Do the words “social media” give you a weak feeling in your stomach? Does it make you want to pull your hair out and run the other way? You are not alone. Business owners and their staff have so much to do and making time for one more thing seems impossible. Additionally, not only do you need to find time to work with social media, you have to LEARN what to do. How in the world are you going to have time for that? And where do you begin?
Think of it this way: Social media is not going away and anything that increases sales to your business is worth not running away from. Here are some ideas to help you feel more comfortable with social media. Or, if you are already using social media but are confused about its effectiveness, this information may help you get organized so that you can see results.
Why should you believe that sales CAN be increased through social media? Because it’s what I do; it is my daily business. I know it works because I have seen business sales actually increase due to their use of social media. And once it’s successful, business owners would never dream of not using this technology to increase their sales.
It all comes down to creating a procedure or schedule that works for the owner and the business. The social media work can be done by the owner or staff, however, with increased sales comes increased business, and many owners prefer to turn the job over to someone else outside of the business – someone who does this on a daily basis. The information here will help you make an informed decision about whether or not you should handle it on your own or turn it over to someone else.
Regarding the use of social media, there are several key points to keep in mind:
1. Your business should have accounts in various social media.
No, Facebook is not just used for play and gossip. It is a vital business tool. A personal account should be created first, revealing only as much as you are comfortable revealing about yourself; then a business account should be created which will be linked to your personal account. More than one business account can be created and attached to your personal account. You will always log into your personal account and from there switch to each account to post.
LinkedIn has many uses for businesses. It’s also a great place to post blogs that will get noticed by business professionals.
Remember that Google is “King” and GooglePlus is a Google product. Many times, even if your website does not appear high up in the Google search engine listings, one of your posts may be found on the first page. Therefore, when there is a lot of competition in your particular industry and getting on Page 1 of the search engine rankings is difficult, Google may list one of your posts for a while, bringing people directly to your site.
Twitter is a challenge because it only allows 140 characters in a post, and if you post a photo with it, it allows even less. It is time-consuming to try to scale down your great posting, but if it’s a good post and someone is interested in it, it can be retweeted and travel further than just to your particular followers.
Pinterest is a fun and somewhat addicting website. There are so many ideas on any topic. It is sometimes used as a search engine to look for places to visit, things to buy, etc. Just use the search box and there’s no end to what you may find. Opening an account and establishing boards with your products and interests will increase knowledge about your business. And that’s what it’s all about.
Instagram is popular among young people. It requires being on location and taking and uploading photos, use hashtags and saying a few words about your post. It is only usable on a mobile device. Instagram is becoming popular and may become a useful tool for your business.
If you have videos, it’s best to open up a YouTube Channel for your business and post your videos there. This media is also being used as a search engine, so you want your business to at least have a presence on the site.
There are other sites, of course, but I find these are the best ones to consider.
2. The number of “friends”, “likes”, “followers” must continually be increased.
I have set up social media accounts for businesses that began with one follower. From there, contacts were downloaded from employees, friends, family, etc. In a short amount of time, all of the social media accounts had followers, and that number continues to increase as time goes by. Various social media accounts get friends at different rates, but patience and believing in what you are doing will bring you followers. Increasing the number of followers is a never-ending job, but it does get easier as people find you on their own.
3. As much as possible, posts should lead the reader back to the website through appropriate links.
This can be done by two methods – a “soft” sell and a “hard” sell. Be careful not to post too many “hard” sells. No one wants to feel badgered once they choose to follow someone.
Soft sell: This would include posting about interesting and fun things, not all of which may relate directly to your business, such as area events. You will want to peak your followers’ interest so that they WANT to come to your social media page often.
Hard sell: Some of your posts should tell what you have at your business and if it sounds like you’re selling them something, that’s fine. Always put a link to the appropriate page on your website or a blog about what you’re selling.
4. Post about fun and interesting things that provide information, even if it has nothing to do with your business.
The purpose of these types of posts is to keep your followers coming back to your site (and not unfriending you) because they find your posts interesting. Examples of these types of posts would be about festivals and events in your area, the history of your town, what your area is known for (food, art & craft shows, etc.). Always try to find a link to a website (not your own) that goes along with what you’re posting about. Linking to an article written by someone else is an excellent post as long as you give credit to the author of the post.
5. How often should you post?
I have developed my own posting procedure for the businesses I post for, depending on their budget and their needs. On the day that I post, I create a unique one, adding links, hashtags, etc. as necessary. I copy it and post it in each account. I adjust the hashtags, add photos, and make sure the links work. I use the personal Facebook page and personal GooglePlus page as well as the business page to post for the business. I believe if a business owner wants an account to play on (which is usually Facebook), they should open up one that is completely separate from their business. And remember to stay away from political statements, etc. because people will find your personal account and your views may harm your business.
I keep a spreadsheet of what I post each day and sometimes, usually after a year or more, I go back and re-write an earlier post.
6. Use photos in your posts
Photos will catch your reader’s attention before the written words do, so use interesting, good quality photos. It’s not necessary to always use professional photos, though if you’re showing what your business looks like, it’s best to do that when possible. Otherwise, a photo from your phone or camera is fine. If you use someone else’s photos, be sure to obtain permission.
The ultimate purpose of a business using social media is to bring people to your website so that they will purchase your product. If used correctly, efficiently and persistently, it can be a vital component to increasing sales.