We’ve already established that going social for your business in 2014 is not a matter of if, but why. Armed with that knowledge, we thought it was only fair to share the nuts and bolts of howto establish and manage your social media presence.
We have not 5, not 10, but 20 concrete steps to take you from “What social media platform is best for my industry?” to “What, you don’t have a social media manager?” in no time.
2014: It’s Social Media Party Time!
Let us invite you to our party. That’s right, with all our talk of cake lately; we’ve also gotten in the mood for parties. And with social media’s emphasis on engagement and, well, being social, we thought a party with all its intricacies — from venue to wardrobe and guest list — was the perfect illustration. So, for the duration of our time together, it’s party time. Who knew reading a blog could be so much fun?
Pick Your Parties: Platform Selection
Think of each social media platform as a swanky party. Each has its own vibe, venue, and party-goers who can’t get enough. It is your mission to find the parties your business should attend and get in the conversation. Which leads us to…
Step #1: Finding the Right Social Media Platforms for You
It’s tempting to setup a profile on every available platform to get the most exposure for your business. But as a small business owner, your time is precious and this one-size-fits-all strategy runs the risk of wearing your resources too thin.
Instead, you need to research and find out where your social media target demographic hangs out, and go to those parties. You wouldn’t see a bunch of guys at brunch, would you? So if you run an online Poker site you wouldn’t necessarily need to party on a Pinterest page (used predominantly by women at 84%, according to Business Insider).
The only exception to this rule? Google+. Although this platform is overwhelmingly used by men, all businesses could use the SEO pick-me-up this site provides.
Dress to Impress: Social Media Profile Set Up
You know which platforms to focus on. Now, how should you prepare your profiles for the best exposure possible? This next tips and tricks will get your business profiles dressed to impress in no time.
Step # 2: Choosing the Right Profile Picture
If your company has a logo, you are probably farther along on this step than you think. The perfect profile image is, you guessed it, your logo. Already a key part in your branding, your logo will make it easy for potential clients to identify your business, no matter where they bump into you.
Step #3: Using Quality Imagery
Banner. Cover. Header. Theme. Channel Art.
No matter what the platform calls it, most of them have space for a larger image on your profile. Think of it as your chance to accessorize your party-perfect profile picture (your logo, right?) with an engaging pop of color and personality.
To brand your profile further, we suggest using your website’s color scheme and images as the inspiration for your larger feature image. It is also crucial to adhere to the imagery guidelines for each platform. Fuzzy images or an overuse of text, like too much makeup or a clashing tie, will totally throw off your look.
Step #4: Choosing an Easily Identifiable and Keyword-Conscience Username
Your social media handles need to be easy for customers to connect with your company name, tagline or main service, according to Forbes. In other words, when people see your posts on their feed they shouldn’t be confused about who the post is from – that’s as silly as not introducing yourself. So, thoughtfully pick a social media name and stick with it across all platforms.
And remember to use keywords. Say you are a Wedding Planner. Instead of using your company name, you may want to consider including your location and main service, like “DallasWeddings.”
Step #5: Crafting Consistent Company Taglines and Descriptions
Before you complete your profile set up, take some time to distill your company’s goals into a succinct tagline, longer description, mission statement, and history blurb. As with the “big picture” in step #3, you can take key points from your website to craft this information. Once you (or the copywriter you hired) write a tagline, long description, and mission for your business, you can plug them into all of your profiles.
Consistency is the name of the game here, too. Not only do you want to coordinate with the formality and tone on your site, you also want all of your profiles to communicate the same message as well. And as with your username, remember to use industry keywords while maintaining a written-for-people vibe.
Step #6: Providing Consistent Contact Info, Address, Hours
This party parallel is pretty obvious. If you met someone interesting at the party, they would need a way to get in touch with you. Your social media profile should tell customers exactly where and how to contact you.
Step #7: Claiming Custom URLs
Just like a manicure adds imperceptible polish to any party prep, your effort to claim vanity URLs will add a much-needed touch of professionalism to your profiles.
First, a pop quiz: Which URL looks more polished and inviting?
(The correct answer is A, of course.)
This step takes a bit more effort because some platforms have requirements to claim your URL — like these for Google+. The extra elbow grease is totally worth it to provide a more inviting persona for your customers to interact with.
Get the Party Started: Social Optimization
Help people find, connect, and share content from your pristine profiles with these next steps.
Step #8: Making It Easy for People to Connect with You
After all of your (readable, but SEO-friendly) profiles are created with their shiny, custom URLs, you need to spread the word. From the social side, simply add the links of your profiles to each of your other profiles for a seamless experience. Your super fans will be able to connect with you at every party you attend.
Step #9: Connecting Your Social Profiles to Your Site
Another crucial way to spread the word? As soon as your profiles are established, add social icons to your header or footer — or both. If you have room, add some encouraging copy like “Connect with Us!” Another fun touch: You can even get your site developers to add a live Twitter feed to your sidebar.
Step #10: Allowing People to Share Your Content
You also need to make it easy for people to post your blogs and pages to their social media profiles by adding share buttons wherever possible.
Party Personality: Consistent Messaging
These next tips will help you find your social media voice and the right content to share.
Step #11: Creating Consistent Personality
Before you post your first tweet, you need to decide what personality or voice you want to have. Totally professional? Friendly, conversational? Again, you want to represent yourself well, so your voice needs to be consistent with your industry and your social media engagement as it grows.
Step #12: Picking Consistent Content
Next decide what kind of links to share. Think of this as your acceptable list of conversation topics you have up your sleeve when approaching party-goers, ahem, potential clients.
Here are a few lists you can make to help you find quality content.
