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May 19

Entering The Digital Foray: Simple Tips For Social Media Newbies by Scott Belsky Founder & CEO, Behance

 

I often get questions from small business owners asking about social media and taking small steps into the digital world. Questions like, “Should I build a better website?” or “What should I do with Facebook and Twitter?” or, “How do I manage these social media tools once I set them up?” Suffice to say, the quest to create and maintain a digital presence leaves more questions than answers.

Regardless of your type of business, there is unquestionable value in having a digital presence. Our daily lives are increasingly digital in how we connect with others, manage relationships, search for answers and spend idle time. As such, your business should consider what a digital identity looks like.

The most common mistake businesses make is the “do everything” approach that ultimately yields a sub-par and quickly outdated digital presence. Instead, you should evaluate your objectives and leverage the physical brand you already know and love.

Here are a few tips for pushing your business into the digital world:

1. Don’t build a theater—take your show on the road

One common mistake I’ve observed is small businesses spending an inordinate amount of money and time on building a new website rather then building their presence in social networks and other areas of the Web.

“Build it and they will come” is NOT a good strategy in the digital world. On the contrary, you must build your presence where your customers and potential customers already are. Building a Facebook page that is updated with pictures and updates—and allows that your customers to “Like” your page”—may be more productive than whatever you do on your own website.

You should also consider having a presence on LinkedIn, Twitter and Foursquare, depending on your type of business. As you allocate precious time and resources, consider the merit of using existing networks rather than creating your own.

2. Mix the physical with the virtual

If you own a store or a restaurant, consider placing your Twitter name and Facebook page on the back of the menu or displaying it in your retail space. Encourage your customers to engage with your digital self within the physical experience. This is the modern day strategy for customer retention and amplification.

The absolute best time to engage your customers digitally is while they are physically present. Some stores have Twitter hashtags for special events that they produce. Many restaurants offer “tips” or special discounts to their most loyal clientele using Foursquare.

3. Leverage the love that already exists

Social media is most effective when it is used to help amplify the existing positive sentiments that your customers have for your product or service. Gather testimonials from your customers and then post them on your website and, more importantly, your business’s profiles on the various social networks.

When someone posts a positive sentiment on Twitter, consider “retweeting” it so all of your “followers” on Twitter can see the positive feedback you’ve received. Social media can build momentum more easily than it can get things started. As such, look for existing sparks and build on them.

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