journey?

2. Any Customers Here?

New social media platforms pop up every so often, each with their own etiquette and ways of doing things. If you see a particular platform that takes your fancy, give it a go! But whatever you do, don’t sign up for every social media platform under the sun – that’s another recipe for overwhelm! Facebook and Twitter are good all-rounders, but it pays to research which platforms are most popular within your target audience and your industry. Use market research to discover where your prospective clients hang out online – their feedback may surprise you!

3. Show and Tell

Once you start to get a handle on your desired platforms, you need to fill in your company’s contact details so people know who you are, what you do, and how to get in touch. Your details and contact info are displayed differently between platforms, but you’ll most likely be able to include some variation on the following:

  • A username – a unique name that identifies your business on the platform.
  • Your Company Name – clearly state your company name so other users can identify you.
  • A short introduction about your business – briefly describe who you are and what you do. Especially important on Twitter and Instagram!
  • Your location – So users can find your premises easily without having to look elsewhere online. Essential if you’re dependent on foot traffic.
  • Your phone number, email address, and website link – include all of your generic contact details on social profiles so users can easily get in touch without having to Google you separately. It just makes things easier.

4. Lurk First, Post Second

Look around at what others in your field are posting before you start posting yourself. Use each platform’s “follow” or “like” functions to keep tabs on other influential companies and individuals in your field – yes, even your competitors! Establish how other organisations in your field use each platform:

  • What do they post?
  • Who do they engage with?
  • What do they talk about?
  • What do they look like they’re trying to achieve from social?
  • Do they usually post text posts, images, or videos?
  • Do they share links to blog posts and other content?
  • Is that information taken from their own website or from a source external to them?

If you follow the same company on two or more different social networks, make a note of how they use different platforms differently. Make yourself aware of how those in your industry generally act over social media. Much like networking in-person, it pays to keep quiet and observe at first – diving in without getting the measure of things first can be embarrassing!

5. Sharing is Caring

Just because you’re using social media for promotional reasons, it doesn’t mean that you have to solely share your company’s own blogs and videos. The easiest place to start when sharing links to content over social is to link to content from elsewhere, known as “content curation” – especially useful if your company doesn’t have much content to share.

Stay on the lookout for engaging blogs and videos from influential bodies in your industry or generally in business. Are there any relevant trade magazines that you read regularly? It may be worth hopping over to their website to see if their articles are available online for you to link to.

In terms of more general business resources, check out the following:

But before you share external content, always read/watch it before you share it! The article may have an agreeable title but may contain something that clashes with your industry or views that are generally unprofessional. Vet each piece to ensure it aligns well with your brand.

6. Offline Friends Become Online Friends

If you have trusted friends and associates that are active on your social platforms of choice, it might be worth having a chat with them (in real life) about how they use social media and what they tend to post. Those who run their own businesses or manage social media for their employer may be most useful to you, but casual users can teach you a thing or two as well.

Chat to them with an open mind – how much can you learn from them about social media? What is their level of expertise in using each platform? Even if they are at the learning stages like yourself, there will likely be things to learn from them and vice versa. Follow or like them over social to observe how they use each platform.

7. Taking the Plunge

Now your social media confidence is growing, it’s time to create your own posts. Start off by sharing simple text posts about what you do and the problems you solve for clients – include links to case studies and testimonials too if you like. Look at conversations others are having about topics in your field; if you are able to help with something, then reply in a friendly and approachable tone.

Remember how others in your industry use the platform and how they engage with their audience. However, you should never copy any other social media account’s approach verbatim. The goals they have for social media may be very different to yours!

Social media also presents a great opportunity to network with other business people. LinkedIn is naturally best for B2B networking, but Twitter is good for a more informal chat – especially Twitter’s numerous business networking hashtag hours.

8. Stay Regular

Once you’re regularly using social, you need to stay consistent. Don’t just leave your social accounts to stagnate – social media isn’t a “set it and forget it” thing. By its very nature you need to keep posting and interacting, even if it just means popping your head in once a day, creating a quick post, and responding to new notifications. Those with busy or unpredictable workdays may want to look into social media scheduling tools like Hootsuite or Buffer which allow you to plan your posts in advance. This way, your followers won’t see any “downtime”, giving a consistent impression come rain or shine.

9. Tell the World!

By the time you’ve reached this stage, you’re hopefully quite confident with using your social media platforms of choice, so it’s time to tell the world! If you use email marketing, let your subscribers know which social platforms you are using – with a link to your profile on each – encouraging them to follow you there. If your social presence is still going strong when your website is next due for a tune-up, why not include links to your social accounts in the header or footer on your site as well?

Once you follow these steps, you’ll hopefully be confident enough to graduate to the more complex aspects of social media. But if your head’s still spinning, why not check out our handy-dandy social media jargon buster?

The ultimate, stress-free #beginnersguide guide to starting out on #socialmedia Click To Tweet

Are you new to social? How far are you into your social journey? Can you add any nuggets of wisdom from a beginner’s perspective? What platforms do you get on most with? Let us know down in the comments!