“Ready or not, here I come!” As in the classic children’s game Hide and Seek, someone is looking for you – are you ready? Can customers find your business in the “social” marketplace?

There are countless tools for promoting your business – from T-shirts, pens and business cards to billboards and local event sponsorships. Online, there are websites, landing pages, search engine optimization (SEO), pay per click ads and, now, social media.

Yes, the online world has gone “social.” With increasing numbers of users on these platforms every day (across age ranges!), it appears they are here to stay. Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, LinkedIn and Pinterest are among the most popular. Each of these provides new opportunities for your customers to “find” you (and for you to find them) every day.

Here are some practical tips for getting the most benefit from social media for your business:

1. Employ a strategy. Start by answering questions such as these:

  • What do I want to achieve by using social media?
  • Whose attention am I trying to get?
  • What platforms best suit my business?
  • Who is going to manage my social media accounts?

2. Develop a consistent, effective voice or style that is applicable to each platform. Examples of how to tailor your posts for some of the most popular networks include:

  • Facebook, Google+ – Short posts, especially visually oriented
  • Twitter – Status updates, links and media alerts/announcements
  • LinkedIn – Commentary on relevant books/posts, professional achievements, recent work projects; professional networking
  • StumbleUpon – Share sites/pages you like, in addition to your own
  • Pinterest – Visual posts, especially retail and women focused

3. Check out your competition. What are your competitors posting on their social media sites? What seems to be working (or not) for them? Pay attention to the following:

  • Are customers active (posting, responding) on their sites?
  • What types of posts are receiving the most attention and response?
  • Can you do something similar on your own pages (without plagiarizing)?

4. Become a source for valuable, relevant information. Stay up to date on trends in your industry so you can report timely news and updates. Becoming a “go-to” page for the latest and greatest in your field will help you earn more “likes,” “fans” and “retweets.” When sharing content from another site, give credit where credit is due. And make a habit of @tagging people/businesses in your posts. In return they are more likely to do the same for you.

5. Customize content (when it will not violate copyright). Take advantage of free tools (such as one for Windows platform users available at getpaint.net) to edit images, adding your company web address or a custom message.

6. Add a description. When posting or sharing an image, photo or video, add a personal, keyword-rich description in the comments. Always credit the content creators.

7. Be engaging. Post “happy birthday” wishes to employees and friends; say congrats on weddings, anniversaries, promotions, etc. Recognizing special occasions and accomplishments gives opportunities for friends and followers to engage by adding their own well wishes. Personal engagement such as this gives a human voice to your social media pages.

8. Use the Facebook upload option. Uploading a post (such as a video) directly to Facebook can help your pages earn a higher rating on EdgeRank, the algorithm that determines what is displayed on your fans/friends pages. (Choose this option over listing a URL on your page from a post on Vimeo or YouTube, for example.) Add a good description of your post to make it personal.

9. Thank post originators when you share content. Add a note thanking the person/page that first posted a shared quote, image or video. This courtesy generates good will and cooperation among your social network.

10. Be authentic. Social media platforms are designed for real interaction among real people. Though an algorithm establishes ranking, people decide whether or not to “like” or “follow” you. Think of social media interactions on your pages like networking; build relationships by consistent, frequent participation and prompt responses to comments and questions. Auto-posting sites such as TweetDeck and Hootsuite or Facebook’s scheduling feature help you manage your participation; they’re no substitute for interactions with your fans/followers. Choose a posting frequency you can maintain consistently over time.

11. Use signposting. An important element for your online strategy, signposting is linking to your website in your social media posts. This helps drive traffic to your site.

Employ these “how to’s” to keep customers and potential customers finding your business online and improve your return from your social media accounts. If you have questions about social media and your business, contact Raleigh’s Page Progressive. We would be glad to help you win at the social media game of “hide and seek.” 🙂