by Emily Worden | Feature Contributor
People ask me about social media and seem annoyed before they start. (“Why do I have to do this? I’m too busy!”) I get it, I really do. I run 4 accounts myself and it’s the least exciting part of my day. But you know what is exciting? Getting new customers, free market research and insider connections. Yup, social media (SM) can do all that and much more. Here’s my responses to the top 10 FAQs:
1) I know SM is important, but why? How can it help me? If Facebook were a country, it would be the third most populated country on the planet. Everyone is already on it, and their conversations are happening with or without you. Get on SM to research your industry, your competition and your customers. Also, make connections with your customers and get valuable feedback about your products.
2) It’s so overwhelming – where do I start? Already on Facebook? Start there. Most businesses start with Facebook, then add Twitter, then Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, YouTube, etc… Start with one site and when you’re comfortable add another. *I recommend reserving your name on every site, even if you’re not currently using it. You may want to use it one day, and you don’t want someone else to have your name.*
3) Which one is best? With over 1 BILLION users, Facebook is definitely the best place to start. However, other sites may have users better tailored for your products. For example, Pinterest’s audience is largely female, so if you sell skin care it’s best you post there. LinkedIn is known for networking, so if you’re a consultant you may want to connect with potential customers there.
4) What do I say? You’re not pitching on SM, you’re communicating. I recommend 1 in 7-10 messages should be a sales pitch. About 85% of the time you should be engaging your followers with industry tips, humorous messages, and behind the scenes info. Communicate with customers – ask questions, get opinions and reply to messages.
5) How can my posts be most effective? Use the least words possible, include an image, and 1-3 hashtags. Research has continuously proven these types of posts generate the most engagement. *If you’re tweeting, leave 20 characters free for people to reply and retweet.*
6) When is the best time to post? People are on SM during office hours and in the evening before bed. Experiment with different times to see which have the highest engagement. For example, I see the greatest response to my posts at 8:30 pm EST and always schedule posts for that time. *The users of each site have different tolerance for postings – because Facebook is more personal, don’t post more than 1-2 messages/day there. I suggest 3-5 messages/day on Twitter and limitless everywhere else.*
7) What days are the best to post? Post everyday if you can, it’s important to be consistent. SM is busiest Thurs-Mon, so be sure you’re posting then. If you can only post once a week, make it Sunday night when everyone and their mother is home, relaxed, and online.
8) How do I get more followers? Engage everyday – like photos and comment on other posts. Next, use whatthetrend.com and hashtag.org to see current trending topics and include them in your posts. *Don’t post unrelated content with popular hashtags. Google Kenneth Cole and #Cairo for a good reason why.* Finally, team up with popular accounts or blogging sites for special events or promotions.
9) I just don’t have the time to deal with social media. While technically not a question, it’s a common complaint. Here’s two solutions:
- Designate a specific time each day to post/engage: As mentioned above, I have highest engagement at 8:30 pm so no matter what is happening that day, I’m sure to be posting then. Make it a part of your daily routine, like brushing your teeth.
- Invest in a SM scheduling service, like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck. I use the former and love it. I spend one day a week scheduling posts and let Hootsuite do it’s thing all week. I’m still engaging everyday on SM, but save a lot of time scheduling my core messages in advance.
10) What else should I do besides post messages? Social Media gives you unprecedented access to VIPs, so take advantage of it! Follow the people important in your field. I engage with celebrities, magazine editors and journalists. They key word is engage, not pitch. Don’t make sales pitches, just stay on their radar with regular engagement. “Like” photos, make comments, send relevant information … Your golden ticket might be one tweet away, so identify the VIPs in your field and start engaging now.
Emily Worden – Entrepreneur, Small Business Strategist, Impossible Optimist – Cambridge, MA
Emily Worden is a Boston-based entrepreneur and small business strategist. She started her custom handbag business eThreads.com in 2008 while pursuing her MBA and working 3 jobs. After a particularly awful shift at her weekend catering gig, Emily threw down the apron and said, “Screw it, I’m going to do something I love!” She graduated and quit her jobs to pursue eThreads full time. Emily believes business can be a powerful catalyst for change. She started eThreads to satisfy the Triple Bottom Line – people, planet and profits – and hopes to inspire other businesses to do the same. She started the cat lifestyle business Ferocious Friends in 2012 with her husband Case to satisfy the needs of their cats Lulu, Smoke and every feline around. Emily started emilyworden.com in 2013 to assist other small businesses with strategic vision and implementation with a focus on marketing, leadership and social media.
Emily is an avid DIYer and loves making things with her hands. Her happy place is the library where she walks once a week; she’s always excited to learn something new. Her extra happy place is a great view of sunset with music pumping in her ears. Emily is grateful everyday for following her dreams and hopes to inspire other people to do the same.