Getting Started With Social Media? Beginners Tips for Small Businesses – PART I

Start Small, Build Big!

Many business owners are perplexed about this “social media thing”. They know they need it but are so established in the “traditional” forms of advertising, that they aren’t seeing the “tree for the forest”, or the value of how social media works for businesses in this world of seemingly “meaningless chatter” on the social networks. They want to give it a try, but they aren’t ready to invest their hard earned money into it yet.

If you are one of these businesses social media newbies, wanting to give it a try, this article will get your social media program up and running, and giving you practice in how to engage safely, without putting your business at risk. It is always a good idea to hook with a professional social media manager/coach to learn the mindset of this marketing strategy.

Have a strategy or this won’t work! – See a good business strategy outlined at the end of Part II.

1. Pick only one social media platform if you are brand new to social media.

2. Brand your Fan Page with a photo banner that Brands YOU or your business. Have several options to change out periodically. Your personal picture should stay the same, it should be of you, not a logo. People like to see the face of who they are interacting with.

3. Create a Facebook Profile and Facebook Business Page.

4. Consider going to Facebook first, and invite your email contacts to connect with you on both your profile site and your business page. Do this every 3-4 months to connect new faces with you.

5. Find topics related to your niche/business, like where you would go to read the news you like and where your prospective clients might like. Search them out on Facebook and connect with a Friend or a LIKE. If a Friend invite them to your Business Page too.

6. Find a competitors Facebook site and see who they are connecting with and then go and connect with that Facebook page too. Observe if you competitor’s page has lots of conversation. Note how that conversation got started.

7. Go to your Friends or Business connected Fan Pages and comment there, on THEIR site. After a few visits, invite them over to your Facebook page and LIKE it.

8. Are you growing your Fan Page LIKEs with at least 2-3 a week then you can begin with the next step.

Twitter the Highlights of YOUR Business

1. Again, brand your Twitter site with a consistent branded design, similar to your website and/or Facebook Fan Page.

2. Twitter is fast moving and is quickly out of mind or if they blink, it is gone! Know that to engage on Twitter you must be frequent and responsive to other tweets!

3. Find someone interesting in your niche? Start following that person’s followers. These people are your prospects. They are the perfect candidates for your community.

4. Use the # – Hashtag system to find Twitter Chats about subjects where your expertise can shine or your customers will be participating in. #tweettips

5. Participate in conversation on Twitter that are with folks that seem influential on Twitter. Use tools like SocialOomph.com or ManageTwitter.com to locate those people.

6. Be assured that quality people to follow or follow you is better than having LOTS of Twitter followers just for the numbers. If you see that they don’t follow you back or they don’t have conversations with you or anyone else, UNfollow them. You probably with gain more followers, surprisingly. True – that’s how it works!

7. You may find your conversations are more engaging on certain times of the day, depending on who your audience is. If it is Moms then you may have the daytime. If it is businesses, 8-5 on week days. Dads, consider evenings around 5-7 pm. Be aware of what is working for you.

8. Be real on your posts. Be human. Share what you are doing or what inspired you or what lessons of the day were. Share your business adventures too, but don’t sell! Be your audiences’ expert! Be the “go-to person”.

Look for the next article: Getting Started with Social Media Part II – talking about blogging and strategy.

What Social Media Platform Should You Be Using For Your Business?

Choosing the right social media platform.

Not a “One Size Fits All”

You can’t assume that every social media platform is just as good as the others. Choosing a social media platform is not as easy “one size fits all” decision. You have to evaluate which kind of business you have and what social media platform will fit. If you have a restaurant or some kind of entertainment or maybe even a retail establishment, you’ll want to consider using Facebook for your business. Why? Because your business depends upon the engagement or relationship that you make with your customers. You want your customers to feel like they know you and will want to come to visit you. You became their friend. That is what Facebook will do for you. After all I have seen on Facebook a request went out asking for you is the best embroidery shop in town to do some embroidery work on a bunch of coats. If embroidery is your business you want to be the top of mind suggestion to the Facebook inquiry.

Doing B2B or B2C?

