The Beginning: How To Get Started on Social Media in 4 Steps

In a day and age where not being on social media is an anomaly, it’s hard to think of a brand or business who hasn’t dipped its toe in the social waters. Believe it or not, they do exist. And for those brands, making the jump onto social media can be a scary thought. Where do you start? Do you need an account on every social network? You can pin things online? What does boosting a Facebook post mean?! OH GOSH.fearful emoji If this internal panic sounds familiar, we would advise you to first take a deep breath. Social media is an extension of your brand, and it can be a pretty darn good one if you do the work necessary to plan. The rest of this post will walk through four major steps you should take when getting started on social media. Follow these, and this new adventure will be much easier. We promise.

Step 1: Know Your Audience. It seems like every PR and marketing initiative starts with this step, but there’s a good reason for that. Without defining your audience, you’re running the risk of wasting your time creating content that is completely irrelevant to the people you want to reach. Take the time to build out your personas. What are the 3-5 types of people you’re targeting? What industry do they work in? What job titles do they have? What topics are they interested in? This information is available in tools like Google Analytics and other sales data. Part of knowing your audience is finding your audience. You may have a large audience on LinkedIn and absolutely no audience on Pinterest. In that case, you can place more focus on growing your LinkedIn page versus scraping the barrel on Pinterest.

Step 2: Set Up Your Channels. Now that you know who your audience is and where they’re hanging out online, it’s time to move on to creating your accounts. While this is a fairly straightforward process, it’s important to cover all the bases – from securing a username to setting up your branding. First, let’s start with the username. If all goes well, the username you’re hoping to use should be available. In some cases, the name you want may already be taken. Some networks will help you with this situation. For example, if someone is using your brand name as their Twitter handle, you can file a Trademark Violation Report that will flag it to the Twitter team. You can find out more on their processes within their Inactive Account Policy.

To get started with this step easily, try typing your desired social media handle into NameChk.com. It’ll tell you what’s available and what isn’t. (don’t worry, you don’t have to be on EVERY social network, just the ones that matter to your audience from step 1)

 

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Once you have your account set up, you’ll want to make sure each channel is branded appropriately. Each social network varies in its presentation and size of the graphics that make up the design that showcases your brand. Choose or create something eye-catching and appealing – yet still embodying your brand. Represent yourself visually in any header and profile photos, don’t try to rock out with that cute little egg icon. Complete your profile, make it easy for people to get back to your home channel (website, blog, landing page) and find the information that makes you worth paying attention to.

Step 3: Define Your Content. Content is going to be what fuels your social channels and keeps people coming back for more. Take the time to think about the types of content that will be valuable to the audience you’ve identified. You should have an idea about what content your audience is interested in and use that to build out a calendar to serve as a roadmap. This will help you plan around any important dates (be it holidays or company milestones) and avoid struggling for ideas as your program continues. A big part of this step is establishing what your voice. Are you going to be business focused or will you take a lighter, comedic approach? Remember: at the end of the day, you’ll be engaging with other people, so one voice you should always avoid sounding as if you are a robot or clearing everything through corporate communications.

Step 4: Be Consistent. Your main pieces are all set. You know your audience; you have your channels set up; and your content ready to roll. The last step – which can sometimes be the hardest – is to be consistent across all channels. Social media isn’t a once-in-awhile job (nor does it have to be a full time job). Once you let your audience know you’re active on particular channels, they’re going to recognize that as a place they can go to for the latest news, questions and more. If you don’t plan on dedicating time and attention to the channels you signed up for, rethink your approach and choose one channel where your audience is most active to get started. Trying one and starting slowly is a better plan than becoming a brand who is a visual form of white noise on its social networks.

Feeling better yet? Social media is tool unlike any other when it comes to brands being able to interact directly with their audiences. Don’t be afraid to dive in, but remember to be prepared before you do.

Amanda Grinavich
Marketing Analyst

Photo Credit: Emojipedia.org

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Posted on May 15, 2014 in Social Media

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About the Author

Amanda Grinavich is a Marketing Tech Account Manager at SHIFT Communications. Prior to joining the digital marketing team at SHIFT, Amanda worked on the PR side of the house where she served clients in the technology space. She graduated from Boston University with B.S. in Communications.
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