Explaining social media to someone my mom’s age (she would kill me if I actually divulged her age on the Internet for millions of people to see) is really difficult. I grew up right when Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest were born, so I have experienced the networks from the very beginning. Facebook wouldn’t let adults play on the site when it was created, so they were already at a disadvantage and Twitter just seemed like too weird of a concept for the older crowd. But now, more and more adults need to know how to use and utilize social media for their businesses and it’s my generation who needs to teach them how.
It can be scary and intimidating because the networks are always changing, but here are some social media basics to make things manageable.
Baby Boomers are actually more active on Facebook than Gen X and Millenials if you can believe it. Ever since Facebook opened up to everyone (no longer exclusive to just college kids, those were the days, am I right?) it has become a social network for an older generation. It’s easy for them to connect with their friends from way back when, post pictures of their grand-kids, stalk their own kids and sprinkle inspirational quotes all over their newsfeed. That’s great for your personal Facebook page, but not for your business. Facebook has made it very difficult to get content seen on the site for free, so when you’re not posting links to blog posts or pages on your company’s website, share some pictures of employees around the office or a company outing to drive traffic. It doesn’t have to be all business, all the time. Use our Facebook page as an example of mixing business with pleasure, and by pleasure I mean silly cat photos.
I love Twitter (insert shameless plug, follow me at @AnnefromIndy and Roundpeg at @roundpeg). But trying to explain Twitter to my parents is like trying to explain astrophysics to a toddler. They don’t get it. My mom thought for the longest time that Twitter was created specifically for celebrities. Personal Twitter accounts and business Twitter accounts are two horses of very different colors. Your business should have a Twitter account, no question, but I always hear about how small business owners don’t have time to manage it because they are dealing with more important issues. That’s fine, but I’m not letting you off the hook that easily. Your customers are most likely on Twitter and they are going to be talking about your business whether they’re saying good things or bad things. You need to be on the network to respond and share cool things about your company with your customers in real time.
I don’t know how many times I need to beat this social media network like a dead horse, but not everyone belongs on Pinterest. Pinterest works for various companies, but not all of them. It’s not just a place to plan your wedding or your next vacation. Some businesses really flourish on the site. Our clients in the food and home improvement industries get great traffic from Pinterest. However, engineering businesses and construction companies have no business playing on Pinterest. It’s just not your market, so put your effort into another social network.
EVERY BUSINESS MUST BE ON LINKEDIN. I literally just screamed that. I’m not kidding though. This is a social network created specifically for businesses and making business connections. Why the hell wouldn’t your company be on the site? Well, some people still think LinkedIn is just for individuals who are seeking employment, but it has evolved from that. As an experienced professional, you have 20 – 30 years of professional contacts. Linkedin gives you a chance to reconnect professionally and perhaps find a way to work on a new project with an old coworker.
In addition to your personal profile your company should have a robust LinkedIn company page because it allows you to become a thought leader in your industry. Share links to blog posts about new products, interesting case studies or job openings you have in your company to the page. Use showcase pages to show off your best work.
Don’t let the thought of managing multiple social media accounts overwhelm you. Carve out an hour during your day to update your pages and that’s it. It will only be as hard or as easy as you make it. Now that I have given you the run down on the important social media networks for your business, go forth and prosper.