Everyone’s doing it. And when it comes to social media, you should be too. But as a newbie entrepreneur, your plate is already full. How do you navigate the online atmosphere to find out how to best use social media to market your business and which platforms make the most sense? While there’s no one-size-fits-all approach, a few general guidelines will help you find your niche.

1. Start With the Most Popular Sites
The most popular social media websites include LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Account setup on each platform is simple, but you’ll need to customize content for each one. Be blunt about your expertise on LinkedIn and keep it professional. Facebook allows you to be less formal and more conversational. Here you can elicit consumer feedback with polls and giveaways, for example. Since tweets are limited to 140 characters, use Twitter to post links to articles on your blog or concise snippets of information about your company or product.

2. Try Out Other Platforms
Other social media players to consider include Pinterest, Google Plus, and StumbleUpon. However, this list is not all-inclusive as there are plenty of social media sites that cater to a range of interests. Peruse the pages of several of them to see which work best for your business and products. Can you convey information visually by posting pictures of your products? Or is a written description essential? Try multiple platforms to see which gets you the best and most results.

3. Focus on Content
Be creative and focus on your customers’ needs and interests to make your posts compelling. Provide your readers with information they can’t readily find elsewhere if possible, and keep information succinct and to the point. Readers are primarily interested in what your business can do for them and what value they can gain from your posts. If you show them value quickly, they’re more likely to follow you and become customers.

4. Engage Your Followers
Posting on social media is about starting a conversation – whether it’s a conversation between your company and potential consumers or between consumers about your company. Create opportunities for readers to comment and share their opinion, offer giveaways and discounts, and provide information or images they’ll want to share. This is the way to create a buzz around your company.

5. Expand With Caution
It’s essential to post fresh information regularly and to respond to questions and feedback quickly on your various social media platforms. With that in mind, ease into your social media strategy by starting with just a few platforms. What you don’t want is to be overwhelmed by questions and comments such that your other responsibilities become neglected or you can’t respond to consumer feedback. Step, don’t dive, into the vast ocean of social media to determine where and how you want to swim there.

Final Thoughts
Once you’ve established an effective social media strategy or if you’re having trouble doing so, consider bringing on a dedicated professional or industry specialist to handle or help with it. This allows you to focus on the many other facets of your business without the worry of missing out on valuable customers. Just be sure to vet candidates and companies thoroughly – who else do they work for and how are their results.

How is your social media strategy coming along? Leave a comment about your experiences.

About the Author: Ron Stambaugh is an online marketer and writer who shares tips about small business, social media, and money management.

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