Leveraging social media on your own terms

Strategic use of social media allows you to peel back the curtains of your business and reach out to clients

It should not be surprising to hear how important social media can be in running a business. As a promotional device, social media allows us to peel back the curtain of our business and directly reach out to our clients, while offering our services or other insights about our work. Social media represents an opportunity to circumvent the Google ranking system and to build an audience based solely upon the merits and qualities of our brand.

What can be frustrating about social media, and frankly so many of the digital tools we have these days, is that it represents another “thing” that requires learning, maintaining and doing—activities that pull us away from our core day-to-day business needs. Maybe you realize the importance of social media but don’t feel you have the time to do everything that’s needed. Let’s discuss how to do social media on your own terms.

Who’s Who?

Working with social media on your own terms starts with thinking about your audience a bit. Knowing who you are speaking to will help you to narrow down and focus your social media options. What is the demographic of your audience? How old are they? What are their interests? What do they spend their time online doing? The more we can nail down about who we want to address in our social media messaging, the clearer the options become.

Different demographic groups tend to utilize different social media platforms. Now, that’s not a hard and fast rule, but more times than not you’ll find younger audiences engaging with social media that leans toward the cutting edge (i.e. new video and photo services), while more established audiences tend to move toward the more conventional, tested platforms like Facebook or LinkedIn.

Picking the Players

Talk to many marketing firms about which social media channels you should engage in and you’re likely to get a lengthy list of the key players. While it is true that more can often be better, we’re talking about doing social media on your own terms.

Starting with the channels where your clients and customers spend their time should more than likely be your focus. If you primarily work with an older, more conservative group of people, trying to take on Snapchat or YouTube versus a more established service like Facebook or LinkedIn might not be the best option.

Don’t fall into the trap of taking on too much at one time. The number one way to fail when doing social media is to bite off more than you can chew. Leveraging social media on your own terms is about making it work for you and moving at your own speed. If you feel that starting off with one social media channel is the best for your company, then that is the direction you should go. Build a process, build consistency and build an audience. Then move on to the next option; that you way you are completely in control of your social media presence.

Embracing Consistency

We work with a lot of clients who flounder on social media because they can’t figure out what type of content they should create or how often they should post. Take some time to read a few articles about the recommended number of times you should post per day or per week and you won’t find a lot of consistency in the answers. That’s because the most important thing when it comes to doing social media on your own terms is to be consistent. If you can only do one post a day, then it’s one post per day. Just be consistent with that. Once you have that down, try to increase it a bit.

As for the types of content you should produce, try to provide value/insight in the content you are publishing. Don’t just talk about your services. Spend the majority of your time answering questions your clients might ask, highlighting different aspects about your field or area of work, or providing facts or relevant articles that could benefit your audience. The more value you provide, the more it will resonate with people. Then when you’ve got a good mix going, sprinkle in a bit about your services as well, but don’t overdo it.

Make It Fun

Finally, you should strive to make social media fun. When you look at it as a tool to help educate and inform, it stops being just one more “thing” you have to take care of and becomes what it is meant to be – an opportunity. That opportunity allows you to extend your brand and resolve customer service issues. It becomes a tool for education and interaction, and most importantly a way to personally connect with those you do business with on your own terms.

Erin Lynch is a designer, writer, and educator living in Vancouver, Wash. He owns the design studio Shop (https://seeyouinshop.com) and is an editor at The Portland Egotist (https://theportlandegotist.com). Reach out and make friends on Twitter: @erinlynch.

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