Get Started with Social Media: 4 Beginner Hacks for Small Businesses

Can you imagine your life without Facebook? Or Twitter? Or LinkedIn? If you’re like a lot of people, you probably can’t – and that’s hardly a surprise for anyone. After all, these social media platforms, among many others, revolutionized the way you connect with other people. They’ve changed the way you message your friends, how you share photos of your family and pets – and yes, even how you market your business and find new opportunities.

Sure, social media is great on holidays. It’s a safe bet that just about anyone likes to upload pictures of selfies set against gorgeous landscapes; share funny videos taken while sightseeing; or post comments on hotels and restaurants.

But what about when you’re not on vacation?  

If you’re not utilizing social media to help you promote your small business and reach more target customers, you’re definitely missing out. According to research, social media users reached over 3 billion worldwide in 2018. It’s a whopping number, without a doubt. But then again it just follows logic, given that Internet users hit a little over 4 billion, and there are more than 5 billion people using mobile phones. If you’re not doing anything aside from uploading personal status updates and tweeting your experiences on the latest coffee shops in your city, you’re passing more than a fair share of chances to take your business to the next level.

So how do you exactly get a head start with social media? If you’re looking at it from an entrepreneur’s point of view, the list of things to do can seem daunting that it actually does the opposite – paralyze you from taking action because you’re too confused and overwhelmed. Here are a few tips to help you take those first crucial steps into having a social media strategy for your small business.

  1.    Do your research.

The worst thing that you can do for your business and yourself is to wander around aimlessly for weeks – or even months – because you failed at doing something fundamental to begin with: conducting your research. Do your homework and find out which social media platforms your target customers use the most. Check which channels your competitors use, and what each social media network offers. This will help you determine what platforms best suit your business and what are the most effective ways of reaching your audience.  

Using Twitter, for instance, will help you listen in on trending conversations and snippets of insightful comments from prospect customers and paying clients – all in bite-sized, easy-to-digest information. You can take advantage of this platform to help you improve your customer service because you can find out what works and what doesn’t from the people who are on the receiving end of the products or services you offer.   

  1.    Decide on your strategy.

You don’t start a business without at least a basic plan on what you want to accomplish and how you’re going to pull it off. Implementing social media for your business is pretty much along the same line: you need to know how social media marketing will help you with your overall marketing targets. For example, if you want to generate sales leads, you’ll have to make the most of LinkedIn; give cold emailing a try; and learn basic SEO.

You’ll also have to be flexible and adapt your content depending on the platform you’re publishing in. If your business produces a lot of quality photos, tweak them a little – say with inspirational quotes – and they’re ready to be uploaded in Instagram and Facebook. Interested in doing webinars and tutorials? Post them on your YouTube channel.   

  1.    Aim to create shareable content.

Your goal for the content you produce should be simple and straightforward: it ought to be something that effectively manages to engage your audience. How will you create the kind of content that gets read and shared? Asking yourself a few important questions should help set you off in the right direction. For instance, ask how you can add value for your audience. It doesn’t matter if you’re in taxation advice or running an all-day diner; your content should help your audience accomplish something. Maybe it can help them save time, or manage their finances better, or see the funny side in a serious situation.  

It’s likewise helpful to think of a topic that easily encourages conversation. It can be about a current event or an interesting story. The point is to have content that prompts people to think and answer questions. Don’t be afraid to create content that helps them see things in a different – and hopefully better – perspective.

  1.    Prepare to engage with your audience.  

It’s not called social media for nothing. Creating high-quality content is important, yes, but it doesn’t stop there. On the contrary, that’s just about the beginning. Now you need to get out there and foster a community with your audience. For starters, you can promote your content across your social media channels. A blog post shouldn’t stay in your website. You can share the link on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. And if you see other content that you think will be interesting and useful to your readers, it’s also a good idea to share them too. You can find notable posts on online magazines or trade groups.

If you’ve taken the time and effort to create content that merits a mention from someone, you can also take the time to reply. It’s not only courteous; it also helps you keep the conversation going. And if there’s something that needs to be addressed urgently (for example, a customer complaint), you might want to use private messaging to get in touch with the person directly.

Social media can help you establish your brand; position yourself as an industry expert; connect with prospect clients and regular customers; and get more sales. But all these lofty goals will all seem too far-fetched until you actually get started on it. Do one action at a time and you’ll build your momentum before you know it.

How do you leverage social media for your small business? Share your experiences; we’d love to know.