The social media world of Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn consists of MILLIONS of users. In fact, over 80% of all U.S. residents use a social network account on a regular basis. Check out how much time Americans enjoy spending on social sites:

Nielsen found U.S.users spend nearly 10x more time on Facebook than Twitter or LinkedIn.

Despite the popularity of these websites, only 44% of small businesses actively use social media to connect with their consumer base. Businesses who fail to target social media users are missing out on the opportunity to engage with an active, influential consumer base. For most small businesses, the culprits for lack of online activity include:

Lack of time (With a small business, you already wear many hats. Adding another role to your repertoire can seem overwhelming)
Lack of knowledge (You know you SHOULD use social media site, but you just don’t know WHAT you’re supposed to do)
Lack of an audience (You have a boring business (no offense), such as cable manufacturing, and you don’t think people would really be interested in hearing from you.

In this blog post, I’m mainly going to address the second bullet point; I’ll touch on the third one in a follow up post. As for the issue of time – the first bullet point – oftentimes, we don’t make time for things we’re unsure of how to do. In fact, these kinds of projects actually seem like a waste of time. After all, if you’re sitting in front of Twitter, twiddling your thumbs for 20 minutes, trying to figure out what to say, you might just stop in frustration because you feel like you’re wasting your time (which, if you’ve twiddled your thumbs for 20 minutes, I’d agree: you’re wasting your time.). However, if you know HOW to do a task, you’re more likely to make time to get it done, because you know what you need to do and how long it’s going to take.

The biggest roadblock for many small businesses is knowing what to post – whether it be on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn. Do people really want to know what you had for lunch? (The answer is NO. People do NOT care what you and your employees had for lunch. Unless, of course, you’re a restaurant owner crafting new creations to put on your menu. In which case, please, feel free to show your audience what you’re working on). However, your everyday business interactions often provide you with some materials for postings.

For instance, a couple months ago, Digital Dogs had the opportunity to give a presentation at a local SCORE seminar. It was great – we had good feedback from the audience and it even provided us with a couple of business leads. Apart from that, we were able to take some video of the presentation and post that online. Here’s a clip that we took:

Oh, wait. We completely had the BEST intentions to take some video and post it online, but we were in such a rush to get to the presentation on time that we completely forgot once we were there. But, that’s okay. We were able to grab some pictures on our phones, and we could post these photos online:

Oops – we forgot to take pictures, as well. Well, at LEAST we were able to post on Facebook and Twitter about the event and let everyone know how it went.

Except, we didn’t do that either. We had a great opportunity to leverage this event on social media sites, and WE DID NOT. Regardless, such an event provides great material for updating your company’s online profiles. Learn from our (poor) example, and you might start viewing events through the lens of marketing potential that they have online.

Here are some things that you might be able to use for social media fodder:

– Speaking events and conferences (whether you’re speaking or just attending)
– New products or services you’re rolling out
– News in your industry (newly published studies, developments, etc.)
– Anniversaries (Did your company just celebrate its 5-year anniversary? Let people know!)
– New staff acquisitions
– Charitable work
– Etc. (The following blog post will give more ideas that fall under the Etc. category)

The main goal of posting regularly to social media sites is to show your customers and other people in your industry that you’re a resource of information – a true expert – in your industry. To avoid overkill on any one topic, make sure to mix up the things you post about. After all, even if your company does a lot of charity work, people will get sick of hearing about it, if it’s all you post about and they feel like you’re bragging.

Apart from know WHAT to post, you also have to make the time to do it. It’s okay if you’re not perfect about posting – trust us, we know how easy it is to let good opportunities slide on by. However, once you get into the mindset and the habit, you’ll be able to see the positive impact that some good social media communications can have on your business.

Look out for the next blog post, in which we’ll discuss how you can market even the most BORING businesses through social media.

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