Social media are so pervasive that it almost goes without saying that participating on social media is almost essential. You should consider social media as part of your web or “cloud” presence. In this article we will look at just three of the social media sites, but the thoughts presented apply to the others as well.
You very likely have a personal presence in social media already. For your business you should not use these personal accounts. Mixing business with friends and family is neither safe nor does it project a professional image. So there is some work to be done for your business social media sites.
There are a number of good reasons for setting up social media sites for your business. Just a few of them:
►It is almost expected by clients and customers.
► It offers an easy and free way to push information to customers.
► It locks up your business name for your own use.
For managing much of your online presence you need an email account. To set up a business presence on Facebook and Google+ you need a personal account, for most other activities you need an account that is for your business management presence. Your next step should be to set up a business email account.
Business Email Account
A business email account is not only needed to manage sites, it is also an opportunity to tie up your business name. Consider setting up email accounts at Outlook (Microsoft), Yahoo, and Gmail using your business name. Your business name, especially if you are using your own name, might not be available, but it might be when followed by a word describing your business, like “mynamegallery”, keep checking until you find an email name that suits you.
On Twitter, accounts for business and personal use are totally separate. So you can easily set up your business account while also keeping your personal Twitter account. The limit of 140 characters for a “tweet” is well known, however you can also add a photo or other image as well as a link to your main site or some other Internet page. Site links cost 23 characters, regardless of actual length.
You should add a header photo and a profile photo to make the site look professional.
Who will see your tweets? Your tweet will be seen by those who “Follow” you and those who happen to be searching for a tag that you included in a tweet. Tweeting for your business is a delicate art. A tweet is seen for just a short time, so to get attention you need to tweet often. Tweet too often and you may annoy your followers and they will “unfollow” you. You should tweet when you have something to “sing” about, a new piece you are offering, a special, or when you are announcing some event. Follow some large, established businesses to see how they handle their tweeting. Tweeting a few times a week is probably a good frequency for a small business.
For a Facebook business presence you need a personal account first. From your personal account you then set up a page. When setting up a page, Facebook offers six categories. A page differs in some details from a personal account, but the basic elements are the same. A good looking site with a header image and a profile photo is essential to put up a professional image.
As with Twitter, your messages are seen by those who have clicked “Like” on your page.
Facebook posts can be fairly lengthy, but brevity here is important as well. Photos and links are very helpful in getting your message seen and followed. Facebook delivers messages according to their own rules. To be seen you must post often. Annoying your followers with too frequent posts will backfire. Getting it just right means posting often enough to keep your followers informed and interested. For many small businesses that is maybe a couple of times a week.
Google+ is similar to Facebook in requiring a personal account to set up a business page. A Google account is also a Gmail account, so this is a package deal. The way a page works is also quite similar to a Facebook page. To be seen on Google+ your page needs to be “Followed” by your friends.
Putting it all together
Many other social media sites compete for attention, you may wish participate on several others. Getting your presence set up can take quite a bit of time. There are many services that are eager to help, including CloudLadder, of course. With experience and a long list of “to-dos” these services can help you to get the job done much more quickly than you can weave your way on your own.
Once your social media sites are up you need to continue to post to them on a regular basis to stay in your followers’ awareness. This activity, too, can be outsourced, however for a small business it will be almost as time-consuming as doing it oneself. After all, you need to get your messages, specials, notices communicated first to your contractor before that service can prepare the posts. Consider it part of your marketing effort and plan to spend an hour or so per week to do a creditable job.
You will find that Facebook, Twitter and the others will keep trying to sell you advertising to expand your social media reach. There are other “services” that will try to sell you followers. Just keep in mind that having tons of exposure and lots of followers is not the same as having sales. Social media can help your business, your primary website, however, will be your main “face”. That part of site setup is discussed in another article.