1. Competitors sites. Never link to pages that could give your top competition business over you!
2. Acceptable industry relevant sites. You know your industry and what people interested in your industry like. Take some time to find some sites that regularly generate great content on your industry. Check them daily for potential posts to share.
3. Fun sites. Does your industry lend itself to any type of playfulness? We’re big fans of puns and wordplay here. Going back to the poker site example, you may want to find movie clips of famous poker scenes to share for your social platforms. This little bit of entertainment will help establish the personality behind your brand. Don’t overshare this type of content, but a few entertaining posts will enhance your personality potential.
And don’t forget to generate your own quality content (like a blog) to share via social media.
Step #13: Linking to SEO-Friendly Sites
This year SEO is all about quality content, so you should make sure to link to trusted content that’s valuable or interesting to your potential clients. One tool that makes this super-easy is the MozBar. You can download it to your browser’s toolbar and access each link. You are looking for a site with a Root Domain DA of 40 or above.
Time to Chat it Up: Consistent Connection
You’re at the party, you’re dressed to kill, and you even have some conversation starters in your back pocket. Now it’s time to get in there and engage. Bonus points for making a plan.
Step #14: Finding the Right Friends and Clients
Now that you’ve entered the scene, the most important thing to share is information relevant to your industry. Remember you’re not going for a certain number of likes; you’re going for quality connections. Here are a few ways to find the right people to engage with.
Say you’re a local grocer. You can conduct a Twitter search for keywords that match your top products. You find someone who needs milk you carry. Take the opportunity to respond and share your pricing and deals. Odds are, you have gained a new follower, and more importantly, a new customer.
Another option: Offer incentives or run games. Social Media Examiner shares 4 great (and fun!) ways to build engagement on Facebook. Try them!
Step #15: Timing Posts Just Right
Timing — just like telling a great joke at the best moment — is crucial for clicks and engagement on social media. So study up! Find out the best days and time of day to post for the platforms you are going to focus on. From Huffington Post, this guide to optimal Facebook and Twitter timing is a great place to start right about…now.
Step #16: Responding Consistently
Social media can be a great place to deliver spectacular customer service. So set a time to check all of your platforms and address any customer complaints, requests or rave reviews as soon as possible. For any disgruntled customers, don’t hesitate to message them with an email to take the conversation out of the public sphere. That way, you can take the time to give them the personalized attention each customer deserves. This gesture, and each speedy response, will do wonders for building customer loyalty.
Step #17: Planning to be Consistent
Ready, set, PLAN! You look great, your tone, perfect. Now you need to set goals and plan your level of commitment to posting. And, going a step further, decide how many posts will be to your blogs, industry articles and fun topics. Here are 3 sample plans you could put into motion.
Plan 1 – Minimal Management:
- 1 industry relevant or entertainment post to all platforms weekly
- 1 link to a blog, video, or picture from your site (we like to think of this as “fan bait,” this is rich, engaging content that should tell customers WHY to check you out and share your content with their friends)
Feeling overwhelmed? Think of this as social media light. With just 2 posts a week, you’ll have time to test the waters, practice your tone, and get the hang of finding content. This is a great place to start, but we’d encourage taking your involvement to at least the next level.
Plan 2 – Traffic Flow:
- 2 industry relevant or entertainment posts to all platforms weekly
- 1 link to a blog, video, or picture from your site
- Engage in conversations
- Respond to any incoming messages or comments
With the addition of engagement and customer service, you’ve upgraded your presence from wallflower to party participant. Having trouble with the interaction piece? Try to compartmentalize – set aside 15 minutes each day to search for conversations to join and respond to any comments. Just a little bit of time can make a big difference.
Plan 3 – Life of the Party:
- 3 industry relevant or entertainment posts to all platforms weekly
- 3 links to a blog, video, or picture from your site
- Share seasonally-relevant content
- Run occasional polls, surveys, & games
- Engage in conversations
- Respond to any incoming messages or comments
You’ve finally arrived. Adding engaging touches like seasonal content and games gives your social media profile a vibrant, lively feel. Suddenly YOUR page is who everyone wants to talk to. This does take a lot more work, so you may need some help to achieve this “Life of the Party” status.
Step #18: Consistently Communicating
This step may seem silly, but even the most amazing plans can end up being worthless if not implemented. If you are overwhelmed by this multistep process, it may be time to call in reinforcements.
Short on Resources? Time to Call in Some Help
Feel like you’ll need 3 hands to get everything done? Try one (or both) of these tips to get the job done.
Step #19: Using the Best Tools to Help
There are a lot social media content management tools out there, but Hootsuite is our current fav. Why?
Wide Connection: You can add all of your social media profiles — from Facebook to Google+ — onto your company’s Hootsuite dashboard. This makes it a snap to post updates to all at a time or just one if you need to.
Clean Organization: Hootsuite allows you to organize information into different streams and different tabs. That way you can focus in and “listen” to a certain social media profile as closely as you need to.
Perfect Timing: If you’re still scratching your head over step #15 (timing your posts just right), Hootsuite offers an answer to that, too. According to the Hootsuite blog, their social media auto schedule feature “uses algorithms to determine the best time to post, per network, and schedules your post to take advantage of that timeframe.” Just use that feature to get your posts onto potential clients’ feeds at just the right moment.
Analyze That: Hootsuite includes analytical tools to help you understand what works and what doesn’t.
Step #20: Finding a Manager
And finally, it may be best to give your social media management over to a pro. Don’t feel bad, many companies have a full-time social media expert on staff. Why? It can become a full-time job.
So yes, you know the value of social media. And yes, you may even know what you should do. But you don’t have the time to generate content, find content to share, craft engaging posts, take time to engage, address any questions and more.
Parties are fun, but as a business owner, attending them all the time may not be an option. Finding a manager who can set up your profiles, develop a plan and represent you could be the best investment you make this year.