Facebook, and Twitter, and Blogs – Oh My!

A Beginner’s Guide to Navigating Social Media

It’s captivating, convenient, effective… and a massive pain-in-the-neck if you’ve never used it before; you can’t simply follow the Yellow Brick Road! “Social Media” is the buzzword on the tip of every business owner’s tongue. But why? What is it about our world that makes us so enraptured by the Tweets, posts and blogs? It comes down to simple psychology: we all want to be involved. These sprawling digital networks enable us to achieve new levels of involvement. As budding entrepreneurs, you can harness this platform to cultivate your presence online. Here are some tips on maximizing your popularity.

Create content.

You’ll know that your main goal is to promote your company and stimulate sales, but there’s no need to make this obvious to your followers. Post fun pictures, quotes, links or blogs that don’t mention your business. Be subtle if you want to self-promote: highlight your product in use or post pictures of appealing things that relate to your business. If people enjoy your creative content, they’ll be more curious to explore your business side.

Ask for feedback.

Social Media is all about being social – who would’ve guessed it? Interact with your customers and fans by asking them for their input. Craft polls, create forums for discussion, reply to comments, and encourage your readers to submit content of their own. Not many people can resist sharing their own opinions and ideas, so let them! Social Media is a two way street, and, though it sounds strange coming from the mouth of an Atlanta-resident, you want as much traffic as you can get!

Try a giveaway or contest.

Incentivize spreading your message by organizing contests or give out freebies. Raffle off popular products to community members who participate regularly or who share your posts with friends. Ignite your followers’ competitive streaks by initiating a contest. Ask trivia questions, or challenge them to submit their own photos or ideas for judging. Reward winners with prizes.

Don’t flood your followers.

Manage your posting to ensure that your followers look forward to your updates, rather than automatically discarding them as spam. Limit yourself to one to two posts a day and try to make them meaningful, constructive posts.

Branch out into other mediums.

YouTube has rocketed to worldwide coverage and attracts an immeasurable number of viewers each day. If you know someone with basic camera skills, try your hand at making a how-to instruction video, a behind-the-scenes peak of the inner workings of your company, or a video blog. If you’re camera-shy, you can get behind the lens and use Instagram to attract a following of the pictures you take. With Instagram’s hashtag system, you can reach a wider audience than ever before as users browse photos that are sorted by their hashtags: #Simpleasthat #Photography #Marketing #Easy

Read the data.

Social Media websites cater to businesses; many provide easy-to-view analytical information that shows you the size and demographics of your audience. You can harness this information to tailor your posts to interest the people visiting your page.

Check up on your competition.

Try googling competing businesses. Take note of the search words that you used to find them, and work to incorporate these key search-words into your website. This will boost your SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, by pushing your website to the top of related Internet searches.

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