Another question you will want to ask yourself is this. Are you doing business to customer (B2C) or are you doing business to business (B2B)? If you are doing business to business you may want to be on LinkedIn instead of Facebook. Many business leaders reside on LinkedIn and they are your contacts. How are you going to reach them? Still making a relationship is important but it isn’t to be LIKED, but more to be seen as the EXPERT. On LinkedIn you will be posting articles about the expertise that you have in your business. LinkedIn is also a very valuable tool for networking into the businesses that you wish to do business for. The demographics for Facebook needs to be considered for your niche. Often times you’ll find more women than men. Does the demographics that you need for your niche fit the demographics that is available (look at checkfacebook.com) to you in Facebook? Or is the demographics of LinkedIn more your target audience, those who do business with you?

For example:

Let’s say you are a mental health organization. You are not charity or non-profit service, but you do services for the public for profit. When you look at your demographics of your clients, you see that you have a majority of women in their upper forties and fifties, who are middle to upper income, and they are local. Mental health is a very emotional topic. Where are women in their thirties, forties or fifties going to come to find answers for their problems? Chances are they will look for answers on Facebook. Facebook provides lots of opportunity for expression from women about their daily lives. If they are in need of emotional support or mental support, they will talk about it on Facebook, not on LinkedIn. However LinkedIn may also be a very good choice because the demographics on LinkedIn supports those who have higher incomes, are very professional and thus may be able to afford getting emotional or mental support from your organization. Maybe both social media platforms can be considered a good choice for you. What will make the difference is how you approach each platform in your marketing. This is why we say one size doesn’t fit all. You will have to customize each social media platform for the audience it brings you.

Save time – consult a social media consultant.

There are many variables to consider when you’re wanting to decide upon your social media platform. Whichever platform that you choose you need to give it time. Once you have decided to embark upon a social media presence, it is highly recommended that you consult with a social media consultant. Spend an hour talking to them about your business, sharing your goals, and then ask them what they feel is your best platform. The small amount of time invested in evaluating your social media platform will pay off and save you lots of time.

Don’t over think it, just make friends!

At this point, all you have to do is – to get started. Meet people online like you would with people in your neighborhood. Find out what their life is about, ask questions about the family, share about your life, and be a real person to them as well. After all, social media is – social. We want to know you, not your business. If your potential customer likes you, trusts you, and sees that you have what they want, they will do business with you. And one extra bonus is that you may have made a real friend and your life will be richer for that too.

5 Ways To Increase Security Within Your Business

There are a certain number of decisions you can make that can help you to ensure the success of your business, but if it is not secure, you, your staff and your clients may be vulnerable. It is important to consider some of the many things that can be done to help protect you and your business.

There are a lot of things to consider when it comes to the security of your business. It is good policy to start from the inside, and give yourself piece of mind where the security of your business and your investment are concerned. There are 5 things that you can do to help keep your business secure.

With modern technology, there are so many ways in which you can make your business vulnerable. Some of the things that can help protect your investment and your profit, may seem to be simple things to do.

1. Restricted use policies

If you do not have restrictions on the use of company computers, and networks, it is a good idea to put policies in place to address these issues. This will help to avoid problems before they happen and eliminate risks. Passwords on computers and networks, virus checkers and saving your information on a separate password protected hard drive is a start to protecting your information.

2. Metal detectors

Metal detectors can be devices that are used in the entrances of your business, can provide your business with extra security. This is a way to help deter crime in your place of business. If you have a shared office block location it may already be in place along with security like signing in visitors, codes on door access points or RFID to open doors are usually in place along-side traditional locks for individual offices.

3. Company ID cards

Company ID cards are a great way to help increase the security of your business. You can even have printed lanyards, which will add to the security. The use of printed lanyards can have your company name and aid in the branding of your company name, as well as bring security to your place of business.

4. Secure financial policies

The areas where finances are handled, have long presented challenges to the security of a business. You can use good policy where finances are concerned to help increase the security of your business from within.

5. Updated IT security policies

There are many changes to modern IT security on almost a daily basis. It is important that you have the policies in place to manage the changes that happen in IT. Having modern systems and procedures can help you to increase the security of your business.

These are some of the many areas that affect the security of modern business. If you want your business to be as secure as possible, these steps can help you to maintain security from within your business, and save you on costs, as well as increase the safety of your business.