Quick Start for Small Business – Creating Your Initial Social Media Footprint

 

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.

The Basics

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):
  • You may wish to have several ID’s – one for the business and one personal, but that is a whole ‘nother post. Regardless, same requirements apply.

Once you’ve created/selected the materials above, you’re ready to move on to the next step.

Creating an Initial Presence in Social Media Channels

Before devising a long-term strategy for your social media efforts and objectives, I highly suggest reading @thejordanrules ‘Which Social Media Channels Should You Be Using? (business)’ &/or ‘Which Social Media Channels Should You Be Using? (personal)‘ to help decide which channels would be best for your goals, but it is a safe bet that most will benefit by registering (and locking in) their ID on the Top Three channels immediately: LinkedIn, Twitter & Facebook.

(Note: In each instance, once you have created your profile, you will have to respond to an email to activate the account.)

LinkedIn

  • www.linkedin.com
  • 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.
  • If you also have a company, create a LinkedIn company profile

Twitter

  • www.twitter.com
  • 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

  • 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.

How an Absolute Nobody hit a 71% Klout Score

On Matter, Mentors, Mentions & Manners…

Upwards & Onwards
It’s about engaging more, not increasing Klout

With recent chatter about Klout revising their measurement algorithm, I’m going to share some thoughts on interacting more while adding value, versus hanging out on SM channels, trying to ‘build your personal brand’.

When I started being active online in twitter, I had a klout score of 1. I had no idea if that was 1st or last (we’re #1,) but after learning and settling into  my own comfort zone, a friend pointed out today that my klout was 17 gazillion! ;>
I’ve taken some justified teasing as a result from fun (and wise) folks because my score is now higher than some genuine Thought Leaders. I’ve had a good laugh along with them, as while it is flattering, it has had no direct impact (yet) on my ability to trade it in on a wondrous new gig in my field.

I’ve also taken some snark recently from long time friends in real-life. “Yeah, I noticed some have higher scores though they don’t ‘work’ to engage like you do.”  mmm-kay…

Some think that the algorithm (and new version) used is utterly skewed if a relative nobody can hit high, and others note the true value of influence ratings are still an unknown; neither of which concerns me much one way or the other right now, but has made me think about the things I’ve done differently since my early days on twitter when my score was -17 gazillion.

Let’s turn this into a learning experience for those who do think there is merit in a higher Klout score.  Or better yet, maybe it will simply help someone out there improve their own ability to influence ideas or learn more about their profession through Social Media efforts.

(I hope this doesn’t come across as a vanity post, as my goal here is to share lessons learned forward as a person, not a self-proclaimed pundit of any sort. I get so much out of Social Media, personally & professionally that I can’t help but share.)

It won’t work if you’re working it…

Every social media maven out there will tell you the key to success is being genuine and having a truly authentic voice.  And they’re absolutely right.  Some of the stuff I’ll share below probably sounds like I work at it, but the reality is that I’m simply sharing the content that matters to me in my own efforts to increase my knowledge about things I’m interested in. I’m studying anyway, so it is only a few clicks more to put it out for others’ benefit.

It also really helps if you find a channel you love. I often see people starting out in social media and spreading themselves too thin on too many channels. I think that dilutes your message, and eventually, it would feel like work.  Think about your normal communication style off-line.  Are you a writer, speaker, photographer, or an artist? That will help you figure out where to focus your efforts. This is a great example of a Personal Social Media policy that clearly outlines which channels a friend uses, how & why.

In my case, that Klout score is almost entirely from twitter.  I never use FaceBook, only seldom comment on blog posts, and my addition to group discussions is also less frequent than it should be.  Hell, I don’t even blog (which is another blog in itself for another day). For me, Twitter suits my real world style best – I’m a talker, so engaging in real-time, fast-paced conversations and idea exchanges is not only comfortable, it’s natural and fun.

Regardless of the inaccuracies or flaws in Klout’s system, I’ll admit I am interested in this part of my score, because at the end of the day, I’m just being me. My goal is to meet and interact with new people, as well as those I already know and respect.

“Kelly Craft generates actions and discussions with nearly every message.”

I hope that is right, because it means I’ve done what I set out to do in the first place: I’m learning, sharing my knowledge, and part of discussions, not just spamming a bunch of one-way push crap. It implies that I am getting the true value of twitter.

