Getting Started on Social Media: How do you choose where to start?Anita Kirkbride
We are over a decade in to the revolution that is social media and yet, many small businesses are still waiting out the “fad”. I’ve heard every excuse from lack of time to lack of understanding, from distaste to distrust, but in most cases the underlying issue is “comfort zone”. Social media is a radical shift from traditional advertising. Today’s consumers are looking for ways to build relationships with you and your business, to get to know your business values before they come knocking on your door. Social media provides all this and more.
Even if you’re still hanging out in your comfort zone, when was the last time you made a major purchasing decision without doing some research? Customers are going online for all of this and no matter what your business, they expect you to be somewhere online.
If you don’t want your comfort zone to become your coffin, here are some tips on getting started:
Find your customers online
First, figure out on which network(s) your ideal customers are already spending time. With upwards of 76% of the connected world on social media, chances are very good your customers are already there somewhere! To find out where your customers are you can hire a market researcher, Google the latest network demographics, or simply ask your customers. If you’re a little more adventurous, you can even set up a fake advertisement in Facebook, filter by your ideal demographics, and Facebook will tell you exactly how many people are within your reach!
Decide what type of content you can provide
Consumers are inundated with “marketing messages” hundreds of times each day on social media. If you want to truly stand out, you need to make your content useful. Provide fans with something they cannot find anywhere else. Then decide what format your content will take: video, livestream, photos, graphics, articles, infographs, etc. If you can’t write to save your life, don’t start with a blog. If your photos are always dark and blurry, don’t start with photos. Each network has a preference for a certain type of content. Figure out which network(s) work best for the type of content you can produce.
Prioritize your efforts
Perhaps your research determined your ideal clients use five networks regularly. There is no need to jump in to all five from the beginning. If social media doesn’t come naturally to you, choose the platform that marries your ideal customers’ preferences and your content type and start there. Once you’ve got that network underway you can consider adding a second one.
Once you’ve decided where to begin, don’t forget to have fun with it! Social media is less formal than other forms of marketing, so allow your personality to shine through. If you’re still hyperventilating at the thought of joining in, remind yourself that social media is just a tool for building relationships, and like any other tool, practice builds comfort.