beginners guide to social media for businessIf, like me, you’re the generation that didn’t grow up with a smart phone glued to their hand and their lives exposed in minute detail on online, social media may not come naturally to you.  And if you struggle to share every day banalities about your personal life with your online friends, when it comes to your business, posting about your latest offerings or success may be completely alien to you.

But there’s no denying that social media plays a key part in getting new business. It helps spread your message, it brings visitors and backlinks (which in turn help with pushing you up the rankings), it gets you in front of new audiences and, if your website isn’t ranking, it may be the main way people find you.  If you have an inherent aversion to social media it really is time to step out of your comfort zone and get tweeting / posting.

That doesn’t mean you need to go mad, but just have a presence and work your way up.

A disclaimer from me.  I don’t run companies’ social media accounts – I’m not a social media specialist.  I look at the overall digital marketing mix and ensure that you are on the right platforms, that your social media is set up to easily share from your website and you have the right tools in place to respond to social media.  I make sure that when you put a new blog or page on your website, you share it in the right places online.

With that in mind, here’s a beginners guide to social media for business to get your social media working in harmony with your website so your message is spread far and wide.

Which social media platform?

Here’s a brief summary of the main social media platforms you should consider:

Linkedin

BEST FOR: B2B, B2C
TOP 10 INDUSTRIES: Financial, Employment, Science and Technology, Legal, Manufacturing, Marketing, Education, Professional Services, Health and Wellness, IT
TARGET AGE AND GENDER: 25 – 45, both men and women
Your business doesn’t need to be on LinkedIn. You do.

Twitter

BEST FOR: B2C, some B2B
TOP 10 INDUSTRIES: News and Information, Retail, Ecommerce, Health and Wellness, Travel and Hospitality, Telecom, Finance, Fashion, Retail, Sports
TARGET AGE AND GENDER: 18 – 29, both men and women

Facebook

BEST FOR: B2C, in some cases B2B
TOP INDUSTRIES: Fashion, Auto, E-commerce, Retail, Entertainment, Real Estate, Marketing, Sports, Health and Wellness, News and Information
TARGET AGE AND GENDER: Anywhere from 25 – 55+, both men and women

Instagram

BEST FOR: B2C
TOP 10 INDUSTRIES: Travel and Hospitality, Fashion, Health and Wellness, Arts and Crafts, Food and Beverage, Ecommerce, Beauty, Photography, Auto, Event Planning
TARGET AGE AND GENDER: 18 – 35, mostly women, but that’s shifting

Pinterest

BEST FOR: B2C
TOP 10 INDUSTRIES: Retail, Health and Wellness, Travel and Hospitality, Fashion, Ecommerce, Arts and Crafts, Food and Beverage, Beauty, Home and Garden, Event Planning
TARGET AGE AND GENDER: 18 – 45, mostly women

Snapchat

A goldmine for businesses targeting millennials but if you audience is older, probably best give it a miss.

When it comes to choosing which social media to sign up to, it’s not which platform you personally prefer, you need to be where your audience is actually spending time.  And a word of warning – don’t stretch yourself too thin on social media.  Pick the two or three platforms that will yield the best results. Know your audience and then focus on putting your business only in the places where they spend time.

 

What to share?

Posts and pages from your website, anything that inspires you / is topical from any other website or social media that you think will be of interest to your audience.  Don’t just put out your own stuff and make it a two-way conversation where you can.  (As I said I only push out content on behalf of my clients on social media and I encourage them to be the human voice that monitors or responds to the real world.  Of course you can pay a social media company to do the whole package for you if you have the budget).

 

How often should you share content from your website?

If you only share your new blog post once or twice and then worry you are starting to sound like a stuck record, think again. It comes back to many of us feeling uncomfortable about oversharing.  But here’s a few facts to make you rethink.

Every single second, there are:

  • 840 images published on Instagram
  • 2,670,000 emails sent
  • 8000 messages tweeted

Research by bitly revealed that links shared on Facebook, Twitter, and via direct sources like email or instant message have a shelf life of about 3 hours. More recent studies indicate a tweet’s shelf life is five minutes or less before it evaporates for good.  Now, couple that shelf life with the staggering amount of noise on social.

This is further compounded by the dismal reality of that post’s reach. With the latest facebook algorithm updates, where they are making friends posts more prominent over complaints that people’s feeds were too full of promotions/adverts, the reality is you are lucky if anyone gets to see your post at all.

So be sure to share, share and share again – don’t be afraid to link back to it over the coming days, weeks and months (if it’s still topical).

And how best to do this – use a social media tool.

To automate or not to automate?

You can just share content from your website as and when you feel like it. But it can be a faff.  And then you have to remember to do it and what happens when you aren’t around.

A more productive and efficient way is to automate to some degree by using a social media planning tool.  I use Hootsuite.  You can link it up to your social media platforms (the free account has a limit of 3 social profiles) and at some point every week, schedule your messages to go out to the different platforms.

I say automate to some degree because you want to keep it natural and not just hammer out the same message over and over. (Which has put many people off automated social media).  It’s simple to tweak what you say and think about the message style on the different platforms. This isn’t a robot taking over your messaging (like many companies do) it’s just making it easier for you.

The tentative first steps

This is by no means a comprehensive guide to running a social media account. Just a beginners guide to social media to get you participating, encouraging you to do a bit more and feel comfortable about it.  Start by selecting one or two platforms, getting your profile up to date and looking good and then be social. Share your stories, share other stories, have a go.