It is almost 2019. Surely every business owner knows how to use social media by now, right? While those of us who work in the business take this for granted, it really isn’t true. Many small business owners still struggle with the basics. If that sounds like you, then today’s post is just what you need.

If you are comfortable with the basics, you might enjoy reading one of our more advanced blog posts on Twitter or Facebook instead.

If you have managed to avoid social media up until now, it is time to get started. Here are the five simple steps you need.

Check Out Your Competition

There is no reason to completely reinvent the wheel. Your social media step one is looking at your competitors. See what they are doing and most importantly, are they getting good interaction? Remember, just because they are posting content, that doesn’t mean anyone is actually paying attention.

Look for signs of engagement such as shares, comments, and likes. If no one is interacting with the company, find another example to study. Make a list of the kind of content which seems to work and, if applicable, tailor it to your needs.

Pick a Platform

You do not need to be everywhere. So pick one platform to start. How do you decide? Think about your target customers and choose based on their interests, not yours. Sure you may love Pinterest, but if your clients are engineers and chemists, you might be better off building out your LinkedIn profile. Conversely, you may enjoy the rapid-fire interaction of Twitter, but if your customers are middle age women, Facebook is where you need to be.

Use this list as a starting point for your decision.

  • Facebook – Has the most monthly active users. Facebook offers a casual environment for all sorts of companies. While it is easier to build a community for a B2C company on Facebook, even B2B companies can have success if they are willing to showcase the personal, lighter side of their business. In addition to reaching potential clients, it is a great way to attract your next employee.
  • YouTube – As the biggest video platform, YouTube is the leading social media marketing tool for businesses that focus on video content. And, behind Google, it is the second largest search engine. This is where people go when they want to know how to do something.
  • Instagram – Instagram is great for sharing rich media, such as images and videos. This platform is well suited for food, fashion, and travel industries.
  • Twitter – Want to know what is happening now? Then head to Twitter. It is the best network for sharing the current news. Conferences and events fair well on this platform. It is also a terrific place to start or join an ongoing conversation about a specific topic.
  • LinkedIn – Business professionals have profiles on LinkedIn. It is the leading B2B social and professional network. In addition to connecting your business to other professionals, LinkedIn drives traffic to B2B blogs and websites.
  • Pinterest – Pinterest has evolved from users sharing recipes and renovating tips. This platform is great for B2C businesses such as retail stores, photographers, jewelers, and restaurants. There is some research that says this is the platform that drives more serious buyers (those willing to spend more money) to shopping sites than Facebook does.

Still not sure?  Dive into our Starter Kit to pick a platform.

Be Active

Social media is not a broadcast medium. It is about interaction, so spend time engaging with others, contributing to conversations in a meaningful way. Likes are nice, but comments, replies, and retweets will help you build your online community faster. Ask questions and don’t be afraid to interact with clients online.

If you do have an unhappy customer, don’t try to solve the problem online. Reach out and invite them to contact you directly. And when you have solved the problem, encourage them to go back to social media and let their community know what you have done.

Have a Plan

Sometimes social media can feel a little random and chaotic. It shouldn’t be. Start the process by creating a content calendar, plan your posts with a mixture of informative, fun, and direct calls to action. Post your content, measure results, and start again.

Looking for more? Find your Social Media Step One with our Social Media Starter Kit