Keep Your Social Media Accounts Active and Engaging - dummies

Keep Your Social Media Accounts Active and Engaging

By Barbara Findlay Schenck

Whether you use social media to market your small business or simply to share content, it’s important that you are active and engaging. With social media, consistency in frequency and message is as important as it is with other forms of advertising.

Participate with your social media networks through a combination of three activities:

  • Sharing useful, relevant, interesting information, called content, created by your business.

  • Sharing — basically re-gifting — useful, relevant, interesting content created and shared by others.

  • Sharing your thanks, praise, expertise, and input by adding your comments to others’ posts.

Share small business content through social media

Businesses that pull people to their pages online do so with useful, relevant, consistently presented information that takes time and discipline to create.

If you have a blog this part gets easier, because maintaining a blog forces you to create useful information that you can then repurpose to feed into your Facebook and LinkedIn pages, feature on Twitter, pin on Pinterest, and compile into newsletters and mailings.

With or without a blog, however, do these things:

  • Develop content that supports your social media objectives.

  • If you’re seeking awareness and credibility, share content that gains attention and establishes your business as a uniquely valuable resource. Examples include links to publicity, favorable reviews, research findings, and white papers or blog posts with helpful and interesting content that people will want to read and share.

  • If you’re seeking interaction with your target audience, create and share surveys, host forums, or announce online or off-line events that prompt input, comments, and conversations. LinkedIn Answers is a good place for this activity, as are Facebook Questions or Polls and Twitter Chats, which you can stay on top of by following @ChatSchedule.

  • If you’re seeking customers, create and share content that draws people to your business, perhaps by offering free samples or material, such as white papers, e-books, or other useful, relevant information.

    Just be sure you link the offer to your website home page or, better, to a landing page on your website that’s customized to greet new visitors, fulfill their interest, and invite them to join your mailing list or any customer-registration database.

  • Develop a reputation for content that supports your brand image. For example, become known as the business that puts out a monthly list of top five tips in your business arena or that releases a quarterly opinion poll or annual best-practices white papers.

    The For Dummies brand is known for reader-friendly reference information. Other brands are known for their unique (and highly shareable) graphical presentations of information, known as infographics. By deciding on a type of content to share on an ongoing basis, you not only make content development easier but also create higher awareness, recognition, and credibility.

  • Establish and stick to a posting schedule. You can’t achieve visibility or credibility with once-in-awhile social media involvement. Commit to a schedule that keeps your business visible without inundating your audience. (The consensus seems to be that eight Twitter messages and four Facebook posts a day touches on the outer limit.)

  • Involve your employees by sharing your social media objectives and approaches and assigning responsibilities that allow you to share the burden — and the enthusiasm.

  • Automate the process of posting across multiple networks by using free tools like Seesmic Ping, HootSuite, or Buffer.

Become a content conduit for small business content

If you share content from others, you benefit in a number of ways:

  • You become known as a connected person who relays valuable information.

  • You generate social media activity without having to generate content.

  • You attract the attention of those whose content you share, likely leading them into your network and possibly gaining their interest in sharing your content as well.

To find interesting and shareable content, study your own social media feeds, read news sites that carry interesting information, and scan industry blogs, sites, and pages. Identify several sources worth watching carefully and use an RSS reader like Google Reader to receive alerts every time the sites are updated.

When you see something that may interest your audience, don’t just share it — let your audience know why you’re sharing it and where it came from (for example, “Great industry stats: Tip of the hat to @greatcontact”).

On social media, sharing is the sincerest form of flattery.

Get conversational with your small business content

Use the social media networks you establish to interact with customers, associates, and followers online.

  • Watch for comments posted to your content and respond, preferably within 24 hours. On Facebook, a simple “like” may be enough. On Twitter, a retweet with a “thx” may do. Best of all, a thoughtful response posted as a reply gives you a chance to say thanks and provide more information.

  • Watch for any mentions of your business, products, or people. Whenever appropriate, immediately retweet, repost, share, or reply with thanks. You’ll amplify your own presence and deepen connections all in a few keystrokes.