5 Steps to Starting Social Media for Small-but-Mighty Businesses

This post was written by Anna Colibri, founder of Colibri Digital, an outsourced digital marketing company in San Francisco. When she’s not online, you can find her reading, writing, meditating, momming, or roaming the streets of SF. 

Businesses have more ways of reaching people than ever before. Traditional print media is still a fantastic way to promote your company, but businesses need to take advantage of digital media options in order to truly thrive in today’s world. One of these key options is social media. There’s a social media platform that can suit the needs of any business, yet with all the choices, figuring out where to begin can be daunting.

Having a basic social media game plan is essential for any new business. If you’re wondering where to begin,  check out the 5 steps below to ensure your company has a solid social media foundation to build off of. (You can also explore AcademyX’s 2-day social media class in SF,  LA,  San Jose,  or Sacramento.)

Step 1: Choose Your Platforms

The most common error new businesses make when starting their social media is being on too many platforms. Pinterest, YouTube, Facebook, Vine, Tumblr, Twitter, Periscope, Instagram…. how can you possibly do them all? Unless you have a whole team of social media managers, being on every social media site is not a feasible strategy.

Instead, take the time to do a little research and find out which platforms your target audiences are most likely using. As well, determine which platforms best showcase your business. For example, if your business is video-oriented, then YouTube and Vine are good options.

Once you’ve chosen 2-5 social media platforms, stick with those and focus on building up your followers on those sites.

Step 2: Keep Your Branding Consistent

Branding on social media sites requires more than just your logo. You’ve got cover photos, profile photos, images, and app tabs that will all need to be in line with your company’s design properties. If not, your social media sites will look sloppy and unprofessional. More often than not, people will click on one of your social media sites before they ever see your website, so make sure you leave them with a good first impression.

To do so, create a style guide. Choose a color scheme (don’t forget to include hex codes so everyone who posts for you knows exactly which colors to use) from your website and use those colors as your primary ones for text, logo, and borders. If your logo is text-based, get a logo icon created. Logo icons are perfect for profile photos and for overlaying onto images used for social media posts.

The payoff is that you’ll have consistent branding on multiple sites, which will expand the reach of your brand. Plus, the more people see your branding, the more they are going to associate it with your company and what your company offers.

Step 3: Optimize Your Website For Social Media

Social share buttons are one of the best tools for increasing the reach of your brand. These buttons allow people to share content from your site without leaving your web page. Knowing where to place them on your website is important. Social share buttons should be at both the top and bottom of web pages and articles or blog posts.

On your home page, you should include social media tabs that link to your social media sites. Only include tabs for the sites you are on and only include the tabs once your social media sites are ready. Most important, make sure that the links open in a new window, not the existing one, so that people are not led away from your website.

Lastly, the feature images on your web pages, blog posts, or articles need to be optimized for Facebook. That way, when people post your web link, the image for the link will appear in its largest size. The minimum size for a link image on Facebook is 484 x 252. Ensure that your feature images are a derivative of these dimensions.

Pro tip: Optimize the filename of your images so that includes your business name. 001.jpeg just doesn’t sell your biz!

Step 4: Build A List Of Strategic Partners

The social media sites for your business may look amazing, but they are not going to achieve much if no one is aware that they exist. What business partners do you have that would be willing to share your social media posts on their networks? Reach out to everyone you can for mutual promotion. They share your posts and in exchange you share theirs. Everyone wins.

It’s also beneficial to promote your social media sites to your own database. If you have a bricks and mortar business, put up posters or flyers prompting people to follow your social media sites. If your business is online, send an email to your database announcing which social media platforms you are on and inviting them to follow you.

Step 5: Hire A Social Media Manager

Many new businesses think they can manage their social media on their own—until they actually try it. Once they realize that social media management takes anywhere from 15 to 40 hours a week, they change their tune.

Yes, a social media manager is an expense. But if you play your cards right, the return on investment (ROI) will be worth it. The trick is finding an experienced social media manager who knows how to convert social media followers into paying customers. Ask for track records, case studies, and examples of their work when interviewing potential candidates.

Now you’re all set! You’ve got your social media platforms picked out, your branding is consistent, your website is optimized, strategic partners are helping to promote, and you’ve chosen a social media manager who will leverage your business. Enjoy being social!

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