DenialIf you’re a business owner, the last thing you probably want to think about is another item to add to your to-do list. And for many, adding social media to the list can seem nebulous and even pointless. However, if you think of “doing” social media as more of a business presence builder and less of a time waster, you’ll start to reap the benefits that are possible. Because if you think that your business doesn’t need a digital presence, you’re sadly mistaken.

Our business has gotten as many good leads from our online presence and the activities we do in social media as it has in face-to-face networking.

It’s time to stop avoiding social media. Here is what we did, and what we continue to do, in order to build a presence online.

Begin. It’s really not that complicated. Billions of people are using Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, etc. Don’t let people tell you that it’s some big mystery. Oh, sure, there are more effective tactics and techniques than others, but you will learn by doing, as with most things. And there are expert trainers and consultants (like us!) who will be happy to share their expertise, which could be time and money well spent to get you started and even for giving long-term support.

Remember that most people today go and check out a product or service online before they make a decision. A business that has nothing to see is suspect.

Pick a platform like Facebook or Google+ and just get started.

Be consistent and frequent. You’ve got to let people know that you have something to say, so you have to post often and consistently. That’s really the only way you’re going to get “heard” among the noise. Unless you have rabid fans, which is probably not that likely, your followers are only going to see a fraction of what you post, regardless of the platform. Posting often is really the only way to start building visibility.

Share your knowledge, or at least the knowledge of others in your industry. You know your business and industry better than any of your potential customers, so become the expert that they need. The content that you post should inform, advise, solve issues, bring a smile, entice a reaction. If possible, vary the content as well so that you are sharing articles, videos, photos, quotes, and articles from other experts in your industry.

Build an audience. You will have little impact if you don’t have an audience, and for most small businesses, building an audience takes time. You have to be willing to follow and become a fan of others. You have to be willing to take time to connect in the hope that people will reciprocate (and also generate goodwill and maybe even learn something yourself!). After all, why should you expect others to listen to you if you aren’t willing to do the same? On Twitter, that means following other people. On Facebook, you need to become a fan of other businesses. On Google+, you’ve got to “circle” other people and businesses. On LinkedIn, it means sending out connection requests (with a personalized message, please). On YouTube, you need to subscribe to other channels. You get the picture.

Also, building an audience means letting people know that you have an online presence. Encourage people to become fans and followers in all of your communications. Post signs in your office or storefront. Encourage your employees, if you have them, to talk about your social media presence.

Avoid becoming a nuisance. Do not promote your business every time you post. In fact, you should not be promoting most of the time. Be informative, be helpful, be humorous. Let your humanity and expertise show through. Yes, you can post promotions, but keep it to about 20-30% of the time.

Be involved in your social media plan and activities. It is mightily tempting to just hand over your social media plan and activities to your niece or an intern or even a social media management company, but you must provide input. You are the voice and force of your business. Make sure you know what is happening, and make sure that you are leading the way. Be involved in the process.


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