Getting Started on Social Media in 2014

Studies show that up to 90 percent of small businesses are on social media. That’s not surprising given the popularity and easy access of social channels like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Get started on social media

Are part of that remaining 10 percent, ready to make the leap into social media but not sure where to start? The first step is figuring out where your customers are, then how to get yourself heard. Which social sites give you the most bang for your buck? Let’s break it down.

Your best bet is to first secure a Twitter account and use it to build followers and engage your customers. It’s a snap to add your Twitter handle to marketing materials and pepper it across your website so people know where to find you. Once you get a good groove going, addinghashtags to some of your tweets helps you interact with subsets of customers or call attention to special marketing campaigns.

Visual content and eye-catching images are very popular right now so social channels like PinterestInstagram, and Vine are seeing a huge surge in popularity.  Next to Twitter, these are the most important sites to be on.

Don’t feel compelled to use all three visual content-based sites, just select one that most closely matches your brand’s marketing needs. Pinterest is great for engaging your customers around the larger concepts of your brand, like sharing recipes for a kitchen supply store or pet care tips for pet-centric business. Instagram is ideal for featuring your brand’s inventory while Vine is perfect for clever marketing to millennials.

Facebook has historically been an important social channel for businesses but concerns about ethicsprivacy, and frustrating algorithm changes are steering many businesses away from the site in favor of other social channels. Location-specific businesses like restaurants and retail shops tend to fare much better on Facebook than online-only brands.

That’s not to say you should completely ignore Facebook. By all means, secure a company page and populate it liberally with pictures, company info, and pointers to your website and other social channels. Be sure to update the page with new content every week or so, more if you start to see traction.

Once you’ve established brand on a handful of social media channels, feel free to experiment and see what kinds of content your followers respond to best. There’s no one true way that works for every brand, every customer, every time so don’t be afraid of some trial and error. Once you have a good feel for what kind of content your customers want, it’s time to branch out to the next tier of social media websites.

Lots of companies use Slideshare to post slide decks they’ve put together for conferences, or turn to Vimeo for housing training or how-to videos. For B2B engagement, LinkedIn is the perfect choice and, of course, YouTube is the gold standard for featuring consumer-oriented videos you hope will go viral.

Admittedly, social media can be time-consuming. Forty-three percent of small business owners spend six or more hours per week on social media but a full one-third want to invest less time managing their social channels. If you’re pressed for time and want to hand off the social media baton for an agency to manage, give RealTime Outsource a call. We’ll take care of all your social media needs so you can get back to doing what you love -- managing your business!

Image: Rosaura Ochoa

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