Social media is a huge area of marketing, and a vital part of your marketing if you are running a business – but just where do you start? What platforms do you choose? What do you share? How do you begin?

Here’s a key thing to understand right from the off: you don’t have to be on everything. It’s a really common misconception and a lot of customers come to me in a stress that they need to be seen everywhere. No! Concentrate on where your audience is – they might be in more than one place, but at the end of the day it’s better for you to be doing one platform very well, than struggling to keep on top of 3 or 4 and not providing your audience with quality content.

Getting Started

First, you need to understand where you audience is. This requires a bit of market research, ask around, figure out which platforms will likely work better for you. For example, holiday accommodation will often find Facebook a great platform to use and promote their business, while service-based (B2B) businesses might find Twitter works better for creating conversations and building networks.

If you look back at May 2019, I wrote very briefly about the top platforms to look at, the article will give you an idea about them if you haven’t used them before. These would be Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Pinterest, but there’s other contenders out there too.

Don’t be afraid to ask your personal network where they are, and what they do on social media. Do they use Facebook to shop? Or perhaps they use Instagram to discover new products? Are they on Pinterest?

Setting Up

Once you’ve chosen your platform(s) of choice, you’ll need to set up your new accounts! On Facebook this will be a page, while on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest (other social media platforms do exist), it will be a profile.

The important thing to remember is to optimise everything as much as you can. Spend time going through all of the options and information – about, contact information, profile photo, cover photo and soon so that visitors get to know you straight away.

My big top tip during your set up is to make sure your username is the same across the platforms too, it’s important to be consistent if you’re setting up on more than one social media platform.

Be Prepared

I highly encourage you to prepare and plan before you dive into posting – this comes from years of experience and working with a range of clients who come to me a bit lost!

How can you prepare? Depending on your level of confidence and knowledge on social media, it could just be a case of brushing up on some skills by reading some blogs and latest news of the platforms. If you’re not so confident, then you could look at a training session with a local company.

Once you’re happy and know how you’re going to get going, you need to prepare some sort of a content plan.

Content Planning

Many companies and many blogs online will tell you that content planning is key when it comes to posting on social media. And yes, it is. To an extent.

I have always found that having an idea of the content I want to share over the course of a month is very handy, and it also really helps when it comes to those days where you have a complete block of ideas. On the other hand, if you make a content plan too rigid, you can’t allow for news, spontaneous posts, personalisation.

There’s a balance to be had, and it’s something I believe you find with your own instinct the longer you do social media for your business. You also need to keep your audience in mind too, because if you see a post that would be of interest to them, you could share it if your content plan allows.

What I would do is brainstorm at the start of each week or month some ideas that you WANT to post about. At some point over the course of that week or month, you will get that posts out but you can be a bit more fluid about it. I tend to brainstorm around 2 or 3 posts a week for Facebook, which allows me enough flexibility for those additional posts.

Remember – it’s Social Media

It may sound obvious, but remember that it is social media so it’s not all “sell sell sell”. You have to treat your social media like a shop, and engage with your customers. It’s a perfect opportunity to  create relationships and networks, show off your personality and beliefs and grow a community around your brand. Depending on the platforms you choose, there will be different ways of doing this, so make sure you are part of that.