Social Media for Business Owners

The explosion of social media has changed marketing plans for many companies, large and small. Indeed, you already may be using Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and so on to boost your business. If you’re not up and running on social media, though, there’s no need to panic. Some basic steps can get you off to a good start.

Recognize your resources
In all likelihood, some of your employees are comfortable using social media. Bring them in for conversations when developing your plans. If it’s practical, ask one of your workers to take charge of this area—with appropriate compensation.

Similarly, your children, nieces, or nephews (even your grandchildren) might be able to help you develop a social media strategy. Employing a child can be especially tax effective, if you can shift income to a lower tax bracket. Earned income is not subject to the potentially painful “kiddie tax” limits.

Monitor online comments
Regardless of whether you post company related items on social media, you should be aware of what others are saying about you and your firm. Responding can provide ways to strengthen your operations and your image. Indeed, this step can be combined with the tactic of hiring relatives, mentioned previously.

Example: Linda Morgan manages a chain hotel in a major city. She hires her son Nate, a high school senior, to keep an eye on travel websites that rate hotels. Whenever Nate spots a mention of the hotel, pro or con, he brings it to his mother’s attention. Then Linda and Nate work up an online response to be posted on that website. If action is needed to address an online complaint, Linda can make sure such action is taken and use the response to report it.

If you don’t have a relative or employee who is willing and able to track online comments about your company, social media monitoring services are available.

Concentrate your output
An effective social medial strategy should be proactive as well as reactive. That is, you should be posting original comments or notifying followers of interesting online items relating to your industry. However, you probably should not try to cover too much ground, adding entries on half a dozen social media platforms.

Instead, start with one platform that’s relevant to your customers, prospects, and other business contacts. Your in-house and in-family “experts” may be able to point you in the right direction. Once you pick one channel, focus your efforts on getting to know how it works best for your company. Eventually, you can broaden your online presence to other platforms.

Soften the sales pitch
You certainly can use social media to promote your company’s reputation, announce new products, and highlight key personnel. However, an effective social media plan will include educational and entertaining elements as well.

Go beyond posts about your company to talk about national or global developments of interest to your industry; offer links to articles you’d like to share with followers. Include visuals as well, to attract more interest. Building up your company’s reputation as a thoughtful, responsive resource can be as valuable as informing the world about your products or services.

Perhaps most important, be sure to check over any company-originated content before it is posted on social media by anyone. Give your own messages a second reading, too. Once your company sends out anything that can be construed (or misconstrued) as offensive, the damage might be difficult to undo.

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