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How to Use Social Media in Your Business Plan
Promoting Your Business Using the Internet
Every Business needs to have a business plan that includes the methods to market the business products and services to the public to gain customers and revenue.
Traditional marketing methods may include paid advertisements on television, radio, and paper media. While this may still work for some businesses, like used car sales, you will see these same businesses are now trying to use the internet to reach more potential customers.
Why the Internet? The most common answer is that generation X and Y customers are almost exclusively using the internet for social media, shopping, news, education, and finance.
If your business offers products or services that target the age groups for generation X (born in the 1960s - 1980), generation Y (born between 1980s and 2000 - also called millenials), or the generation Z (all born post year 2000), then the internet is the place to find these potential customers and get their attention.
What Do We Need to Do?
OK, so what social media applications are out there on the internet to help reach new customers?
First off, I would HIGHLY recommend that you create your own picture / image / avatar to use consistently across all online accounts. These are graphical representations of your business.
I use a small JPG file that is around 8 KB in size. See image photo to the right.
Since I am not an Adobe Photoshop expert by any means, I called upon our friend Scott to design and create this image for me to use as a logon on my website and to use as the icon or avatar that represents my online identity.
Next, you could identify a mascot to help with any advertising images or photo that you would need to promote your product or service. Do you remember that Taco Bell Dog? It was a cute and adorable Chihuahua. It had nothing to do with the food products, but people remembered the company because of the cute animal.
Then, you would need to get a list of the most popular social media sites to use to promote your business.
Consistency for Sanity
In addition to using the same avatar for your online identity when creating social media accounts, you may also want to have a separate email address with your business name in it when you create these new accounts.
The email address may be available for people to contact you, so try to have a business-oriented email address for your social media accounts, business cards, and on your website (if you have one).
How Do We Start?
This is a good question. How do we start all of this? The answer is simple, identify all of the social media applications that are related to and are appropriate for your business.
How do you find these applications? The easiest way is to search the internet using a browser search engine, like Google or Bing. If you are not savvy using the internet to search, then ask for help!
You will need a method to keep track of all of your online usernames/passwords and links to the social media accounts you choose. Then you will need a method to track your activity on those accounts. See the example tracking spreadsheet below.
You will also need to know what the limitations are for your promoting on the internet. Some application sites do not allow hyperlinks to other sites. Most blog sites do, but you will need to read the terms and conditions to verify. Some application sites limit the content allowed. They will also specify this in the terms and conditions. One of the common restrictions is the "No Adult Content" allowed.
Example Online Media Tracking Sheet
Social Media Site
Current Online Discount Codes and News
Tweet latest business news
Tell Me More About These Applications
Social networking websites, like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ always seem to appear in the top ten lists in recent news articles.
Facebook and Google+ are the social website applications. People use this site to share personal experiences, recipes, family photos and more.
Twitter is used for micro blogging. Each Tweet is limited to only 140 characters. For the best results, ensure that you add related #hashtags to every tweet. The #hashtag is a form of key word that people can search on in Twitter. The keyword or words are prefixed with the hash or pound sign character #. An example of a tweet for this hubpage short URL and using the #hashtags is: #smallbiz and #socialmedia intro http://hub.me/ajPlM. Note that the #hashtag keywords are lowercase and where 2 words are needed, combine them to one word. You could also use #smallbiz and #social #media in your #business #planning http://hub.me/ajPlM.
YouTube is for video sharing. If you make a short video discussing your product or service, you can upload it to share.
LinkedIn is more for professional people to network to share job opportunities and educational resources.
Instagram is used to share photos and Snapchat is used for Instant messaging.
Pinterest and Pearltrees are sites that share images to promote ads, recipes, how to articles and more.
Blogspot, Tumblr, and Wordpress are examples of blog sites. Blogs are used to log news or other information an easy format. For your business, you may want to write articles or reviews about your products and services and add links to those articles on your blog for the readers to follow.
Effective blogs are interactive, where you allow other people to add commentary to your news. of course, you would want to set the option to review all comments prior to publishing on your blog!
Keep It Business Only
Remember - these online accounts are for your business. Do not provide any personal information on them.
You can always create separate personal accounts later.
I Set Up a Couple Accounts, Now What?
Again, if you are not Internet savvy, you may want to start slowly and open just one or two accounts to start with. After you get accustomed to managing these, you can always add more.
After you have created your accounts on your target applications, you will need to do two things:
1. Promote the Internet address, URL, or link to your new accounts to your existing customers. You can do this by way of adding the links to your existing website, updating your business cards and letter head, and by mailing letters with this wonderful new method to contact you!
2. Gain internet followers. This is difficult at first. Your customers can add themselves to your follower list themselves when they visit your page, or you can send an invite to them if you know their email addresses. It does take time for your list of followers to grow.
A key point to remember here is that you need to be active with updating the information on these accounts. For example, if you are promoting a new product, you need to update the product list and photographs. If you have positive feedback from a customer, you may ask them to add that feedback to one of your blogs or Facebook page for others to see.
If you find that you still need more help, here is a link for Small Business For Dummies Books on ebay. Small Business for Dummies books are available for specific topics including guide for dealing with taxes, human resources, networking, financial management, marketing, and more!
Examples of Top Social Media Sites
- 60+ Social Networking Sites You Need to Know About in 2017 - Make A Website Hub
Here's our list of the most popular social media sites being explored by the world today. Learn about some amazing social sites that you can start on today.
What Should I Watch Out For?
One word, Fraud. One of the biggest obstacles we face on the internet these days is the theft of identity and attempt of fraudulent use. When an entity impersonates you to try to get your customers, or worse - their personal information, your reputation will take a negative hit.
Another form of fraud is the attempt to lure you, the business owner, into signing up for help advertising your business website through the use of unwanted email. Fraudsters can buy stolen lists of email addresses from hackers and send unsolicited email to them. They will tell you they will market your ads to thousands of email addresses. Again, the people will think that you are the spammer and your reputation can take a negative hit from that.
Your reputation is everything in business. Guard it wisely!
Where Can I Find Out More About Internet Fraud?
- Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) | Internet Crime Schemes
- Top US Scams - ScamGuard™
A number of online scams originating from various places around the world have emerged as the top scams for causing the most hardware, financial and emotional damage to computer users.
Support Books on Amazon
How to Create a Blog - an example from YouTube
© 2015 Lori Robinson