• Michael Bird

The Beginner's Guide to Social Media


The Beginner's Guide to Social Media

For many small business owners, social media marketing is at the bottom of their priority list. With so many other to-dos and concerns - hiring the right staff, meeting customer satisfaction - it may seem as though social media marketing will just have to wait.

The truth is that you should get started on your social media marketing the minute you open your business doors. So many great opportunities await your business in the social media community, and if you can tap into that community, you may see a distinct increase in the public's awareness of your business. You will also have the opportunity to encourage customer brand loyalty and generate a substantial amount of leads.

Best of all, social media accounts are free, and you will only pay if you decide to use the marketing tools certain social media platforms provide. Because small businesses are usually strapped for cash, this can be a great, free alternative marketing plan to get you started.

These benefits might sound too good to be true, but if your business is active on social media, you too can reap the benefits. Need some help getting started? Here is the essential beginner's guide to social media for small businesses.

Research your audience

Before you begin creating accounts with different platforms, you first need to do some research. All platforms attract certain audiences, and you will be wasting your time if you use a social media platform that your audience does not frequent.

It is important to know that social media is all about creating authentic connections and conversations with consumers. You are not talking at them, as you would in a television commercial; you are talking with them. Therefore, you need to know who your audience is so you know how to talk with them.

Create a sketch of your average customer and define their demographics - age, gender, location, interests, average income - to help you see your customer in a new light. Write down all the details you can and look for images online that represent your average consumer or audience member. This will help you stay focused and targeted as you get going. If your business serves multiple audiences in different ways, create sketches of each audience type.

Now go back through each audience and craft your message from your business to them. What problems will your business help them solve or what need does your business fulfill? Once you have a clear message, think about marketing messages that you might use to make your point clearer or entice your audience to learn more about you.

Choose a platform

Now that you know who your audience is, what they need from you and the messages you plan to send to them, it is time to start thinking about which social media platforms you want to conquer.

Here is a breakdown of some of the most popular social media sites and which demographics frequent them. Remember, you do not have to have accounts on all of the following platforms. If you have little time for marketing, choose two to focus on. If your business is a little more established, you may consider more.

Facebook

Perhaps the most well known and popular site, Facebook is often considered the founding father of social media. The site has over 728 million users every day and 874 mobile users, so you can bet that your followers will be involved.

Facebook users create profiles and then post status updates or messages to their followers, along with videos, photos and articles from around the web. They can also upload their own content if they wish. Businesses can also create profiles, attract fans and post marketing messages or deals and related content.

Facebook tends to attract nearly every demographic, which is especially great if you want to attract older, less tech-savvy consumers. For most businesses, having a Facebook account is a must.