Social Media 101: 4 Steps to Getting Started

Many companies are intrigued by social media, and know they should be in the game, but don’t know how it can help them — or how to get started.

Why do it?

Social media can be a valuable opportunity for your business to gain customer insight, engage in direct channels of communication, and measure the effectiveness of the conversations.

As social media continues to evolve, it’s hard to decipher the best practices to integrate a Social Media Plan into your business practice. With that in mind, we’ve put outlined 4 steps for starting your company’s social media participation.

1. Lend an ear

Social media, in the simplest terms is a media outlet based around an online social network. Like any social gathering, conversations happen here. Before you can become involved in the conversation you have to know what people are talking about. By listening and watching what people are talking about you can learn how to best contribute to the conversations.

Think of it as meeting a group of people for the first time at a party.

You can’t walk up to them and just randomly start a conversation. Sometimes the best way to build a relationship is to listen to what they are talking about so that you can engage when you have something meaningful and interesting to contribute.

2. Create a Plan

  • Who’s in charge?

Social Media Platforms provide a venue for conversations between people, not companies. People want to have conversations with experts who are passionate about their work and who are empowered to act on feedback received from the community. Make sure whoever is in charge of your social media efforts knows your company’s mission, and has a full understanding of your policies, products and services. They should also be reliable and dedicated to act on feedback that is received.

  • Set Guidelines

A social media policy is extremely important for your company and should be developed before you engage in conversations through Social Media. This policy will offer your employees guidelines on the appropriate way to engage in online conversations.

  • Define your strategy

There are many social media platforms to engage in, but not all of them may make sense for your business.  Whatever your strategy, it should start or further a discussion that illustrates your company’s commitment to creating conversations and online relationships.

3. Join the Conversation

This is where the fun starts! Start creating blogs or commenting on others, build a community on Twitter or Facebook, upload images to Instagram or Flickr. Use whichever platform is going to support your strategy the most. But jump in and become a part of the conversation. Start small so you can manage it.

4. Measure your Success

Measuring social media campaigns requires you to ask questions

  • Did our customers learn something about us?
  • Did we engage in new conversations with our customers?
  • Did we learn anything new about our customers?
  • Does our company have an effective new tool for external feedback and reputation management?

Remember that success isn’t measured by how many people like you on Facebook or follow you on Twitter.

Hard work and relationship building leads to an engaged community of valued customers and dedicated fans that will spread word of mouth promotion for your business.

In Conclusion

Participation in social media can lead to enormous payoff for your business. You’ll learn how your target audience perceives you by establishing a two-way dialog with your customers, empowering them to speak with you instead of at you or about you. Without a strategic approach to social media, it’s difficult to succeed.

We hope the steps outlined here will help you in your social media efforts. Jump in and have fun playing with your customers!