5 WAYS TO UP YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA GAME

Written by ChristieGarton Published in

In the beginning, it’s easy for entrepreneurs to quickly reach overload. Between filing the necessary legal paperwork to attracting your first clients, the last thing you want to worry about is what tweet you should send out that week. Truth is, one cannot afford to ignore their social media presence where business leads and revenue can be just one smart Facebook post away.

The good news: social media can often be the most affordable and accessible way to reach your audience. Throwing yourself and your business out in the social media vortex may seem overwhelming, but it’s easier than you think. All you need is expertise (which you have), a plan (which you can create) and consistency (which you will learn). To elevate your social media presence, here are five tried-and-true steps that new entrepreneurs can take.

1. Know what social media works for you.

If your company isn’t on social media these days, people may wonder if it’s even real. You have to be present on social media, but you can’t afford to be everywhere, nor does it make sense to be everywhere, especially at the start. First ask: where are my potential customers hanging out? If your target consumer or beneficiary is a teen girl, like my non-profit’s, you have to be on Instagram - no way around it. But we also know that it’s important for us to have a strong presence on Facebook and Twitter, so we have invested in those platforms as well. These channels work for us because we know that’s where our audience lives. To figure out what works for you, start with an informed plan and then pay attention. Track your wins and losses. You’ll quickly learn what works and doesn’t with your target consumer. Also don’t forget to study those brands and companies who are doing it right. Watch how they talk and focus on what they talk about. Once you get going, engage yourself and join the conversation on the right platforms.  

2. Keep going!

You have officially opened yourself up to the social media galaxy. So what comes next after all the excitement at launch dies down? Build, build, build. Keep going. Adapt to the social media culture, if not for you, for your business. Share original content on important topics to your industry, links to articles or resources, words of wisdom, advice--whatever works for you. You need to post consistent content that stays true to your brand and informs your audience. Follow like-minded entrepreneurs or leaders, and interact with them. The goal is to populate your accounts with a plethora of content that speaks to your brand and company, making you a stand-out.

3. Break out of your network.

If your business is new to social media, reach out to your old colleagues, friends and, yes, even family, asking them to follow your accounts. Often, this group will have your back and help to cushion the blow if you don’t rack up thousands of followers at launch. But that’s just the start. The hard part is breaking out of your comfort network. After all, the goal is to reach your target consumer and grow your following. Best way to do it? Attend industry conferences and events, which opens the door to meeting new people-- and followers! If at a conference, incorporate hashtags for that are specific to conference, as well as tag other attendees, speakers and organizations. Your following will naturally and exponentially grow. You never know who will retweet or interact with you!

4. Hold yourself accountable.

Good news! You’ve got your social media accounts set up, and maybe you already have a following. Now it is time to be accountable. Set social goals and create a realistic schedule for when you’ll be working towards those goals. Don’t force yourself to write five blogs a week if it’s not going to work. Instead, take baby steps, and don’t rush. The goal early on is to create an authentic voice and consistent posting schedule that you can stick with. If you fall off the social media wagon, get back on. Communicate with your audience about the realities of your process. If you’re reaching the right people, they will understand and support you.

5. Don’t forget your personal brand.

No matter what strategy you take on social media for your business, having a plan for you, your personal brand, is important. This can be in addition to what you are doing for your company on social media. For instance if a strong founder role is important, you must think through how you will fit into the overall social media strategy. If you haven’t done so already, go through a personal branding exercise and create your roadmap. Luckily, there are many resources available online like this personal branding exercise from PwC. These tools can help you create that perfect snapshot of who you are as a professional. List your “why,” your personality traits, your unique differentiators, your passions--all of the characteristics that make you who you are. Then think about how you represent yourself in person and online. These factors make up your personal brand. Once you know who you are, the right choices of what social platforms you need to be on and what voice you want to have will follow. And don’t forget to Google yourself! You never know what you may find. If there are any potential issues, there are professional “scrub services” who can work with you to clean up any messy digital footprints you left behind.

As you work to get your business off the ground, do not neglect to develop your social media strategy. Start with a plan, and stick to it. Revise when necessary. This effort can help to establish your business - and you - as a leader in your industry. Your customers and bottom line will thank you.

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CEO Christie Garton is an award-winning social entrepreneur who has long supported the professional dreams of young women as founder of UChic.com, the first-ever online magazine for college-bound and college-aged women. The popular site became the best-selling college guidebook for girls: UChic: College Girls’ Real Advice for Your First Year (& Beyond!) (Sourcebooks 2015). Over 100,000 copies have been sold. A youth marketing expert, she also wrote Marketing to Millennials: Reach the Largest and Most Influential Generation of Consumers Ever (AMACOM 2013). She launched the 1,000 Dreams Fund in 2015.

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