I field questions 3-5 times a week from small businesses and past colleagues who ask not ‘why’ to begin exploring in Social Media, but ‘how’ to start building their presence & voice. They aren’t looking for strategy guidance so much as they just want a simple Quick Start guide of easy steps to follow to help them get going. I’ll leave the ‘why’ to the Real SM Gurus (heh), but I figure since I offer this advice so often off line, perhaps it will be useful to others on line. This is Part One in a short post series I’ll offer on SM Quick Start for small businesses and individuals so when the phone rings with questions, you & I both can just point folks here.
Regardless if you’ve already got your objectives fully outlined or not, small businesses and people can begin with these simplified steps to establish a presence. Gather what you’ll need first to ensure consistency and ease when you start registering on sites:
If you do not already have a company or blog site, create one. There are many free options like WordPress, Tumblr, Google Sites or Blogger. This is a larger topic, but it is crucial that you have a destination for people to find out more about you and your services. This is a good post for starter blogging guidance for small companies.
Write at lease one post – doesn’t have to be long – that illustrates your ability, interest, products or services.
Create a short description about your company or services. Try to limit this to 2-3 paragraphs at most. This will be used for Social Media Profiles and should include top keywords for searching. (i.e. mine includes E20, Enterprise, SCRM which are areas of specialty)
Create an even shorter description of less than 140 characters that will be used as a tag line of sorts.
Pick one email address for yourself or the company that you will use on SM profiles. This address should be one that you check frequently for activation instructions, notifications and connection invites.
Select a small graphic logo or picture that will be a visual representation of your brand, seen on your profile & alongside posts & tweets. Many sites have size limitations, so pick one that is less than 700k in size and no more than 140 X 140 pixels.
Select an ID or ‘brand handle’ that you will use across multiple channels. It will save you many steps & frustration later if you search for availability first. You can test it out on these sites, which also offer services in Social Media ID protection (for an example, type in ThoughtElf):
Create a LinkedIn profile or edit your current profile to ensure that it is fully complete and up-to-date. The LinkedIn Learning Site offers user guides, tips to help you get started.
Note that the two most important sections on a LinkedIn profile are your profile headline (under your name) & the summary. These are where the ‘SEO’ of LinkedIn happens when people search for you or your services. Put your keywords here.
You can opt to add widgets to link your blog url & twitter account. I suggest that you do to initiate further traffic & content sharing.
Creating a twitter profile is very straight forward, but you may wish to pay close attention to twitter notifications. As a new user, I’d suggest you turn on notifications for both new followers & direct messages to begin with until you get the hand of checking these daily. This will ensure that you don’t inadvertently ignore important messages or companies & people you’d like to connect with further.
Make sure you complete the Profile section including your blog link & bio – the short description you created in ‘Basic Steps’ above.
Search a few colleagues, customers & competitors to follow to start learning and discovering new content and how others are using Twitter (more on this in a future post in the series)
Send out a witty tweet announcing your presence.
Facebook is a bit more complicated if you are planning to have a business profile. If you’ve already got a standard FB account, it is a violation of the terms of service to have multiple accounts, so you can only create a company page in that instance, not an entirely new profile. See this link for explanation & details.
The key aspect of creating either a personal or company fan page on Facebook is the privacy settings which control which users can see your profile or pages, and what they can do on each (i.e. leave comments and start discussions). I can’t stress it strongly enough that this should be well thought out and carefully managed.
Here is a very simple guide for creating your Facebook presence, including a company page.
Start Being Social
Now that you’ve established a very basic presence on key social media channels, start sharing. Post links in each of the channels inviting people to visit your blog or company site to share ideas, comments and opinions. Talk about and point people towards other blogs or persons of interest. And don’t get frustrated if you get little response to begin with. It takes time to build an audience for your brand or business, and to establish your presence out there on line. We’ll cover steps to do so in a later post in this series.
In the mean time, pat yourself on the back for taking the first steps and feel free to pose questions in the comments.
3 Responses to 'Quick Start for Small Business – Creating Your Initial Social Media Footprint'
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on January 10, 2011 on 1:26 am
[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Marcio Saito and Robert Lavigne, Kelly Craft. Kelly Craft said: I get umipty calls a week from small biz asking not why to get into SM, but how to begin. Started a series to answer: http://bit.ly/eGxDry [...]
Thank you for your informative posting – this information will be of particular interest to BaseKit business users looking to build their online presence. Getting socially involved online can be an undertaking but your tips help make it simple.
Great job of giving people what they want, but not necessarily what they need (we often have to get that far to move further).
So to address the what they need, did you mention that they likely could do all of this and still fail — but that they shouldn’t see it as a message of giving up or it’s not right to do it at all?
This is just the beginning. This marks a path of fundamental business change — changing nearly everything about they way they can and do operate. Businesses unprepared for this level of change will fail. Engaging in this sort of activity, by default requires a commitment to such fundamental business change. Sadly, often those who are given both the authority and the funding to do this are only given this with ‘rights of appendage’ — a clamp-on to the business, but not something fully integrated into it as a mechanism for growth (which implies change — ‘growth’ that might even imply ‘less’).
In 1955 Marshall McLuhan said (with some editorial liberties): “when…a society evolves a new medium like [social media] it has earned the right to express a new message…this new message is a threat to the old message or medium [and its host].” The medium fundamentally changes the conversation and what can be discussed and how it can be discussed. Effectively, social media is a ‘do it yourself kit’ for the consumer. The business now has to morph to meet a reality where consumers with this sort of ‘authority’ have shifted ALL the dynamics of doing business.
Hardly a business who steps forward to engage in this activity realizes the Pandora’s box they are about to open. But, they have no choice. There is no option not to open the box. It has already been opened elsewhere. It is now the ‘low bar’ of continuing to play in the business playground.