Illustration by Gerardo Obieta
Illustration by Gerardo Obieta

Is your business on social media? Even though social has been around for years, a lot of businesses find it overwhelming, intimidating, and confusing to get started.

The good news is that it’s easy to add social media to your marketing toolbox. There are tons of  resources out there to help you get started, and more are being posted all the time. In fact, just as I was finishing up this post, I received Constant Contact’s latest blog post, “50 Expert Tips for Getting Started on Social Media.” (It’s worth a read – number 11 is one to frame!)

Clearly, social media is a timely topic. Now it’s time for you to get started. 

1. Pick One Social Media Site to Start

In a perfect world, you’d be active on every social network. To start out, though, try choosing one network and focusing your attention there first. Consider one of the big five: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, or Pinterest.

How to choose? Generally, most businesses can benefit from having a Facebook or Twitter presence. LinkedIn and Google+ are good in B2B, software/technical, and financial markets. If your product is visual – think food, home decor, and fashion markets – Pinterest could be great for you.

2. Make a Plan

It’s easy to spend hours each day building your social media presence – but you probably can’t afford to dedicate that much time. Instead, create a time budget that limits your social media time to a daily or weekly chunk that fits into your schedule.

Next, decide who in your organization will be responsible for curating content, posting to the social media network(s), monitoring comments, and reporting on social media metrics . Social media is not a set-it-and-forget-it enterprise – unless, of course, you’re using marketing automation and/or content syndication tools (more on that in a bit).

3. Define Your Social Media Goals and Objectives

What do you want to accomplish with social media? Generating leads, establishing yourself as an expert in your industry, or being top-of-mind the next time your customer needs to make a purchase? Make sure you are clear on your goals – and check your progress against them to stay on the right track.

4. Consider Automating Your Social Media Efforts

One of the biggest challenges with social media is time management. Tools like Zift can help you manage your social media time more effectively by allowing you to auto-post syndicated content, schedule posts across multiple dates and channels, and even capture social media activity for automatic re-posting.

While you don’t want to over-automate, the right tools can make the process of using social media much more efficient.

5. Post Often – and Well

How often should you post? That depends on your industry, your social network, and your audience. The key is to find the sweet spot between being informative, entertaining, and delightful – and being flat-out annoying.

While there’s no set, solid answer or formula, you might consider starting with these guidelines and adjusting as necessary:

  • Post to Twitter 1-5 times a day.
  • Post to Facebook 5-10 times per week.
  • Post to LinkedIn once per business day.

Now that you’ve got a handle on when to post, you’ll need to figure out what to post. The possibilities are endless! Just be sure to post content that adds value to your community – content that makes your followers think, laugh, solve a problem, or engage with you.  Be interesting, be knowledgeable, and find a balance between promoting your product and being human. Remember – not all of your customers’ needs relate to a purchase!

6. Measure Your Success

It’s true – social media ROI is notoriously difficult to measure. After all, what’s the dollar value of a comment, like, or retweet?

So how do you really measure social media marketing success?  There are three key metrics to monitor: reach, engagement, and conversion. You should know:

  • Reach: How many people did you impact with your post? (Number of followers / page likes)
  • Engagement: How many people interacted with your post? (Clicks on social media links, shares, comments, retweets)
  • Conversion: How many people took action because of your post? (Registrations for content downloads, webinar registrations, lead gen form completions, online sales)

These metrics are readily available in all of the major social media platforms as well as your social media dashboard or automation tool.

Be patient (social media success takes time), provide value, and be ready to adapt and you will produce results. Be sure to check back with us once you’ve gotten started – leave a comment below and tell us what’s working for you!