It takes more than a storefront to run a business

Breath life into your brand with social media

Written for SPAN Enterprises

Social media has become the number one way to network personally and professionally. Having a steady online presence opens the door for more business opportunities and prospective partnerships. If you’re not social online on some platform, you are doing a disservice to your business, but the good news is you can get started at anytime.

The most important thing to remember when interacting online is to create a social profile that is authentic and aligns with your vision and goals. You don’t want to look like a robot that just throws up sales ads and pressures people into buying products. That’s not how social media works. You need to humanize your brand by sharing interesting and thoughtful content that reflects your values and interests while creating real relationships with your followers by interacting with them on a regular basis..

Think back to your company’s mission. What does your company stand for? What are you trying to achieve and why should it matter to everyone else? Answer these questions and you have a good start. You want to use the mission statement as a starting block that thrusts you into the development of a humanized version of your business online — sharing important niche and business news, creative ideas, showing appreciation to others in the industry and other industries who are doing things that align with your values, commenting on social commentary that remains inclusive to all potential customers and partnerships, and gently nudging people toward your blog and website.

When you first start networking, it’s easy to get caught up in the hype and want to be everywhere at once and read and share all the things; however, that can eat up all your time and take away from other more pressing parts of your business. Remember, social media ROI is a long term commitment.

Start out slow with one social platform —Facebook and Twitter are the top social media sites for business. Create an account and take time deciding how to describe your business. A shortened version of your business statement that shows personality is ideal for your social media profile description. This shows your company’s personality and continues to align with your core values — the foundation of authenticity.

Share a few times a day and really sit back and pay attention to what others are doing.

Notice when others are sharing, when people engage more and what works the best. Make an effort to log in regularly and set limits to social media perusing (10-15 mins at a time), so you don’t get lost in information land. Check out your competitors or the top dogs in your industry and see how they do it. What makes them stand out online.

Next, find a social media management tool that provides feedback on what you are sharing. Some great options are Hootsuite and Agorapulse. These tools allow you to curate your communications across several social media platforms as well as generate reports on what you post to rate your social success.

Once you’ve built a robust group of followers and curated content that builds up your business mission, then you can start developing social media campaigns to push products and topics of interest for your business. When developing a campaign, you want to have a clear plan of action.

Ask yourself the following questions:

What am I trying to accomplish?

How can I measure campaign success?

Who is my target audience?

How can I best interact with them?

After uncovering all of these answers, you should be able to start developing an assortment of posts that align with the campaign. The assortment of posts should include active and passive ads, curated content from other sites, company blogs, and organic social interactions.

When running social campaigns, your goal is to drive traffic to your website.

Be sure your website is updated, error-free and user friendly. It’s also crucial that it aligns with your mission statement and the brand image portrayed on social media. Someone should be able to interact with your brand on your website, social media and in your store and get the same feeling. You want people to be comfortable with who you are and what you identify as. If you confuse them with different styles and approaches, they will stray. Keep it simple.

A great tool for checking how traffic performs on your website is Google Analytics. This is the age of Google and everything that works well online goes through Google. Google Analytics is a tool that will help you stalk viewers on your site. (Not in a creepy way but a business smart way!) It reports on what brought them to you (social media posts), what pages they clicked on, and how long they were on each page. Knowing your viewers moves or lack thereof gives you a clue as to what posts effectively nudge them to take that extra leap over to your online storefront on the big ole’ busy world wide web.

If you stay true to your brand by owning your message and use the right tools to track what works and what doesn’t, you will be well on your way to lassoing new business leads and sales. The world wide web doesn’t have to be a wild, uncharted western frontier if you take a measured approach and organically grow your business with the same principals that got you started in the first place.

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