Build is the operative word. Signing up for a social account is easy. The rest takes hard work. If social media seems like it should come naturally in a day and age when everyone is logged into Facebook and Pinterest, running an effective business campaign can be surprisingly difficult. After all, who is ‘friends’ with a business?
Potentially, lots of people, but winning these friends over requires the right approach. We did some research, and came up with the Top Five Things Every Startup Should Know About Social Media.
#1 Be human. This is the question that every business on social media must answer: how do you promote a business and sound like an actual human being? Business profiles have a natural tendency to fall into marketer-speak, but those that do are likely to lose friends or, at the very least, have their posts hidden. QUICK TIP: On some level this is a gut decision, but here is a good rule of thumb: if an update would sound weird posted to your personal profile, give it a long, hard look.
#2 Don’t spam. That means don’t overdo it. Followers will wince at screens that are filled with posts from your business, so decide how much good, relevant content your business can deliver on social media, create a schedule and stick to it. Also, avoid duplicate content. Don’t automatically post Tweets to Facebook and vice versa because the odds are good that your customers follow you in both spheres. Twitter is well suited for quick bursts of info such as brief announcements, quick tips and links to longer content, whereas Facebook is great for interaction and as a conversation platform. QUICK TIP: Tailor your content and posts to fit the purpose of each social media service.
#3 Be selective about social media sites. There is no reason to create a social profile for every site that is out there. But where your customers are, you should be. For artisanal or heavily visual businesses such as design firms, a site like Pinterest or Instagram will likely generate more interaction from customers than a newsy site such as Twitter. QUICK TIP: A focused effort in two or three social media profiles will be much more effective than a scattershot effort in five or six.
#4 Analyze your investment. Social media is not free, even if it is advertised that way. Track the time it takes to manage your social media presence and measure it against the benefits it provides in the form of Web hits and referrals. QUICK TIP: Use sites that provide social analytics such as Bitly (www.bitly.com) or Klout (http://www.klout.com) to determine how many people are actually interacting with your social media presence.
#5 Social media is a conversation. Newspapers are learning this the hard way. Gone are the days when media messages came down to the masses from on high. These days, mass communication is a two-way street. QUICK TIP: Be sure to answer your friends’ and followers’ posts and comments. Social media is a telephone – not a megaphone.