by Susan Murphy
If you’re a business owner, you’re probably feeling a little bit overwhelmed by all this buzz about social media. The pressure is on to develop a solid, engaging online presence, but the reality is, you’re too busy running your business to figure out where to start, let alone how to manage it all.
If you’re just starting out with social media for your business, here are a few tips to get you over the fear and into the mix.
Realize it will take time.
There are no shortcuts to doing social well, and don’t let anyone tell you anything different. Sure, there are plenty of snake oil salespeople out there who will try to sell you Twitter followers, and take your hard earned money to set up a Facebook page for you, then skip town leaving you with virtual tumbleweeds. Everyone wants everything right now, but the truth is, the only real path to an engaged online presence is the longer one.
My best advice is to approach social media as you would a networking event. If you show up, and put in the effort to get to know people, eventually it will pay off. People don’t often sign contracts at networking events. They don’t sign contracts on Twitter either. Use the online space to develop relationships, find the people you want to do business with, and get to know them. Opportunity will follow. Be patient with it and be consitent with your interactions.
Listen. Then listen some more.
I’ll tell you a secret that all the social media “gurus” know. The single most important thing you can do to get going with social media is listen. Go on Twitter and do some searches in your area of interest (you don’t even need an account). Set up some Google Alerts for keywords of interest to you. It’s like automating Google and it’s a HUGE time saver. Search for and subscribe to blogs and industry news in Google Reader, and have new information delivered to you automatically, so you don’t have to go out and search for it. Turn the Web into your online newspaper. Check in daily and skim through to find the latest news. Click on profiles of people you find interesting on Twitter, and follow them. Give it just 15 minutes every day for one month, and I bet after that month you will find people and conversations you never even knew existed.
A lot of people think that being on social media means you need to be continuously checking Facebook and Twitter 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Want another secret of the pros? Use notifications for as many things as you can. There are a few options here. The thing most of us have access to is email, and it’s the easiest. In the settings on Twitter, you can set it so that you get notified via email when someone @mentions you, retweets you, favorites your post, and so on. On Facebook, you can be notified when someone likes your page, comments, likes a post, etc. On your blog, you can be notified by email when someone leaves a comment.
If you have a smart phone, use an app like Hootsuite to be notified the minute someone replies, retweets, favorites, or follows. Use the Facebook app to be notifed of Facebook interactions.
Once you have notifications set up, you are free to do other things besides wait for someone to contact you. The notifications do the hard work of listening in on the channels when you’re not there. And you’ll know the instant someone reaches out, and then you can respond.
I’d be lying if I said social media doesn’t take much time. There are efficiences, to be sure, but in the end, the time you do spend can yield a good return, if it’s done well. Be patient, persevere, and have fun with it. You will find the ways to fit it into your busy schedule.
Want to know more about how Jester Creative can help you with your social media plans? Contact Us.