Jumping into Social Media Feet First
By Jim Baumer, JimBaumerExperience.com
For businesses dipping their toe into the water of social media, I generally recommend starting with a couple of platforms out of the gate.
Whether you're a fan of Facebook, or not, know that it is the most social of the social media platforms. Because we use it with family and friends, and a good deal of the traffic is personal (some of it, painfully so), some business owners shy away from using it in a professional or business setting. Don't turn your back on Facebook just because your Aunt Millie posts a daily picture of one of her 12 cats. There are many really positive ways you can promote your product or service using strategic updates to Facebook.
Outline a Policy
Before we go any further, detailing specifics about platforms and even strategy; if you are going to effectively use and manage social media and networking at your company, you'll need to put some guidelines for proper usage in place as soon as possible, develop a social media policy that details all the elements of social networking at your company or organization, including the legal aspects of usage. You have policies and protocols for most other aspects of conducting your business, social media and networking requires the same attention.
Social media usage and networking should reflect the goals and values of your company. Spend some time clarifying what it is that you want to achieve by setting up a Facebook account, or deciding you want to start tweeting on Twitter.
Consider the following as important first steps to putting together an effective social media strategy:
- Create a Google Account and set up Google Alerts (to track mentions of your company)
- Develop a set of metrics to measure results
- Save registration information like usernames and passwords in a secure place
- Develop a square version of your logo for usage on social media sites
- Learn some basic HTML
- Experiment with various social media dashboards
- Develop some simple, but clear guidelines and a basic policy on usage
- Find out what similar-sized companies are doing successfully with their social networking; model what they're doing
In addition to Facebook, I think Twitter is a valuable social media tool that often is under-utilized. Twitter can serve as an effective news aggregator. It also allows you to show a human side of your business operations.
Let me throw in a caveat here; learn to reciprocate (more to come on this in a future article) when using social media. Just like running off at the mouth about yourself is annoying in-person, always talking about yourself, your product, or the benefits of doing business with you is just as annoying and will cause people to avoid your social media sites.
YouTube is a great way to share videos about things pertinent to your business or industry. By posting fresh video content, either ones you've developed, or videos related to your products or services, you're providing information to your customers that can be cross-pollinated across other platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
Adopting social media isn't easy, it's not a "silver bullet" especially if you have deep-rooted marketing issues. It also takes time to do it right.
Next month, I'll walk you through a step-by-step process on how to implement Facebook, Twitter, and a YouTube channel for your business, as well as what makes for a good social media manager, whether you already have that person in-house, or possibly going outside your fold for the right fit.
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Jim Baumer is a workforce and career consultant with more than 10 years of experience in workforce development. In addition, he's an entrepreneur, an engaging speaker, a writer, as well as an independent publisher with three books in print and new ones on the way. Jim posts additional content at his blog.