If you’ve just opened a business or haven’t yet set up social media channels for your existing business, the world of social media can be one that’s overwhelming for some. You’re probably well aware of why you need social media:

  • You can build awareness for your business.
  • You can use social media as a customer support channel.
  • You can keep existing customers informed.
  • You can use social media to promote new products or services.
  • Social media can help you maintain a positive business reputation.

Social media for personal use is not for everyone, but for businesses, it’s essential. Three-quarters of Americans use Facebook daily, and content consumption on Facebook has increased by 57% in two years, according to HubSpot. HubSpot also reports Instagram user count is increasing around 5% per quarter. Social media has no signs of slowing down.

Use this basic guide for social media beginners if you own a business but are unsure where to start. If you’d like expert help to run your channels, contact us for a free consultation.

Beginner's Social Media Checklist for Small Business Owners1. Choose Your Channels

First you’ll want to determine what social media channels you want your business to be on. According to Pew Research Center, the majority of American adults use YouTube and Facebook. If you create videos for your business, YouTube is a must-have. And if you don’t create videos for your business yet, you should – find out benefits of video marketing here.

Facebook is one of the most important social networks to be on, regardless of the type of product or service you provide. Even B2B businesses should have a presence there, because your customers are likely using it.

The next most popular social networks, along with the percentage of American adults who use each one, are:

  • Instagram: 35%
  • Pinterest: 29%
  • Snapchat: 27%
  • LinkedIn: 25%
  • Twitter: 24%

Instagram is a photo-based social network. Even if your business products or services don’t lend themselves to photography, you can still use Instagram to connect with customers and share photos of your company culture, your customers or shareable graphics of inspirational messaging.

Pinterest is based on visual mood boards, and the site’s users are predominantly female. Snapchat is a photo- and video-sharing chat-based social network whose most loyal users skew younger – read all about Snapchat here.

LinkedIn is a professional social network that is a good site to join, regardless of if you plan on uploading regular updates to it. You should have a business page on LinkedIn in case someone is looking for your type of service or wants more information on your company.

Twitter may not be the most popular social network, but it’s widely used by influencers like celebrities, bloggers, journalists and even the president of the United States. If you want to gain more press for your business, Twitter can help, since it enables business owners to connect directly with influencers who might cover their business.

2. Set Up Your Profiles

Once you’ve selected the channels you want to be on, you need to set up a business profile for each one. Some networks, like LinkedIn, will require that a page is set up by a personal user of the site. In those cases, you may have to set up an individual page for yourself, as well, before creating the company pages.

Sprout Social has an up-to-date guide for social media image sizes. You’ll want to work with a graphic designer to get header and profile images that fit each social network’s specifications. A basic square hero image of your logo is good to have for each social network, but you can get more creative with the header images.

Make sure each social network has up-to-date contact information for your business. You should also try to secure the vanity url for your business, such as facebook.com/[Your Business Name]. Vanity urls are easier for your customers to remember, and they reinforce branding for your business.

Beginner's Social Media Checklist for Small Business Owners3. Plan Your Content

At the bare minimum, you should plan on posting at least once a week on each channel. If you’re a small business owner, you’re probably very busy and strapped for time. You can use a marketing automation tool like Hootsuite to upload social media posts in advance, and even send the same post out on all your channels automatically.

It helps to create a spreadsheet where you can organize the type of content you want to share on social media. On the left-hand column, list all the days in the following month. On the top for the next columns, list each social network you’re on. Using this spreadsheet, you can plan unique messages for your channels and make sure they go out at different times on different days.

When you’re strategizing social media content, aim for a mix of:

  • Business news: Did you recently hire someone? Share a photo of them and a tidbit that shows off their personality. Are you opening a new location? Spread the word. Are you going to be at an upcoming event? That’s a great post.
  • Promotions: Share a link to a product or service, and upload a photo and description. Share special offers or coupon codes. Post about the value a product or service provides.
  • Industry news: Subscribe to industry blogs. Create Google Alerts for terms that relate to your business. When positive news that relates to your industry or business pops up, share it.
  • Fun content for customers: You can add in posts that customers are likely to respond to positively or share. This type of content can include memes, photos, local community news and inspirational quotes.
  • Blog posts, podcasts and other forms of content: If your business is creating content, share that content marketing on social media. Rotate blog posts, podcasts, slideshows, infographics and ebooks in your social media content calendar.

This is a diverse array of social media content ideas. When you vary the types of content you post on each channel, you’ll be more likely to keep your followers engaged since there is always a variety. You can upload posts to a marketing automation tool or schedule them in advance on some channels, like Facebook. You can also go into your spreadsheet every day to see what posts are ready, and then manually upload them.

4. Grow Your Followers

Once you’ve joined social networks and have started posting content, you’ll want more eyeballs on your posts. Grow your channels with online and offline methods like these.

Promote Your Channels Online

Add hyperlinks to your social media channels prominently on your home page and throughout your website. Social Media Today reports one in three social media users prefers using social media for customer care rather than phone or email, so you’ll want to give your customers more ways to get in touch with you.

You’ll also want to announce whenever you’re on a new channel through email. Include hyperlinks to the channels in the email so message recipients can easily click and follow.

You can also add social media icons and links to business cards, print marketing materials and your storefront display. As your customers start following you, their friends might see that and do the same.

Follow Accounts

On social networks like Instagram, Twitter and YouTube, you can make sure your own profile is following others. You might want to start with a search for local journalists and bloggers and follow them. Use hashtag searches for terms that relate to your business, and follow relevant accounts.

Be aware that following too many accounts in a certain amount of time can be flagged as spam by the social network. A safe number to follow each hour on sites like Twitter and Instagram is 25 followers. Twitter and Instagram also impose follower limits, so you’ll really want to make sure each account you follow is meaningful.

If you’ve reached limits, you can go through your accounts and remove people you’re following who haven’t followed you back. Since they’re not likely to engage with you, you can delete them from your list and follow new accounts you might be able to form relationships with.

5. Engage and Participate

Social media is about being social. If your business simply posts your own content without interacting with others, your followers might disengage with your pages.

Make sure to respond to messages and comments you receive from followers on social media. In the case of offensive statements, you can report the user and block the user from your page. Otherwise, when your customers or leads are asking questions or providing feedback, acknowledge that you’re listening and are paying attention.

You can also build relationships with social media users by sharing their content on your page. You can share on Facebook, Retweet or repost through an Instagram app. You can also “like” or comment on other users’ content to show you’re interested in those users.

When accounts share content from your page, be sure to say thanks. Social media etiquette is similar to in-person etiquette. Showing appreciation is valued and can make your followers more engaged.

Need More Help?

This is a quick guide to getting up and running with social media. Your unique business model might mean you should focus more time on a specific channel or post certain types of content. If you’d like a free consultation on how AlphaMind Studios might be able to help, contact us.