How to get started with social media

Most companies know it is important to have a social media presence, but few know exactly how to get started with social media. This article provides step-by-step information, complete with examples and links to external resources, for organizations who are ready to jump into social.

Why use social media?

Before we get to how, lets talk about why. Most companies believe they should have a social media presence. But why? Establishing why you want to dedicate resources to creating and managing social media profiles/pages is a critical step in defining, and eventually measuring, your success in social. Here are four common goals (in no particular order) businesses have for their social media presences:

  1. Build brand awareness: People may know your company’s name, but they might not know the depth and breadth of your offerings. Having an active social media presence can help build awareness of your brand and what you have to offer.
  2. Reach a broader audience: Because of the nature of the medium, having a social presence helps you reach not only people who are directly connected with you, but also 2nd and 3rd degree connections. This can exponentially increase your reach.
  3. See what the competition is doing: Keeping tabs on competitor offerings, promotions, communication strategies and more can help you better understand what prospective customers are seeing in the market, and what is influencing their decision making.
  4. Generate quality leads: Social media can help you reach the right audience with the right content, which can help to drive traffic, and quality leads, to your website or to engage with you directly.

Before you dive into social, be sure to answer the question of why you want to do so. This will help ensure you are choosing right tactics to support your strategy and goals.

What social media channels should I use?

A graphic from LinkedIn's Sophisticated Marketer's Guide to Social Media 2017 ed

First, you need to understand your audience. What social media channels are they using? How do they consume information (blog posts, eBooks, infographics, case studies, etc.)? 

Second, understand your company’s position. What are your goals for your company’s presence on social media? How much time and effort do you have to dedicate to maintaining a social media presence?

Answering these questions can help you decide on which social media channels to establish a presence. With that said, LinkedIn is by far the most influential social network for B2B companies (see graphic, right and quote, below). If you only have enough resources to dedicate to one social media channel, consider putting them towards LinkedIn.

“One social media resource stood far above the rest: LinkedIn. The professional networking site had the biggest impact on the [buying] research process – by far – with 40% describing it as “very important” and another 41% describing it as “somewhat important.” Blogs came in second with 37% describing them as “very important.” – Demandgen 2016 B2B Buyer’s Survey Report

How do I establish a social media presence for my company?

Once you have decided which social media channel(s) to use, you need to create a page or profile. Below are some tutorials on creating pages/profiles on some of the most popular social networks.

How do I effectively leverage my company’s social media presence?

Managing a social media presence is generally comprised of posting content, responding to user engagements, updating profile information as needed, and reviewing analytics data. All of these components are important to achieving and measuring your success on social media. It is possible to directly manage your presence on multiple channels via the admin interface on each channel. However, if you have more than one or two channels, it can be helpful to leverage a management tool. Many such tools exist. A commonly used and free social media management tool is Hootsuite. Subscription-only platforms include Sprout Social and Sendible, among others.

What should I post on social media?

Frequently, this is where people hit a roadblock. They know how to get started with social media and have created a profile on one or more platforms, but don’t know what to post. Two main posting options exist – curated content, and original content. Curated content is content created by others, and hosted on another website. This can be an easy avenue for creating your initial posts, but shouldn’t be relied on as your sole source of content for posts. Otherwise, you’re broadcasting to prospects and customers that you aren’t the source of relevant information, but are instead an information middle-man/woman. Original content positions you as an engaged member of your given area of expertise, and shows you have something relevant to add to the social conversation. Original, well-crafted content helps you stand out from the crowd. Need some help getting started? Read our article on how to decide what to blog about.

Regardless of whether it is directing users to curated or original content, a social post should contain three components; text, a link, and an image. The text should be a short “teaser” about what you are offering. The link should direct the user to the content you are referencing. The image will be automatically generated based on the link you include in the posting. Once all three of these are in place, post away.

How do I measure the success of my company’s social media presence?

Establishing goals and ways to measure success is a necessary part of having an effective social media presence and strategy. Most social media channels have well-developed, built-in, and free analytics packages for their platforms, which can be accessed by administrators. These generally show follower/user growth over time, post impressions, and user engagement (shares, likes, comments). These are useful metrics, and should be monitored, assuming they are relevant to your reasons for having a social media presence.

Additionally, you can use a website analytics package (the most prevalent of which is Google Analytics) to view traffic driven to your site from various social channels, goal completions originating from social channels, geographic distribution of website referral traffic originating from social medial, and more.

Combining social platform analytics with website analytics will give you a robust view of how social is influencing your business objectives. Here is a Google Analytics Social Dashboard you can import into your Google Analytics account. Click on the link, then select your analytics account/view to import. You can use this to see your top socially-referred pages, geographic location of visitors who came from social media, traffic from social sources by device type, and more.

Now you know how to get started with social media. Good luck, and happy posting!

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About the author : Dustin Moore

Dustin Moore is a leader, digital marketing expert, and writer focused on using data-driven recommendations, easy-to-understand explanations, and actionable insights to solve problems and drive success.

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