You have decided that you are ready to take your business to the next frontier, the online realm of social media, TO INFINITY AND BEYOND! Excellent choice, you are moving in the right direction. But now you’re thinking, “Oh No! I don’t know what to do! What do I say? How do I get a return on investment for this?! Is it even worth it? Maybe I can just make a Facebook page and be done with this social media stuff.”

STOP.

If you are only going to create a Facebook page, don’t even bother. You are better off not using social media at all.

Fear not, take a deep breath – and let’s look at social media from another angle. Yes, it can be technical, and yes it is online but the very basis of social media starts with people.

Social media is your new networking tool. Think of it as an extension of your voice, your sales team, and your brand. As many have said, “social media is networking on steroids”.

How do you get started? Or even better, why should your business be utilizing social media?

The answer is simple, business is moving, or rather has moved, online. If someone wants to know about a company, service, or product chances are that they will go online to check it out. Technology is at our fingertips and the consumer, the client wants information NOW.

What can social media do for you?

First of all social media is about building your brand, your relationships, and your network. Most of all it is about engagement with people and providing value. If your first approach to social media is to come out, guns a blazin’ with the latest sales product or promotion you will likely be disappointed in the results, or more specifically the lack thereof. Social media is about taking the conversation to the consumer. But what does that mean you ask? The people who are buying your products, your services, or your expertise want to know that you are not only a leader in your field, but that you are human! Yes, social media humanizes your brand, your company, or your product.

Think about a conversation you would have with a customer or client. That is the same approach you want to take on social media. Let people get engaged, get them talking! Your customers want to see the work that goes into testing and developing products. They want to see into the culture – the people of your organization. They are not just buying a product, they are supporting and creating jobs and livelihoods.

So what do you do?

For starters – don’t just make a Facebook page or a twitter account and call it at day. Your consumers won’t respond to that! If that is the plan, then you are hurting your business more than you are helping it. Your customer wants to see involvement, engagement and most of all, responses. You need to approach social media like you would your sales or marketing plan for the year. Know your audience, be aware of the current events and have a plan in place. Take a look at what platform your audience uses. You want to build a network and a community of followers. Know your market and the segments you are targeting, what there pain points are and how you can provide value to them.

But how do you do that?

Share Content - whether it is something your company has written or something someone else has written but is related to your industry and will benefit your audience.

Offer Advice - build your reputation as a leader and expert in your field. Help solve your customers’ problems and pain points by asking and answering questions.

Be Human – did you have a potluck at the office? Maybe there are events or special occasions taking place that week that you are involved in. All of that is relevant to your audience. Control your emotional posting. Emotion is good to show to a certain degree, if your emotions are on high make sure to temper your response. Keep in mind that you are still representing your business, reactive posts and too much emotion can scare off your audience.

Keep Sales to a Minimum – on your pages, on your profiles, posts, and messages don’t immediately go for the sale. Your audience will tune you out. Fast.

Post Frequently but be Relevant – if you are posting just for the sake of posting, stop. Once again remember your audience wants information that is beneficial to them, not spam.

Be Transparent – this is a BIG DEAL! Many people, especially the younger generations review all information online before making a purchase. If you have bad reviews or people who have had problems, make sure you address them and do so in an open and polite manner. This can be in the form of a response to the comment (usually with an apology), but also through offering to contact them directly to resolve the problem. Addressing problems that arise in a timely and respectful manner shows that you are committed to your product and to your customers.

Have Fun – social media is about humanizing your company, product, or brand. Don’t be afraid to joke or post things your company stands for! Remember, if you wouldn’t say it to a customer or client directly DON’T say it on social media.

Start with this. Think on it, chew the cud, ruminate, and start forming your social media plan. Remember though, it starts with people and social media is simply and extension of that mind set. Stay tuned for our next blog, where we will take a bite out of the meatier section of social media. Until then, #GetInspired so you can #GetEngaged!

Jessie Huber is the Marketing Manager at Morris Interactive