6 Steps To Making Social Media Work For You

Natalia Autenrieth In her professional lives across the United States, Natalia Autenrieth, CPA has audited Fortune 500 clients as part of a Big 4 team, built an accounting department as a controller of a large hospital, and served as a CPA consultant to municipalities. Today, Natalia coaches in the financial industry and writes about business finance, financial technology, and personal money management. Her ghost-written articles have appeared in thought leadership and expert blogs, as well as Kiplinger and Accounting Today. Read more about Natalia and her practice at www.AutenriethAdvantage.com.

6 Steps To Making Social Media Work For You

Chances are, you started your business because you saw a service or product that was needed and stepped in to fill that gap. Whether you are running a bakery, a moving company or a printing shop, you know a lot about the daily details and the in-and-outs of that business.

However, social media probably has you confused.

From glowing stories and reviews online, it seems everyone has a million Facebook and Instagram followers these days. Then there is Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn. Which ones matter? How often should you post? And, finally, where will you find the time to do it?

First, take a deep breath

You do not need to be present on all platforms. In fact, doing so may lead to disastrous results, especially in the beginning. Many business owners take on too many social media outlets, get burned out and conclude that social media just does not work. In reality, a strategic and concentrated effort on one or two platforms is better than a scattered shot at them all.

Learn from the crowd

Being original is important. So is saving time and money. For this “research” phase of the process, it may be best to resort to crowdsourcing. There is no need to re-invent the wheel if you can learn from others!

Locate a handful of successful businesses in and around your local area and study what they do on social media. If they have a Facebook page, how often do they post? Do they offer deals and specials? Which of their Instagram posts got the most traction over the past couple of months? How do they use Twitter?

Take notes but remember that without insight into the financials of the business it’s difficult to know which of the social media platforms are actually generating new or repeat business. You can make an educated guess by looking at a cross-section of businesses and observing which platforms seem to be getting the most attention and upkeep effort.

Build a strategy

“Post any time you have a good idea” does not cut it as a strategy. Between dealing with customers, sorting out personnel issues and negotiating with a new inventory supplier, odds are social media posts will land way low on your priorities list. Some businesses can afford to have a dedicated social media manager. Others must make it work with what they have.

So, strategy is your friend. First, determine the optimal frequency of posts (daily posts for Facebook, 3-5 posts on Instagram, 3-5 Tweets a day – expert advice varies widely, so you will have to do your research, make an educated guess, play the strategy out and tweak as you go).

Next, create a system for getting it done. Will you post in the morning? At lunch? Can you use technology to take one post and automatically share if across your platforms? Social media scheduling tools like Hootsuite can help. Who on your team will be responsible for hitting the “publish” button?

Use what you have

At this point, you are probably wondering “That’s all well and good, but what should I post about?” The best advice is to use what’s in front of you. As a business owner, you have access to a wealth of content ideas. You may not be noticing them because they are an integral part of your daily flow, so this will take some training. Here are a few questions to get you started.

  • What do your customers ask you about?
  • Is there a recent client success story?
  • Do you have a quick tidbit to share that would be helpful to your potential clients?
  • Which parts of your business are your favorite?

As you get accustomed to using social media, you will begin to see your daily life as content inspiration and an opportunity to get closer to your customers.

Get some help

Does this sound overwhelming? The good news is that doing this on your own is not the only way. You might “recruit” customers to write reviews and post pictures. You may also consider hiring a remote part time Social Media Manager who will take care of your posts for you for less than what a full-time employee would cost.

Finally, forget “always be selling”

People don’t join your following on Facebook or Instagram to witness a 24/7 commercial stream. Aim to tell your story, add value, be helpful, entertaining or informative. Sharing special deals and promotions every now and again works, but if your messaging turns into a barrage of ads, you will likely lose your followers.

Above all, remember that social media is just a tool that connects you to your customers. Be there with a constant presence, be helpful and interesting, and monitor your strategy so that you can evolve it with time. Your business will be better for it!