If I have attained any degree of success, it’s because of …

Matter, Mentors, Mentions & Manners…

As I said, I use twitter more for my own selfish desires, gaining a free education from brighter minds, rather than ‘gaming the system’ to build the ‘Irreverent @krcraft Brand’. 

In my pursuit of an ideal learning/sharing experience, I guess I do use a few ‘tricks’ to make it less work to find quality content. I’ve posted a bit about this before, but I’ll be more specific below.

  • iGoogle rocks! My iGoogle is my start page and command central of my learning hub. From here, I can feed my passion with access to the Best and Brightest Minds that are Mentors, whether they know so, or not. Links to ‘must read’ blogs and favourite discussion groups are only a click away with constantly fresh brain fodder. I check in often throughout the day for new posts, and if I find one that makes me think, I share it in a tweet.
Command Central
  • I also have specific Google news & blog alerts set up to advise me when there is breaking news about Enterprise 2.0. Even so, I also check manually for updates several times a day, always selecting news in the ‘last 24 hours’ to ensure that I’m not posting the same-old, same-old that a million others have posted that day.
  • I follow many of those same expert bloggers on twitter, too.  In fact, they have their own ‘must read’ column in Tweetdeck, which is the first one  I look to for information I want to learn and discussions I want to jump in on. They’re also on a separate ‘stimulators’ Twitter list, which makes it all the easier to share their value forward.
You can’t just randomly RT everything that Thought Leaders/Influencers/Fun Farts post. 
  • I never post any link – ever – that I haven’t first read. What’s the point? And how do you know if it is truly valuable, controversial, or has nuggets of knowledge gold? How do you know if you even have an opinion on the content, or not, if you don’t bother to care before you share?
  • I’ll admit I’m even more thirsty for new ideas than most, as I find many sources for new knowledge (and content) by clicking on the links within those blog posts. ‘Oh the places you’ll go… ‘ that you’d otherwise miss altogether if you tweet like a robot.
  • If you read something particularly clever, favourite it and recycle it now & then for new followers to appreciate and in hopes of renewed discussions.
  • Twitter Chats are also a lively way to learn, engage and discover new people you want to hang with & learn from on-line.  Check out this list of chats to see if there is one that piques your interest or a passion.
    • I don’t recommend participating in more than 2-3 chats per week, otherwise you may find your followers becoming unfollowers due to the flurry of tweets that aren’t their cup of tea, but carefully selecting one or two chats is a certain way to introduce yourself and be introduced, to others who care about whatever it is that tweaks your brain.
    • As with the Must Read group, I do the same thing when I am in a chat.  After watching for a few weeks, it is easy to see who the leaders are, the ones that are expert voices. They’re also in a column of their own, with the #whatever in another.  Sounds cliquish, but I simply don’t want to miss their opinions in the flurry.
    • That doesn’t mean that you only engage with ‘Board Leaders’, like a snotty mercenary. If you do it right, you monitor key notes and discussions around the topic and share/forward them to less experienced participants and your own followers who might not be part of the chat.
  • On Mentions and Manners… this is a really easy one to screw up, and I still struggle with it myself – and here is why:
    • Gratuitous mentions or RT’s of someone high-profile or influential for the sake of looking like one of the ‘cool kids’ bugs me enormously.
    • Which is not to say that I never mention someone who has those attributes, but I’d like to think I only do so when they’ve shared something I appreciate, or when making an actual comment to them, in discussion or as an aside.
    • I follow many influential folks, just like others, but I usually only directly @ them if we’ve already got some sort of existing relationship via previous conversations, events, chats, introductions, or discussion groups.
    • If you really want to raise someone’s profile, why not pick someone new to your twibe who seems bright &/or funny, then draw them out in a conversation about something interesting they said or shared? >Buildup as yet unknown influencers – don’t just follow the usual suspects and hope they’ll beam a little benevolent attention your way.
  • I panic every time I sit to send out my ‘thanks’ for mentions & RT’s.  I’m always worried I’ll forget someone who was particularly kind, and hurt feelings inadvertently. That said, I’ve also come to learn that it is almost impossible to thank every person, every day, for every bit of kindness or lively talk.
  • Some of the people who ‘influence’ me the most are the ones I thank least often.  We’re friends, or study-buddies in this big social world, and they already know I value them greatly, simply because we connect when & where ever for facts, fancy & fun.
    • I’ve tailored my thanks tweets to make certain to appreciate those who reached out or shared unexpectedly, encouraging further interaction.
  • I’ll also bust the ‘secret’ vault wide-open and admit I’m not a fan of #followfriday in many respects.
    • Truth be told, I really don’t want a bunch of random new followers who I might not share any common interest with.
    • Likewise, it is always very uncomfortable for me on Fridays when I know I’ll hurt some feelings by not reciprocating full #FF lists on which I might have been included.  I don’t necesssarily know all of these people, so be damned if I’ll ‘promote’ them just because someone else suggests it.
    • I like to think of #FF lists as I would think of hashtags I follow.  For example, there are #custserv folks I will consistently recommend be followed, because I know others can & will benefit from their insight and expertise. Likewise with #E20 & #scrm, which I’ll include at the end of the #FF tweet so that others know these folks have specific areas of interest & knowledge.
    • I’d like to see #FF go in an entirely new direction altogether. It’d be great if instead of pushing out random #FF’s each week, people made one or two direct introductions between other professionals in their field, people passionate about the same cause, or picked a favourite charity to promote on Fridays. We can all do that every day, but it’d be especially nice to see Friday’s stream full of some fresh changes with high value, and less guilt. ;> 

