Today’s guest post is by Muhammad Yasin, a self-proclaimed design/social media geek.   We connected though twitter, and have never actually met, but I enjoy his blog, and was delighted when he responded to my request for a guest post.

Social Media Startup Kit for Small Business

I have been getting a lot of questions from small businesses and entrepreneurs about how to get started with social media without spending a lot of money. There are 27.5 million small businesses in the United States and while many are interested in pursuing a social media agenda, they just don’t have the budget to go all out with a pricey social media consultant and commitments to subscription-based monitoring services. In this blog you will find step-by-step instructions to getting your small business’ social media initiative started completely free of charge. Exciting, right?

Step 1: Squat Your Social Media Accounts

Register your small business name, brand name, and keyword phrases that hold special importance to you. It is not important that you start producing content right away, but you want to grab your accounts before someone else beats you to the punch. Start with these services and expand from there as needed:

● Twitter
● Facebook
● Youtube
● Flikr
● Slideshare
● LinkedIn

Step 2: Indulge In Some Social Media Voyeurism

Before you get your feet wet with creating content and engaging in conversation, it’s a really good idea to see what the sentiment about your brand/industry is. Search your company name, brand names, and custom keywords at the sites below:

● Search.twitter.com
●OpenBook
●Socialmention
●Google.com

Step 3: Set Some Goals

Just like any other business initiative, the planning stages are crucial. Social media is not meant to stand alone. It is a tool that should be integrated into your existing marketing/sales/ networking/SEO efforts. Decide what you want to achieve and start measuring your progress.

Step 4: Jump In the Pool and Start Interacting!

Creating unique, and valuable, content is important. However, you will find that your following, and level of influence, will build much quicker if you participate in conversations that are already taking place. Visit What The Hashtag?! to find a tweetchat (what is a tweetchat?) that is related to your industry or that you find interesting. Remember to connect with your community on a personal level. As in the real world, building relationships will help build your small business bottom line.

Step 5: Inspect What You Expect

This is one of the most important aspects of maintaining a social media campaign. It is easy to get caught up having fun. Set checkpoints to measure your growth and ensure you are aligned with your goals. Measurement tools should be broken up into four categories (Content, Diagnostic, Monitoring, and ROI). There are droves of options for each, but for the sake of brevity, I have included one free tool for each category:

● Content – Create a wordcloud. It is a quick way to ensure that your conversations are keeping in line with your SEO initiatives.
● Diagnostic – Pull a report on your twitter account regularly.
● Monitoring – Use Google Alerts and Google Desktop with RSS Feeds.
● ROI – Use unique links when sharing in social media channels and measure traffic/sales. If you are meeting face to face, ask how they found you.

Following these steps will be enough to get your small business social media initiative running and to start measuring impact. Enjoy yourself out there; good luck!

About Muhamed

In a consulting capacity, Muhammad Yasin has helped small businesses create social-based Sales and Service strategies for over ten years. He lives in Indianapolis where his day job is as a Client Relations Manager in the insurance industry. You can also find him at The Flavor of Muhammad Yasin.