It seems like every client who comes to Powderkeg asks if we think social media would be a good idea for their business. The answer is always yes, but only if you make the commitment to it. A common misconception about social media is that it is free. It is true that signing up to popular social media sites like Facebook and Twitter are free, but as we all know, time is money. This segways nicely into my first tip;

1. Make The Time Investment – It is important to be aware that to be successful with social media, you need to be committed to it. Throwing up an account for your business and occasionally posting to remind people to come in and buy is not going to work. Social media is a time investment that you must be willing to make. You may decide that hiring someone or assigning someone to manage your social media presence is the most cost effective solution for you. In fact, 26% of businesses using social media have hired someone to help with their social media efforts.

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2. Be Consistent – If you are thinking about starting a public social media page for your business but you are not sure if you can post more then once a week, then you might want to hold off until you can consistently post daily. Posting once a month or once a week is not going to gain you any sort of traction on your page. You should be able to consistently post news/updates, interesting pictures and/or videos, questions to your followers or even just some industry related news. If you content is interesting and genuine then eventually people will respond to it.

3. Always Respond – When a customer or potential customer reaches out via social media, always respond. Engaging your users, being more transparent and making your business more personable should be some of your top goals on social media. If a client writes that they love your product, reply with a thank you message. If a customer posts about how they used your service, send them a reply. If a customer writes something negative, as can happen, take the time to reply to their concerns. In real life, when someone bad mouths your business, you do not get that kind of opportunity to defend your business or to make it right. There are a number of tools to monitor social media to see if people are mentioning your business even if they are not directly messaging you or posting to your wall. Taco Bell has done an amazing job recently with surprising people with responses when people casually mention them in tweets or Facebook posts which has garnered them major social media growth and recognition. Social Mention is one of my favorite tools for monitoring mentions.

4. Offer Value – When posting to social media, if you are constantly just advertising yourself, people are going to be turned off. Offer your followers something they can gain from. Share something interesting that they would enjoy, offer them a discount or deal ONLY for your followers to make them feel special and appreciated, post engaging photos and video. Think about what YOU would like to see from a company you are following. If all you do is post about how people should use your service every update, you are going to have a bad time.

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5. Set Goals and Adapt – Setting goals for your social media efforts is a great idea. You may want to increase traffic to your website by 25% for instance. How will you accomplish this? You decide that your plan is going to be to offer coupons that direct customers back to your website to redeem. Maybe you want to set a goal to connect with 20 clients this month to establish a solid relationship. Whatever goals and actions you decide on, always be adapting to the results. Your idea to post pictures of your cat in various locations around your warehouse to gain 50 followers this month may flop, that is OK, adapt and try again!

Graphs courtesy of INTUIT