Social Media Basics for Business

A lot of people think social media is a new way of marketing and connecting with people, but the reality is that social media has its’ origins in Compuserve back in 1969, followed by the first email being sent in 1971. Arguably mainstream social media began in 1995 with the launch of the first personal website platform, Geocities. Social media hit a major milestone in 2012 when Facebook achieved one billion users, but the rapid growth of social media into our daily lives has led small business owners to look for ways to utilize this platform to grow their bottom line.

Small town social media for modern day business.

The reality is that social media is merely the digitizing of the way people have been conducting commerce since the 1900’s. As a small town girl from a rural town in Central Washington, social media is technology applied to my one stop sign town where cows outnumber people. LinkedIn is the digital banker, who always knew what business was hiring and what talent was out in the marketplace. Twitter is the conversations that happened each Sunday morning in the pews of our local church about who was doing who and what was happening that the newspaper wasn’t covering. Instagram is the classic yearbook, where who you are and what you are passionate about is captured in snapshots. Facebook is where we all come together and in our town that was the farmers market each Saturday. If you needed fresh picked apples for an apple pie you were buying them at farmers market and your purchases and preferences could be summed up in that one space. When I moved to the big city social media helped me to connect with like minded people and made my world feel a little warmer.

How to use social media for your business.

Rather than giving you case study after case study of how social media is done incorrectly, I am going to assume you’ve seen your old friend from high school who uses their Facebook feed to report to you on every daily activity in excruciatingly painful detail. Since you know when it’s being used wrong, I am going to provide you with the basics of what you need to be should be doing right NOW- in 2015- to maximize all social media platforms for your business.
Set a goal. If you just want everyone to know about you, then set a goal for how large you’d like your audience to be and create initiatives around that. If you are looking for maximum conversions, look to engage with platforms that will offer you trackable conversions from viewer to reservation or purchase. Have a clear goal and make sure you are measuring at least monthly, if not weekly.
Use the same profile and cover images, which should be branded similarly to your website and other creative collateral. Your bios will need to be slightly different to match with each platform’s voice, but they shouldn’t use different verbiage. If you’re a “Customer service focused unlawfirm focused on proactive solutions” on Twitter, you shouldn’t be “Ambulance chasing bottom feeder” on Instagram. Keep your brand messaging consistent and keep your social media handle the same across all platforms to make it easier for your customers to find you on their preferred platform.
It’s tempting to share your Instagram post on Facebook and Twitter. DON’T DO IT. Think of each social media platform as its’ own country. You wouldn’t go to France and expect them to engage with you as enthusiastically in English, would you? The same content can be shared, but it needs to be crafted for each respective platform. On Twitter that means 2-3 hashtags with a compelling headline. On Instagram that means 8-10 hashtags. On Facebook that means one post with one hashtag and 2-3 sentences.
If you aren’t a social media person and you don’t have the budget to engage a team to be present on your behalf: don’t do it. It is better for your brand to not have a presence on social media than for you to have branded accounts that you don’t check on daily. Nothing is worse for a social media savvy consumer than to tweet you a question or share an experience they had at your establishment only to get back silence. It’s the equivalent to a bad customer service experience, so if you are going to be present on social media, choose wisely and be present at least once every 24 hours.
Organic reach is dead. This means that if you expect to throw out a Facebook page and have people naturally find you, it might happen somewhere around 2025. You don’t just want anyone following you anyway, so set a third party advertising spend to target the audience you want to follow you and run ads to promote your twitter account, facebook account, or a particularly compelling post on Instagram.

You can’t argue with the results.

Our digital and social media strategy team is made up of successful entrepreneurs who each share our own story of how using social media helped us to create, grow, and exit businesses in a variety of industries from dog grooming to entertainment management to babysitting. We have success stories from general contractors who are entirely business to business and hair salons who are entirely business to consumer and e-commerce retailers who do business out of their garage. Modern business is only getting more digital and for the entrepreneurs who understand how to create digital lead funnels, provide real time customer service on social media channels, and build engaging audiences on social media platforms, bottom line business growth is explosive.