Lets start by saying it’s ok, we know and understand that the way you have done business your whole life is totally acceptable and i’m sure it has brought you great success…So why are you reading this? You keep hearing all this talk of SEO and Social Media and how it can help boost traffic to your site and thus increase sales and you want in. Or… One of your staff members mentioned your competitors all have this thing called Facebook and something else called something like Tweetor and you figure if they all have it I probably should too (which might I add is sound logic).

Social Media isn’t something to be feared but is infact something to be embraced and made a part of your businesses every day life. So lets get started!

1. What is the point of Social Media?

Without referring to facts and figures about the millions of people who use Social Media for business and pleasure every day the point of Social Media can be broken down into a few simple reasons.

Firstly (and the clue is in the name) the point is to be Social.. Your website is a great online leaflet and source of information for prospective customers but this is one way traffic. Social Media is a platform for your business to have a voice…your very own virtual podium for you to reach out to people and communicate.

Secondly it allows you to be a leader in your field. You can create content whether its a blog or a video that is aimed at providing up to date and relevant information for businesses in your field. You might be asking yourself why would I do that? The reasons are simple! If you create great content, people will come to your site to see it..people will ‘Like’, ‘Share’, ‘Tweet’ ‘+1’.. you name it. By doing this you are boosting your online profile thus extending your social reach further and to more people.. which is exactly what you want to happen.

Lastly (though there are several reasons we could explore) is customer service and customer satisfaction. It seems now that if a customer has had a great experience with your company or equally a terrible experience they will take to Facebook or Twitter to tell the world about it. Whether you are on Social Media or not it is happening… People are talking about you, so we think it would be much better if you are available to them to respond.

If a customer complains publicly through Twitter and within minutes they have a response from you saying something simple such as “We are sorry you have had a negative experience. Please email us with more information so we can help you to get this matter resolved” the customer feels valued, they know you took the time, they know you are sorry and are genuinely concerned and wanting to help.. Your best customers can be the ones who had a bad experience but you turned it around.

2. Isn’t Social Media confusing and hard?

There is an illusion wrapped around Social Media that is in someway difficult and confusing When in reality they are simple. Prior to the first Iphone coming out the whole world used mobile phones without a touch screen (And if they had a touch screen phone it didn’t work) Now we look around our offices or homes and everyone is using an Iphone or an Ipad or something very similar. The point here is that these new technologies are to be embraced not shied away from…and Social Media is exactly the same. Everyone is getting onboard so you should be too.

Yes there is some terminology like ‘Hashtag” and ‘Like” to get used to but essentially once you get the hang of one of them they are all pretty similar, they just call things slightly different names! For example. On Facebook you can ‘Like’ and ‘Share’ a post. On Google+ you ‘+1’ and ‘Share’.. so to ‘+1’ is the same as to ‘Like’ something on Facebook…. Simple. Take your time getting used to the lay outs and the functionality of each platform as they all vary and be prepared to make some mistakes along the way! Its nothing to worry about in the early stages of your social media life.

3. Isn’t just having Facebook enough?

In short no. It is important to establish early on that each social media platform has its own demographic and that the way you speak and the things you post should vary and be targeted for each platform. Generally speaking though, Facebook is useful for communicating directly to your existing customer base and reaching out to prospective customers. I would hold off posting industry news and things that the general public have no interest in on Facebook as this will do nothing to enhance your image or brand.

Twitter can be a great source of information for you, start by ‘Following’ market leaders, and innovators in your field. They will be posting blogs, and information that will be a great way for you to keep up to date with changes and maybe new ways of thinking etc. Essentially Twitter is a mix of interacting with other businesses and sources of information and for communicating with your customers.

Linkedin is primarily for business use, it is a good place to share your knowledge and expertise within your field and to build a network of like minded people who may find the things you have to say of interest.

You may have a different experience so don’t take this as gospel there is no right or wrong answer its up to you to experiment with different approaches and see what works for you and your business.

4. No one uses Google+ though right?

Actually people do use Google+.. infact its rapidly becoming one of the largest Social Media networks out there. The key reason you need to be on Google+ however is simple… Its owned and powered by Google.. it ties in and integrates with google in ways we weren’t even expecting. Here is an example. Lets say you have 1000 people follow you on Google+ and you have been writing and posting blogs on Google+ and your followers have been “+1’ and sharing your post… If someone who is connected to one of these followers who is in no way connected to you or your company searches in Google for something that you happen to have recently written about..Guess what.. You rank in Google higher than most other results. All because someone in their network has +1 your post.

Also… By having a Google+ account by default you now have a Youtube channel (which is also owned by Google)….If everything I just said about Google+ also applies for Youtube then its pretty damn important too right?…Yes it is. Infact..If you post a video about a topic lets say for example you were to search in Google for “How to make a Balloon dinosaur” This is the result:

It is a silly example but it just goes to show that creating powerful video content with information people want will result in high ranks in Google which is good for several reasons! People are finding your content, people are visiting your website and people are going to buy from you.

5. Where Do I Start?

Start small, dream big. Its a simple enough approach. Start by investing time into setting up the key 5 social media platforms..Just to remind you thats Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin Google+ and Youtube. Don’t just set up the accounts and leave them empty. Add a description about your business, your website, your phone number, opening hours, a profile picture and generally just populate each platform with as much information as possible.

Once you have set up the accounts start thinking about the goal, what do you want to achieve and how are you going to achieve it. How am I going to differentiate my posting between the 5 social media platforms?.. Then start posting… and by they I don’t mean once every few months. If I come across a company Facebook page and minimal work has been put into setting it up and they haven’t posted in a few months i’m outta there. Make an effort to at least post or share or retweet something at least once a week on each of your platforms. Youtube can take a little longer but thats another story.

Hopefully this has provided you some insight into Social Media and provided you with the tools and the confidence to start being active socially. If you are a business and you are already using social media then hopefully this will of armed you with some additional information and given you some new ideas you maybe hadn’t thought of.

Just remember your competitors are probably already using social media, your customers are certainly using social media and if you aren’t then you are missing out whilst your competitors take the business from you. It’s like they say with the lottery.. You’ve got to be in it to win it…Except with substantially better odds.

Written by Benjamin Symons http://www.strategies-express.co.uk/