Your Social Media Platform 

Believe it or not, you DO NOT have to be on social media to build a business. There are some people with multi-million dollar businesses that do not even have a social media account. It can be done.

But why not be where your audience is engaging with others. Wouldn’t it be great to find a room where all the people you are targeting are gathered in one place. Social media is that room. Your competition is also in the room. So be aware.

Setting Up Your Account

The first thing you will need to do is set up your social media platform. Eah platform has it’s minor differences, but in general…

Avatar (or headshot). DO NOT use your logo unless you are UPS, Target or some other well-known brand. People need to see you. They need to see the face of the company.

Create a cover image. This is the large image at the top of the page. You can use Canva to create your cover image. Canva is an online graphic design platform that allows you to create custom images for your social media platforms and more. They actually have pre-sized images for use on social media. I will not get into specifics on image sizes as they change periodically. So just do a search on, for example, Facebook Cover Image size to get the dimensions.

Create great bio or about content. Even though it says bio or about on the social media platform, you do not have to place your great accomplishments in this section. This section gives you an opportunity to let your audience know the benefits of engaging with you on this particular platform or letting them know about how your business benefits them. You don’t have much space to accomplish this, but it will be time well spent to create something great for your bio/about section.

Post something before asking people to Like your Page or follow you on social media. There is nothing worse than going to someone’s page and finding they haven’t posted anything, don’t have a headshot, no cover image, or no bio. Very unprofessional.

So create 5 – 10 posts before asking anyone to follow you on social media. As long as you are posting interesting content on your social media, you will gain followers and people will engage with you. Again, it is no different from any other media. If you have the right people following you on social media, you will start getting shares, Likes and engagement for your posts.

How often to post

Don’t stress over this. Once per day is good if that works for you. Even if you can only post once per week, that is a start. The main thing is to get started and develop the habit of posting on a consistent basis. If you post once per week, then pick a day and post something, for example, every Wednesday at 10:00 in the morning.

Some platforms lend themselves to more frequent posting. Posting to Twitter 10 times or 50 times per day may be okay and help you build your brand. Posting to Facebook or Instagram more than once or twice per day could become annoying to your followers. A couple of times per week on LinkedIn will probably be sufficient. Use your own judgment. Track your results – Likes, Shares, and Comments. See what people like and don’t like about what you are posting and the frequency of your posting. Marketing 101 – test, test, test.

You can use scheduling tools to schedule your posts in advance. I use Hootsuite, but there are many options available. Hootsuite is free for up to 3 social media profiles. Some of the other options are – Buffer, Sprout Social, Sendible, MeetEdgar, and CoSchedule. Most offer either a free trial or demo, so you can try a few to find the one that works best for you and your business.

Getting people to your platform

One of the best strategies you can implement is combining social media with email marketing. Taking people from property you don’t own (social media) to property you do own (your email list). Find a way to convert your Likes on your Facebook Page to an email address in your own contact management system. You can use a professional email service provider such as Constant Contact or Convertkit. Then if you get shut down by Facebook or whoever, you still have your list of contacts.

If you send a monthly newsletter, include your social media icons linking to your social media platforms in your email newsletter.

Include your social media in any direct mail pieces you send. But make sure you do more than just say “Follow us on Facebook”. As I mentioned previously, it’s easy to set up a vanity URL (web address). Something like facebook.com/smalltowndentistry is much better than Facebook’s convoluted URL for your page. Then in your direct mail piece, you can direct them to a specific page rather than just telling them to visit your Facebook Page without a solid URL.

Make sure any social media platforms you are using get placed on your website.

Tell everyone you meet to Like your Facebook Page, follow you on Instagram or Twitter. Again, pick one to be your main platform. Ask them which social media platforms they use.

Place an image on all your posts. Studies have shown a post with an image is much more likely to attract engagement than one without an image. This applies to all platforms with the possible exception of Twitter which is more text based.

You can run Ads on Facebook to get more Facebook Likes. There are many options for getting Facebook Like, but I am a fan of building your following organically. If you are doing all the above, posting great content, and engaging with your audience, you will have success with your chosen social media platform.

 I made the mistake of listening to a social media ‘guru’ and followed their strategy for getting a lot of Facebook Likes. The strategy worked very well…too well. I got around 8,000 Likes on my Page using their strategy, but 90% of them were useless. Wrong audience. Then I spent time getting rid of most of them.

