Getting your business going with Facebook, Twitter and the rest may seem like a big chore, but it need not be. And it is important to do it, even if it does seem daunting. Why? Think of social media is as a conversation. People are already online, on these sites, having conversations about everything imaginable. Would it behoove you to start some of those conversations with your own customers and would-be customers? You bet!
1. Watch: There are scores of social media sites out there, but the big three are Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Each does something a little different
You begin by spending some time on each site and getting a feel for how they work and how you might participate.
2. Set up accounts: Next, create accounts at all three of the big ones. Be thorough and add enough information to make you and / or your business relevant and interesting. On LinkedIn, be sure to add all of your contacts. On Facebook, create a Fan page.
There are many, many others to check out of course. Indeed, if you know of any niche ones that specifically relate to your industry or business, set up shop at those for sure.
3. Choose: While I am suggesting that you cast a wide net generally, especially in the beginning I think it is smart to start small and concentrate on one site in particular. It will take time and effort, especially in the beginning, so concentrating on one social networking site will enable you to master that site and make some connections. After that, take on another site.
4. Get involved: Whatever site you choose, the trick is to immerse yourself in it. If you like LinkedIn, join a group, create some new connections, or add some apps to your homepage. On Twitter, the key is to create useful content that people like. As opposed to the misconception that Twitter users tweet mundane things about their life, the fact is that most small business people tweet articles and posts that are quite interesting.
5. Stick with it: Mastering social media takes time, and getting business results from it takes even more time. Spending an hour a day on it is not uncommon in the beginning, and as you really get into it, that may increase multi-fold. Don’t get discouraged. The trick is to begin to meet and engage people, to become part of the conversation. The more you do that, the more your network will grow, and the more business opportunities you will get.
For example, I recently heard about a woman who started a business and immediately engaged on LinkedIn with people in her industry. Two months later, when she wanted to create a board of advisors, she put out the word to her LinkedIn network and was inundated with offers. Or, on Facebook, what about the diary that asked fans to post videos of their love of their ice cream? The dairy then posted the videos for all to see and enjoy.
Forging connections like that is what social media is all about.