toolbox

Tools to Get Started – Social Media for Small Business

As I recently started my own business I went through a list of tasks that will help any business in the planning stages, get started with their social media strategy.  These media outlets cannot be ignored in today’s marketplace.  And success with these outlets starts with taking the time to build carefully from the start.

 A Few Statistics about Social Media

Social Media is an essential tool for today’s small business.  According to the Pew Research Center the growth of Social Media channels continues.  See figures for Total US Population users:

  • 58% Facebook
  • 19% Twitter
  • 21% Instagram
  • 22% Pinterest
  • 23% Linkedin

Tips for Getting Started

If you are a recent startup this article focuses on the tips for getting started.  As you can see there are many social networks to choose from.  It is vital that you understand where your clients or customers are in the social media universe.  Social Media is an investment in time that a small business can see results from in a short period of time.  Everything from SEO to brand building now is generated by your social media strategy.

  1. Choose a Brand or Company name.  These days many people choose their business name based on the research from a keyword planner like https://www.google.com/trends.  Then checking for URL availability at a site like GoDaddy.  There are many reasons and theories to choose a name but practical considerations such as SEO search ability and uniqueness are optimal reasons too.
  2. Know who your clients or customers are and where they are in the social media space.  You shouldn’t sign up for every social media channel if you do not have the time or resources to adequately build them.  Here are a few key questions to ask yourself about which platforms to use.
    1. Consider your budget today’s social media platforms are pay to play and advertising dollars will be essential since organic growth is a thing of the past.
    2. Consider the time that each social channel will take to maintain.  This is an investment in time if it is to be done well.
    3. Have patience each platform will take time to build.
  3. Checking for availability on Social Media channels is also recommended.  Tools like https://www.namecheckr.com/ can help you find a unique name.
  4. Open a special gmail account dedicated solely to your social channels.  One place to see all your social emails.
  5. Signing up for the Social Media channels that you are interested in will require a picture or logo.  A site like https://www.canva.com/ can help you size your pictures or logos.
  6. I recommend getting a new headshot for business purposes as this is the first impression people will get of you or your business.
  7. A company mission statement works well for profile descriptions and taglines should use keywords especially for Linkedin.  A good rule of thumb for writing a mission answers four key questions:
    1. What do we do?
    2. How do we do it?
    3. Whom do we do it for?
    4. What value are we bringing?
  8. Think about how you will generate content.  Ideally 80% of your content should be curated from good sources using http://www.talkwalker.com/alerts or https://feedly.com/.  20% of your content should be original.  Following your industry in trade magazines or http://www.smartbrief.com/ will help you come up with relevant ideas for content.  In addition, all of your branding material, white papers, customer service success stories, etc… can be used repurposed to generate content for your social channels.
  9. Create a Editorial Calendar to organize your thoughts and strategy with regards to your messaging.
  10. Use a scheduler for your social media calendar.  Hootsuite and Buffer can be huge time savers and manage several media channels including your blog and gmail accounts.  In addition, TakeOff and Latergram.me will assist you with Instagram (only on a mobile device.)

Final Thoughts

This has been a brief overview with the steps for getting started with Social Media for your small business.  It is important to know that effort is required to maintain these social channels but the ROI in today’s market is undeniable.  You need to speak with your customers where they happen to find themselves on the web.  And today that could be Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram, Linkedin, Youtube, Foursquare, etc…  And with this toolbox you can get started on the right foot.

Yolanda Ortega
President, Amusing Violet

nut and bolt

The Nuts and Bolts of Managing Instagram

Nuts and Bolts

With over 300 million users and over 5 million photos uploaded each day, Instagram has become a social media outlet that is essential to reach your audience.  Does your strategy include Instagram?  If you know your customers or clients you can begin to tell a story.  Begin by learning what engages your audience and what content will elicit a response.  Then follow the top trends and find the message of the day that is the right fit for your brand.  You can use between 30-50 hashtags on each post, but do the research, they should be the hashtags that balance popularity and relevance.  Then you want to use great content.  It is obvious your followers want to see great things.  Original and authentic content is best.  To spice things up, you can run contests and quizzes just to engage the audience on another level.

When the strategy and tactics are in place there are a few tools that can help you with the nuts and bolts of posting, managing, engaging and measuring your Instagram success.

First step is to set-up the tools on your phone or tablet.  You can’t at this point access Instagram from a desktop so the work may seem more difficult but I’ve set-up short-cuts to make like easier.  Download these free apps to make great use of your Instagram (Hint: keep them on the same page on your phone or tablet): 

  • Instaquote
    • allows users to type text whether original or quoted
    • allows users to credit authors
  • Photogrid
    • allows users to create photo grids, scrapbooks, photo edit, create templates, filmstrips from photos on your cell or photos from Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, Dropbox, Google image
    • allows users to share to Instagram, Google+ Facebook, Twitter, etc..and most importantly Takeoff (see below)
  • RePost
    • allows users to repost content from Instagram to their followers with their own hashtags
    • only allows users to RePost in real time
  • TagsForLikes
    • allows users to pick a category so that they can see a list of pre-written hashtags and copy and paste
  • Dropbox, Google Docs
    • allows users to drop a convenient list of #hashtages they have pre-written and then just copy and paste.
    • Drop photos into Dropbox for easy access to your phone apps
  • Takeoff
    • allows users to schedule Instagram posts ahead of time from apps such as Photogrid and Instaquote  (Because of Instagram’s Terms the app does not post for you.  TakeOff pings your phone or tablet at the pre-set time to post. Then just push a few buttons to post to Instagram.)
    • gives users suggested #hashtags
  • Iconosquare
    • Provides basic metrics to measure your success on Instagram

Working with photos and graphics are a time consuming chore.  However, with these free apps you can create great content for your Instagram account.

Finally, if you’ve done it all correctly your fans will do the sharing of content.  In addition, you should showcase the best of the UGC user generated content to appreciate your followers and encourage engagement.  Was this blog useful?

Homework:  Schedule your Instagram posts for the week using each app!

Yolanda Ortega
President, Amusing Violet