Businesses who are not on social media may find getting started a bit intimidating. With so many options in social media and millions of users, it’s hard for a business to know where to start. Here are some tips, advice, and trends to consider when jumping into marketing on social media.

Goals

You had goals when starting your business. So make some goals for social media. Are you looking to increase sales? Do you want to improve customer service? Knowing your goals can lead to a successful social media marketing plan.

Audience

Knowing your audience is key to choosing the right platform and content. Older audience members tend to stick with social media platforms they know whereas teens like to try newer ones. For example, Facebook is great for targeting the 40+ crowd, whereas Instagram and Snapchat hit the under 25 market. Twitter falls somewhere in between. Keep up with social media trends as they change over time. Facebook had a younger crowd ten years ago, but as parents and grandparents joined, younger users bailed.

Platform

When choosing a platform, keep in mind your audience, but also your type of business. If you are a restaurant, you may consider Facebook to update menus, promote specials, and allow people to review your business. Own a photography studio? Then Instagram is a great way to display your talent. Do your research. Check out similar companies and see what seems to work for them and what will work for you.

Resources

How much time and money can you put toward social media? Who will have access to the accounts, create the content, and respond to customers? Are you going to have someone watch the account 24/7? Not everyone can monitor social media all day, so you need to set reasonable expectations for yourself and your business. Also keep in mind that once you put your business on social media you will need to keep your accounts updated and relevant on a regular basis.

Socialize

To keep updated and relevant, you need to socialize. A social media account is not just a reflection of your website; it is an opportunity to interact with your customers. With Twitter, there are ways to search every time your business is mentioned. Without being a stalker, you can interact with those talking about you. On any platform you can congratulate the local football team, thank community volunteers, talk about the weather – anything you would say to break the ice with someone at a party you can do on social media to encourage conversation.

Ambassadors

Find your ambassadors and follow them on social media. These are your tried and true customers who know your brand and love your business. They will come to your rescue when there is a bad review or someone has a bad experience with your company. Social media is self-policed. You will find that your ambassadors will be quick to answer negativity on social media before you even get a chance to see it.

Some Dos and Don’ts

Don’t Use Shortcuts

There are programs that will take what you post on Twitter and post it automatically to Facebook and vice versa. It may seem like a time saver, but it is lazy. In addition, these shortcuts can backfire. There was a law enforcement agency who used such a tool to post from Facebook to Twitter. The tool shortened the word “assistant” to fit Twitter’s word limit by only showing the first three letters. Stay in control of your content. Also, tailor your content to the platform. People who follow you on multiple platforms should not see the same content on each.

Do Use a Professional

If you do not have the talent for writing, graphic design, or photography, then hire someone or find an employee with that talent. Using your phone to quickly snap a picture of your merchandise may seem easy, but a poorly shot photo could make your stock look uninviting.

Do Offer Quality Over Quantity

Posting multiple times per day with content that is not engaging seems desperate. There is so much noise on social media that a company posting just to post is one more thing to ignore. Make your content attention grabbing and worth a follow.

Do Reward

Use social media to engage with your customers. Offer freebies for reviews. If they check in to your business with social media, have them show you and give them a coupon. It makes the customer feel exclusive because not everyone who walks through the door gets something, and it can gain you more followers if people think they have a chance to save money.

It is not too late to join social media to market your business. As with your business, come up with goals and a game plan to ensure success.