Social Media can be a minefield with so many undiscovered options and although I agree there are still unexplored areas, there are some key rules to follow when looking to start and build a social media following for your business or brand.
My name is Josh Barnett and I am the Community Manager for Simply Do Ideas. I also run a part-time clothing company consisting of over 11,000 followers across several social networking platforms and manage my own personal brand which has attracted over 33,000 subscribers on YouTube and a further 3,000 on Twitter and Instagram. Here are 5 of my top tips for getting started with online social media, based from my experiences.
1. Understanding your positioning/purpose
Social media usage for business can vary across the platforms - from Facebook to Instagram, Twitter, Youtube and LinkedIn - and they all have their purposes. For example if you aim to use video to capture the essence of the business then you would likely convey this using YouTube. Before engaging the masses with your content, it is important to first understand the needs and aims of your business for social. Why does your concept/business/idea need to engage in social media and and at what level of interaction are you customers used to from your competitors? Your online social presence should reflect the messaging, positioning and branding that your business aims to create outwardly to potential customers/collaborators.
2. Keep your branding/messaging consistent
Now that you understand your purpose for social, consistency is key. Firstly, ensure that the platforms you use reflect each other, along with your marketing website. For example, at Simply Do Ideas, our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube all have the same handle - @SimplyDoIdeas - this way it does not matter what platform a potential customer/collaborator may find us on, they will instantly recognise it as Simply Do. Although each social platform avenue has a unique purpose, the overall brand story and messaging should be consistent and clear, through creating a cohesive bank of social interactions and contributions.
3. Post, interact and go shopping
When you have the first two steps understood... POST! If you follow your own rules for content and messaging then start posting and, more importantly, interact. Begin to engage with your potential customers, ask and value their opinions and answer any questions in order to engage within the space and make yourself known. Open conversations on platforms such as Twitter are a great method for marketing as it is a very public way to spread positive thoughts and to reach more potential clients.
Go shopping - now I do not mean this literally - but go shopping on these platforms for your competitor analysis and customer engagement. Find your competitors online, understand their individual messaging and branding; what's good about it and what's bad? This will allow you to build your own social presence around your own USP. Begin to rummage through your competitors' followers and posts. The people that engage with and follow this brand are more likely to be interested in what you are offering due to their prior interests. Provided your messaging is clean and your benefits are outlined the potential client will instantly see the value in your brand and begin to engage.
4.Trend and influence
This next point is one that can set your business above the rest and really get people to start paying attention to what you're talking about. By knowing what's trending within your market, you will be able to engage and communicate with the social community on popular topics. This will increase your social footprint and open you up to more potential clients. When communicating on trend it is very important to interact with others in a meaningful way. Many companies will just agree with everything that is out there and therefore never really get noticed. Provided this still aligns to your values as a business, you will be able to influence your audience by having an independent voice that represents what you are trying to say.
Finally after all of this, reward those who are connected with you. This does many things for your social influence. Not only will it keep potential clients happy but it will allow them to feel as though they are part of your brand. By rewarding customers with giveaways and competitions, it will enable you to control what their followers see. For example, if you are trying to sell a product or service, include the offering within the original content of your post. That way, when the client reposts your message (as you might request within the guidelines of such a competition), everyone in their own friends list will now also see your offering.
I have only scratched the surface on all of these tips and they are all based on my own opinions and experience. There are many other ways to increase your social following - such as paid advertisement - but I hope that this post can help those in the very early stages of exploring social media for business.