You’ve heard of the benefits of using social media to market your business, but how do you execute an effective strategy that doesn’t require you to be a web guru—or consume your time? Here’s the lowdown on how to support your business with social media effectively, and strategically.
Facebook. Creating a Facebook page for your business, and building a fan following by suggesting that email contacts and existing Facebook “friends” like your page is the first start to a business presence on Facebook. Additionally, you should direct your website visitors to your businesses’ Facebook page with the “official” Facebook button, to build traffic to your page. With the fans you’ve secured, you next job is to stimulate your audience to “like,” comment on, and share your posts with others. The more fans interact with your page, the more you’ll show up in their newsfeeds, and in those of their friends via shares. Give your fans a reason to respond: Ask questions, offer “fan only” promotions, contest, and sweepstakes, and post images and ideas that strike an emotional chord. According to Facebook user engagement research by Buddy Media, posting between 8 p.m. and 7a.m., will increase the likelihood of“ shares,” too. To schedule posts automatically, select the clock icon to the left, when you’re in the status update tool.
Twitter. Unlike Facebook, Twitter is public information, but you should add your Twitter account to your businesses’ website, to gain followers. Though Twitter provides space 140 character updates, limit yours to 120 characters so others can easily retweet your message. Use bitly to bookmark and shorten Tweets you want to share. To market your business on Twitter, become familiar with its basic functionalities: Hashtags (# followed by a word or phrase), and @ symbols. Twitter hashtags categorize information to help users find information relating to a specific topic, and to connect to users with similar interests. They’re also a great way of networking with other businesses, and their followers. Unless you are specifically trying to promote a contest, sweepstakes or trend for your business (a great way to engage users on Twitter), keep hashtags to the point, and general. The @ symbol is used to direct messages on Twitter-- but placement is key. If you want to broadcast a Tweet to a specific person, place an @ followed by their username in the front of your message; it will be seen only by people who follow both of you. To broadcast to the “Twitterverse” including a specific person, place the @ username anywhere BUT the front of the message. If you want to retweet a message, use RT@ followed by the orginator’s username. Install TweetDeck to your desktop or smartphone to organize Twitter activity, and automate Tweets.
Pinterest. The more interesting your “pin” (image) is on Pinterest, a virtual pinboard, the greater your odds of reaching the 24 million unique Pinterest users who might “like” or “repin” your pin to their own boards. Such sharing is the key to building your “pin” exposure on Pinterest. Focus your pin on interesting and appealing images of products, ideas and tips that are natural extensions of what your business is about. Pinterest images should ultimately link back to the original source (which is your site, if you originated the pin), but you can also reference your site link in the pin description to ensure you get the credit you deserve. To market products you sell on Pinterest, type a $ symbol followed by the number amount in the description.
Stephanie Taylor Christensen is a former financial services marketer turned stay at home working mom, yoga instructor and freelance writer covering personal finance, small business,consumer issues, work-life balance and health/wellness topics for ForbesWoman, Minyanville , SheKnows , Mint , Intuit Small Business, Investopedia and several other online properties. She is also the founder of Wellness On Less and Om for Mom prenatal yoga. Stephanie wrote this feature article exclusively for Debbie May.com (www.DebbieMay.com), an organization dedicated to helping small businesses succeed.