Getting Started on Social
Now that you have a business in mind it is time to consider how you will promote your product or service. How will you build your network? Most people start with social media as it can be free and is easily accessible by anyone with a computer and internet. Social media is a wonderful tool…when used correctly. There are many options so let’s look at a few of the major social media platforms.
Facebook is likely your first stop on the social media road trip. Most of us already have a personal account and may already spend way too much time on the platform. Facebook lets you connect with people, find your interests, advertise and so much more.
Facebook Profile – This is your personal profile page. Here is where you connect with people you already know. It may be a place where the wilder side of you shows as well. Before launching your business, take a look at what this page says about you. There may be some deletions necessary. Now this is your personal page where you interact with friends and family. You can share your business here but be careful not to make it all about your product or service. The fastest way to lose friends is to annoy the heck out of them by pushing sales all the time. Your personal profile page should be your real name. Do NOT set up a personal profile for your business – use a Facebook Page or Group instead. Facebook will delete personal accounts set up as a business.
Facebook Pages – A Facebook page is where you can set up your business. Explore various features to customize your page to work best for you. It is easy to incorporate Action Buttons into the Page Menu asking visitors to take a certain action. You can invite your friends to like your page and you can also use your page to sell product. Facebook allows you to use the following categories on your page:
- Info and ads
Your page can also be customized to your preferred style. Many businesses prefer to focus on their Facebook page instead of a more traditional website.
Facebook Groups – Looking for a place where you can grow a community? Facebook groups are designed to let you interact with your customers, clients or others that share similar interests. Groups can be public and allow anyone to join or can be set to private where you must invite members. You can also use groups for buy and sell purposes. Some businesses use groups to facilitate conversation in private masterminds or member networks where only paid members (to the official business) may access the group and information shared within. One huge error many people make with Facebook Groups is to add people automatically without asking them first. While it may be fine to add your brother, spouse or best friend, the majority of people do not want to be added to your group. Respect your friends and ask first or invite them to join you.
Facebook Live – This feature is available on both your personal and business page. Are you wanting to create a webinar or share live information via video about your product or service? Facebook Live lets you do this in real-time which can also allow your audience to comment live as you speak. It may be an option for your business or simply to let your audience know more about you.
Twitter has long since been one of my favorite platforms. Twitter gives you access to a network far beyond your own. It is easy to reach out and connect to new people. To best utilize this network, build lists based on subjects that interest you and are related to your business or development of same. Use hashtags to follow conversations on specific topics or events. Share information and links with the twitter community. Many people find twitter confusing as the feed contains a lot of information. By using lists and hashtags, you can reduce the noise.
Another nice thing about twitter is the ability to use images and video. These can be very useful in connection with a carefully worded tweet and a link. Use twitter to share information and to engage in conversation with others.
If you own a business and want to build your network, I highly recommend having a professional profile on LinkedIn. This platform allows you to connect with other individuals in the same field as well as a wide range of business owners and professionals. If you are looking to hire, share an event, make a connection or ask a question, the LinkedIn feed can be very helpful. Remember that this is a professional platform, not a marketplace so be careful of how you promote your business. Be sure to share relevant information about your industry and not just sales pitches for your products. LinkedIn is a wonderful way to make new connections and keep track of your professional community.
This platform is visually focused. If you are promoting a product or service for anyone under age 30, you will want to focus on one of these platforms instead of Facebook. Facebook is your parents social network. Note that Facebook and Instagram can be integrated making it a great platform to combine social media efforts. As with Facebook, ensure you set up a business profile or risk having your account flagged or deleted. Hashtags are a major part of the ‘Gram so make sure to brush up on your hashtag skills.
Instagram posting must be consistent. You will need quality photos and videos. I highly suggest reviewing the Instagram Guide Getting Started.
One of the first things your business should consider is setting up an email list. You will want to maintain a list of your customers, stakeholders and business connections. So how do you start?
I recommend using a platform like Mail Chimp or Constant Contact. Using the free version of these programs will allow you to build lists that can be sorted by type of contact. You may also want to look at other content relationship management (CRM) systems such as HubSpot.
Are you thinking about everyone in your email address book or that stack of business cards you collected? Do NOT think you can simply enter these into a mailing list. Canada and other countries have very strict anti-spam laws. You must have consent from the party before adding them to a mailing list. You may not send unsolicited mass emails without facing blackballing from your ISP, being flagged for Spam or being fined. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the European Union’s (EU) new privacy law, came into effect on May 25th, 2018 and apply to any business that does business with customers in the EU and requires active opt-in for email consent. Further the US CAN-SPAM Act and the Canadian Anti-Spam guide also requires consent from contacts to receive emails.
If you are collecting emails at an event, trade show, in a business location or any other place, be sure to have each person sign and acknowledge consent to receive emails and be added to an email list. You should save these consents to avoid any potential spam claims. Sending a one-off email in respect to an order or other reason is fine but in most cases you should not send unsolicited emails outside the existing transaction. If you are collecting emails online through an email subscribe button or other intake, be sure to also request consent from the party to receive email from your company.
Website or Blog
A web presence is necessary for business. One option you may consider is a website. Websites are perfect for creating sales funnels and lead pages. They can also be used for eCommerce and to provide information about your business. Many people choose to feature a blog on their website. Blogs can be used to provide information and share news.
When first starting out, a website may seem to be an overwhelming task. This is why many people choose to create a Facebook Page instead. However, nowadays website building can be accomplished with little to no coding required thanks to platforms like WordPress, WIX, Shopify and so much more. My favorite platform is WordPress due to its virtually unlimited plugins to accomplish whatever look and use you may desire. You will need to purchase a domain and web hosting. These costs start around $100 a year but can vary greatly depending on the hosting company. EntreLaunch highly recommends Websavers.ca for web hosting.
Regardless of what platform you choose, there are guidelines you should always follow. Social media is about being social. That means engaging with your audience.
Here are a few of the top guidelines:
- Do not be a broadcaster; engage your audience
- Do not buy followers. You want your audience to be interested in your product, service or you. Fake followers are just fake numbers. It is much better to have a small yet loyal following instead of thousands of fake or uninterested accounts.
- Follow the 1:5 rule. For every post about your business, make sure there are 5 posts about the industry, your community or other subjects that might interest your audience. This ensures you are providing value and not just treating your audience as $$ signs.
- Always be learning. Social media changes fast. Stay up to date on changes to each platform.
- Focus on the platforms that best serve your audience. You do NOT need to be on every platform. Instead, choose the platforms your clients use most. If you are trying to reach teenagers, Facebook is not the right place for you. Consider specialized platforms. If you are providing custom products for a niche market, look for platforms and discussion boards where you will find this audience. Remember though that your primary purpose should be to build a relationship, not spam a site with sales ads.
How Not to Piss Off Friends and Family
This is one of the most important sections of this course.
When launching a business, you do not want to piss off friends and family. Your friends and family are not sales targets. They are not an endless source of money. They are not your long-term customers. Many are not a customer at all. So why would you risk these relationships by pushing your products and services at them until they stop answering your calls, block your messages and completely ghost you?
Your friends and family can be your biggest supports as you launch a new business so treat them with respect. Share your ideas, talk about why you have selected the product or service. If a friend or family member wants to know more then share your products and services. Please do not spam or push friends and family to sign up for your service, host a party or buy your product especially if it is not something they would typically consider, use or need.
As with social media, your relationships with friends and family should be more than simply sales pitches, advertising and pushing your own agenda. Treat your friends, family and audience with respect.