If you want to have more influence, be more influential. Have a clear, focused voice about what drives you. Increase your signal with fresh content. Share content only if you truly have an opinion on it or learned something from it. Pay attention to only the ‘cool kids’ who have something to say that actually resonates with you personally. And give the (allegedly) less cool kids a leg up in their own Social Media efforts.

Most of all, be your own self, whether it be driven, focused, funny or a snark monster.  You’ll find your footing, and others you want to meet will find you.

It’s only work if it isn’t genuine.

What am I missing?  What methods do you use to add value to your own Social Media efforts?

Secret Sources

If you’re like me and are more of a tech #e20 news aggregator than a true voice, it is important to make an extra effort to find fresh, relevant content for your feed.  In being a good follower, you can also be a link leader. These are a few secret sources often overlooked in favour of easily retweeting other’s finds or work:

  • As you read an interesting blog post, take the time to click through and read the linked articles.  This is one of the simplest ways to find topical research, stats & stories.
  • This often leads to adding content-rich additions to your RSS feeds, resulting in fresh material for future discussion and sharing.
  • If you enjoy a slide presentation, subscribe to the author and traipse through their old presentations.  You’ll often find nuggets of gold.
  • Set up Google News alerts on your area of ability or interest.
  • If you enjoy a particular new follower, read through at least three of their blog articles.
  • Do an image search on ‘infographics’. When you find a graphic that really speaks to the topic, click to the host source and read the articles that go along with it.
  • Start a discussion with the source or retweeter of a an interesting read.  Often, this will lead to a further exchange of ideas and content.
  • If an article posted six months ago still resonates, don’t be afraid to recycle it for fresh followers.

Even if you aren’t a visionary voice, you can still be a valuable resource for knowledge in your field.  Just be an active participant in creative engagement -> it was often said that ‘timing is everything’. In these days of fast and furious feeds, the new cry is ‘content is everything’.

What sources do you use daily beyond your own feed?

Intermission is Over – And A Twitter Homecoming

I never did get around to putting up the message that I would be

for an extended span of months, but I’m chuffed being on the other side of the intermission.  My first twenty-four hours back in the zone have been filled with inspiration, tasty brain candy, laughter and a surprisingly warm Twitter homecoming. When I opened TweetDeck for the first time in months to play catch-up, little did I know the treasures I’d find. 

The first gem was in learning that @BlogBrevity, a Thought Leader DJ, will be speaking at TWTRCon SF10. Angela is a powerful communicator who understands crowd concepts and conversations – they’re lucky to have her. 

It was stimulating to also check in with @Brainzooming, a guy worth his weight in diamonds when it comes to inspiration, especially when I need a rocket tied to my behind to get back to blogging. Mike oozes creativity writing about or sharing juicy goodies that feed all of my pet passions like collaboration, innovation and dryer lint. Never a dull moment learning more about corporate strategy, or discussing spray-tanning’s impact on the love of the colour orange. 

I’d forgotten just how much I enjoy Twitter and the exchange of ideas with people like Angela and Mike, plus many other interesting brains like these sparkling jewels that I follow:

Damn it’s good to back among the living, and the sharing.  Catching up on my feed was like walking into Aladdin’s cave.  Riches in heaps & piles!