Some may say if you have thousands of followers, then it gives you social credibility. Having a cover photo of you standing in front of a Mercedes (you don’t own or can’t afford) or standing in front of a private plane may give you credibility also. But I’m not into “smoke and mirrors” marketing.

I would rather have a few hundred Likes on my Facebook Page with people who are engaged with my content than to have thousands who could care less about what I’m posting.

The same thing applies to social media as applies to every other media you may use. Target market! Build your Likes with raving fans, not Likes for the sake of having a lot of Likes.

Keep in mind you are building on someone else’s platform when using social media. If they decide to shut you down for whatever reason, it is hit or miss as to whether or not you will get the issue resolved to their satisfaction.

I have mentioned this several times in the past…you must own your stuff! Don’t depend on someone else’s platform for all your business and all your leads.  The phrase “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” really applies here.

Which platform is right for you?

The simple answer to this question is it depends where your target market spends most of their time. Do a little research to discover the demographics for each platform. Do they match your target market demographics? If not, choose another platform.

Don’t listen to your friends telling you that you should be on this platform or that platform. They don’t know your business as well as you do. And what works for them may be a waste of time for you. So do your own research and find the right one for you and your business.

Here are a few of the main social media platforms you may consider.

You do not want to start on all these platforms. Do some research and find where your audience is most likely to engage. And you may find multiple platforms. But pick one. Pick one platform and become comfortable using the one platform. Then once you are posting consistently, getting some engagement, and growing your followers…pick another platform.

Facebook was started in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg. Now with around 2.6 billion users worldwide, it has become the largest of all the social media platforms. Facebook advertising is still a great way to drive traffic to your landing page or website. As you know, video rules in today’s world. Facebook Live is a great way to each your audience. Also, Facebook prefers you keep personal and business separated. So it’s best to create your personal profile, then create a Facebook Page for your business. Facebook Groups is a way to build a tribe of like-minded people around your business or brand. Overall, it is a business tool that could help you grow your business it it’s used the right way.

Instagram was started in 2010 by Kevin Systrom. Now with around 112.5 million users, the popularity of Instagram has soared in recent years. Since it is more of a visual platform that Facebook or some of the others, it’s a great way to share images and videos.

Twitter was founded in 2006 by Jack Dorsey. Twitter now boast over 330 million users. Twitter is more of a text based app. Because it’s a text based app ad you are encouraged to post multiple times per day (some people posting 40 – 50 times per day), it is a great platform for branding your business.

Pinterest was started in 2010 by co-founders Ben Silbermann, Evan Sharp, and Paul Sciarra. Pinterest now has over 416 million users. As with Facebook, Pinterest has a business side and a personal side. Go to business.pinterest.com to view the business side and set up an account for your business. With a business Pinterest account, you have access to a few analytics that will help you track the results. Go to pinterest.com for your personal account. You can link your business Pinterest account with your personal account.

LinkedIn founded by Reid Hoffman in 2002. LinkedIn now has around 610 million users. It’s main use has been linking professionals. People make connections for jobs and business. I am seeing more and more musicians and creative types on LinkedIn. You will find people with higher incomes on LinkedIn than any of the other platforms. So that’s something to keep in mind.

LinkedIn has a paid version also. Most people will get everything they need with the free version. You can create a LinkedIn business Page. In addition to regular posts, you can post articles in LinkedIn to share your expertise. Sharing content is the best way to become a trusted authority in your field, so using LinkedIn in this way could be good for business.

It’s a great platform to make business connections, but be careful how you approach people when requesting to connect with them. Never ask for anything or try to sell anything. The best way to approach someone on LinkedIn is to first read through their profile to see if there are any common interests, organizations you are both involved in, or anything else interesting you can find. Share something that may appeal to them when asking for a connection.

YouTube is an online Video platform started in 2005 by Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim (3 former PayPal employees). Anything you want to know, learn, or see is probably on YouTube. My neighbor built a small raised garden. She told me she had never built anything before in her life and found everything she needed on YouTube. Just followed the instructions.

So this is another opportunity for you to share valuable information by making videos that inform and educate your audience. You probably have everything you need – a smartphone. All you need to do is set up a YouTube channel, download the YouTube app to your smart phone, and start creating. Then upload the finished product to YouTube.

Google owns YouTube, so if you have a Gmail account, you can use that to login to YouTube and you won’t even have to set up a separate account.

This information should get you started on your social media journey. In future posts, I will be going into more detail on each platform with strategies for using them to grow your business.

All the best,

Mike Coleman