I was recently asked for some advice on how to get started with social media to engage with customers for a small business. I thought I would share that advice with you...
Build a Knowledge Base
It's important you have a point of entry for your customers and with the size of it's user base Facebook is a social platform you cannot ignore. If just starting out, I would use this as your knowledge base where all other forms of social media point to.
Create a buzz about your business
There is no greater tool to create a buzz than Twitter but you need to use it smartly.
Here is what I advise:
- Start with the basic Twitter web interface to build up that trust and following
- Identify a hashtag associated with your business that you can use in all your tweets
- Once you are comfortable with the Twitter concept then I would start to look at third party tools to help organise information, schedule tweets, search on key topics, and engage in conversations. I would recommend Hootsuite as your user interface and something like a Tweepi to help build up a following fast
- Once you are using a third-party tool like HootSuite, use this to integrate your key messages across all social platforms (there are many many other tools that claim that they can integrate your messages across all social platforms but many hinder rather than help. My advice is keep it simple initially)
Some general social media hints and tips:
- Use the same avatar across all social platforms
- Regular tweets are better than a lot of tweets over a short period
- The general rule of thumb is that if someone follows you on Twitter they will follow back so build up your following by following others. If this was a personal account then I would dissuade you from this approach but as it is a business account you are looking at then I would encourage it
- Engage in conversation with other people - don't just post / tweet out your own content
- To build up a following will take time – be patient
- If people ReTweet your message it is good to thank them (I tend to wait til the end of the week to do this and thank 5 / 6 people in one go). They are likely to retweet it again in the future if you do
Checkout some of my other posts on using Twitter effectively:
Other Social Platforms to Consider
Once you are more established with the above then there are other social platforms that you should consider:
- YouTube – If you have some videos, create a YouTube account and upload them there. You can also use your Facebook and Twitter platforms to raise awareness
- SlideShare – This is also a very powerful medium for sharing messages. If you have powerpoints that you would like to share, then SlideShare is a must. Slideshare also has its own social network as well as integrating with Facebook (i.e. people can Like your slideshares)
- LinkedIn – This is much more than just a job resource tool now. With 100,000,000 professional people it is now a valuable and resourceful knowledge sharing community. Join communities that relate to your business and start engaging in conversations and building up trust. Once you have done that you can start “advertising” in these communities. It's useful to try and build up a good relationship with the Community Manager as it is the Community Manager that will kick you out if you just "advertise" your own products
There are literally hundreds of different social tools / platforms out there but don't panic! Start off small, build up that following and most importantly, engage in conversation with people. Afterall, it is people you do business with not tools.