8 steps to get your small business on Social Media for real.

This question seems to be asked more often these days from my friends, family and anyone I come across who finds out what I do.

“Does my company need to be on Social Media?” Any variation of that question, but that’s the jist of it.

And of course my answer is always “if you want to grow your business, keep your current customers and keep them happy, then YES!”

Not only because I feel that they could grow their business, but more importantly, like the Yellow Pages (use to be?), this is how people find you. Yelp! Foursquare, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram are all in the realm of possibilities, and there are plenty more coming to the market every day.

Social media is a necessity, heck even the CIA has a whitty Twitter account.

Using social media for your small business is no longer something that tech companies do, it’s how you get found, it’s how you tell your story, it’s how you find customer service issues that you might otherwise not have found, it’s how you keep in touch with your customers and get new ones by golly!

Did you know that 94% of all marketers use social media to communicate? That’s your competitors in front of your customers, communicating, telling their story, asking questions, learning, offering deals and being relevant.

Don’t think your business is right for social media? I bet you wouldn’t think these companies are either.

One way or another, your clients are being spoken to, whether its on social media, a banner ad on a mobile app, an email getting sent. Adults in the US spend over 11 hours per day on digital media, that’s their laptop, tv, mobile phone, smart car, tablet or any other device.

It’s not as hard as it sounds, anyone can start, and here’s how!

Step one. DO SOMETHING! It is going to take time to build up a robust presence that can grow your business, every day that you wait is another day that you competitor had a chance to win your current or future customers over.

Step two. This is the “something” that you need to do. Simply sign up for Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn as a business. This is key, because once you start building your profile in one of these, you can use these social networks to automatically create profiles in others. This will save a little bit of time and make it easier to tell your story across all platforms.

Step three. Go to your competitors sites, see what they’ve done. Learn the story that they are telling, read comments, look at pictures, videos, reviews and all of their different sites and accounts. Now you know the story they are telling, tell your story. What do you do better than they do? Why do your customers like you more than your competitor? Write about it, it doesn’t have to be a full article, or amazingly designed graphic, just do a simple post. The goal here is to start laying the foundation by getting content, of any kind.

Step four. Invite friends to your sites to start building the headcount. Sure they may just be buddies from high school, but they won’t mind knowing about your business, and they may even use your services. More importantly, you will have people actually following you on your site. This adds a bit of credibility. You probably won’t need 3 million followers on Twitter to grow your business (you might), but again you have to start somewhere.

Step five. Post something. Post something else. Post something else, and keep posting. Maybe it’s a picture of a happy customer, make sure that they approve first of course, post that picture to Facebook, Yelp or wherever and get that person to ‘friend’ you, so that you can “tag” them. Now you just got your companies social media page in front of all of this clients friends, with a non-salesy way of getting a recommendation from your existing client. Don’t even ask them to share it or recommend you to other people, just let it happen.

Step six. Create better content. Now that you have started to build your presence, you’ve got some followers, people might even be commenting and sharing what you are doing. Now it’s time to start taking what you’ve learned from your competitors, your customers, your friends and tell your story. Write a blog post or a long status update about what makes your company, your service, your customers better. Why are YOU the choice to go with? It doesn’t need to be all “salesmany”, simply tell a story.

Step seven. Test, analyze, adjust, test, analyze, adjust… And this is when you go from staying in the conversation, and being relevant amongst your competitors, to being the leader! Using any number of tools available to analyze your social media, your website, and your actual real life customers, you can start seeing what your customers truly need, want or can live without. Focus on solving the needs, ask them, write about the subject, tell stories, see how your customers interact with it, adjust.

Step eight. Don’t spend a dime on any advertising until you’ve completed step 1–7. By the time you get to step 8, you will be in a much better position to know what you want to say, who you want to say it to and where you want to say it.

At Social Pepper, we do this for all of our amazing customers and a whole lot more. There is no secret formula, but it does take effort and time. You do have to do the work, you have to listen, you have to grow and you have to be patient. Print this out, bookmark it or contact a professional, either way, there is no skipping this step if you want to survive!