Inevitably, at some point, every business owner will come to the realization that they need to be on social media to market their business. The fact of the matter is that, yes, you really do need to present online and social media gives you a platform unlike any other medium. But while you may have realized this, it's actually a lot harder to get started!
Before starting on social media, there are a number of things you want to do first, in order to set yourself up for success. Just jumping in all willy-nilly will not get you where you want to go. And this is what often leads most business owners to claim social media doesn't work.
So, to help you out, I'm outlining the 6 things you should definitely do before you launch your social media accounts.
1. Know Your Target Audience
I don't think I can stress this enough, which is why this is my number one step. You absolutely must know who you are talking to online. And not just who you're talking to - cuz you could talk to anybody - but who you are talking to in order to build your business.
Your target audience is ideally your target customer. The people you want to reach online who will buy from you.
Now, this may be slightly different than your current customer base - if you're looking to expand your audience or reach new people, you may have to change the demographic. Or it might be exactly who your current customer base is. Or you might not have a current customer base because you're just starting out all together - but yo still need to know who you are ideally targeting!
The more you can pinpoint this, the better.
It could be a variety of factors including:
- Age range
- Geographic location
- Income status
- Relationship status
- Career position (or transition)
- Hobbies and interests
- Family status
Or it could be any other range of characteristics. And, it doesn't have to be just one, it could be (and likely is) a combination of multiple factors.
But before you move on, you absolutely must determine who this target audience is.
2. Choose Your Social Media Platforms
When it comes to choosing the right social media platforms to get started on, there are two things to consider. The first is what we just finished looking at - your target audience. And where are they hanging out online?
If your audience is active on LinkedIn and Twitter, then that's where you should start. Not on Pinterest and Instagram!
But, if you're new to social media, it's also important to get started where you feel comfortable. If you know nothing about Twitter but are comfortable on Facebook, then Facebook might be a good place to start and get your footing.
I also recommend you start with only one or two platforms. If you're new to social media, jumping all in on three, four, or even five platforms will overwhelm you and you'll likely drown in the chaos and confusion. Instead, pick one or two platforms, get comfortable with your tactics and strategies, understand your results, and then branch out, adding another platform at a time until you get to where you eventually want to be.
For more help on choosing the right platforms for you, I recommend you check out this previous blog post.
3. Pick Relevant Usernames
Here's the thing, your username is how you are known on social media. When you interact with other people or post on behalf of your business, you are your username. So, please, take the time to pick the right one!
Not to mention, some platforms make it really hard to change it after the fact. And even if it's easy to change on social media, it's not necessarily easy to change it as it relates to everything else (read this post on why that is).
Ok, so what makes a good username? Well, your business name is a good place to start! But, please, stop and look at how it reads as one long word without spaces. If, as one long word, it could easily be pronounced wrong or read incorrectly, consider adding and underscore or a period (dot) to the break up the words. Also, there may be limitations to the number of characters you can use so if your business name is long, you may have to choose a shortened version.
You also need to make sure that the username is actually available on each platform. Yes, believe it or not, someone else may already be using your name of choice. So go check out each platform and see if what you want is already being used. If it's not, great! If it is, again, think about how you can change it by adding characters, removing characters, using an abbreviation, or adding an underscore or dot to break it up.
Finally, you ideally want the same username on every platform - it makes it a lot easier on you and your followers if they know you're always at the same name or handle. So make sure the one you want is available on every platform. If it's only available on a couple platforms, but not others, you might want to look at an alternative again.
4. Know Who Is Managing Your Accounts and How Much Time They Have
Are you managing your social media profiles? Or is someone else in your business going to do it? Knowing this - and letting that person know very clearly - is extremely important! The responsibility that comes with managing business profiles on social media is rather extensive so you want to be clear about that level of expectation and commitment (even if it's you!).
You also need to know how much experience this person has - in various aspects. Does this person understand social media? Do they understand your business? Do they speak your business language (voice, tone, personality)? Do they have experience handling customer service for your business? What marketing experience do they have? How are their social interaction skills?
I know this sounds like a lot to think about, and it is! But it's so darn important!
Even if you are the business owner and you're managing your own social media presence, you still need to think about these situations and how you will handle them.
Beyond all that, you also need to know how much time this person has to devote to social media. If you or they only have 30 minutes a day, that's totally ok! But you need to be realistic about your expectations and responsibilities as to what can be accomplished in 30 minutes a day.
5. Determine Your Purpose for Being on Social Media
Too many people skip this step and I want you to seriously stop and consider this: what do you want to achieve with social media?
What is your purpose for using social media?
If you are only doing it because everyone told you to, that's not good enough. And you won't get results that way. This has to be an active part of your marketing and business strategy. And, as such, you need to know why you're doing it.
It could be that you're looking to grow your brand presence and awareness. Or maybe you want to build your email list. Or you want to expand into new markets or sectors. Or you want to generate revenue. Or maybe it's something else all together. Or it might be more than one of these things. Either way, that's fine! It's what works for you - but you have to define it before you can move forward successfully.
6. Create a Social Media Strategy
While all the other steps were important, they're actually all a part of this step. Because this. Is. The. Most. Important. Step.
If you do not have a strategy, you will fumble and flail your way through social media, convinced that it is hit and miss, confused by others' success, frustrated by your shortcomings, and overwhelmed by random attempts to create quick success based on current trends.
There are so many components that go into an effective social media strategy, beyond the things we've already talked about. Just some of these things include:
- A posting schedule
- A content strategy
- Determining your voice, style, and tone
- Defining how to handle complaints
- Establishing who has which responsibilities and access
- Defining what success looks like to you
- How you'll measure your social media profiles for success
And, honestly, a lot more.
Fortunately for you, I've actually written a whole book on exactly how to create your own social media strategy! It's available on Amazon and you can download it now to get started on your own social media success path.
And now you have my best tips to getting started on social media for your business. I know it seems like a lot, and it is. But it's so important that you take these steps seriously so that when you do launch your social media profiles, you're set up for success and you can build your business with real results.