Posted on November 12, 2012 by Kevin Getch By Kevin Getch If you know you should be doing social media but are suffering from “paralysis of analysis,” then this post is for you. By the time you’re done reading — and acting on — these 7 Action Steps you’ll be well on your way to social media success. But before we start let’s consider the facts (to reinforce why this is so critical to your business goals): Facebook has one billion monthly active users Twitter has 500 million registered users Google Plus has 400 million users LinkedIn has 175 million users I think those numbers speak for themselves, so enough about the “why.” Let’s move into the “how” and take some action. Note: I estimate it will take you two hours to complete these seven tasks. So if you don’t have time right now I suggest you bookmark this post and come back when you have time. Look at your schedule right now and make the appointment. Okay, let’s get started! Step 1: Setup Social Media Profiles The first thing you need to do, if you haven’t already, is set up social media profiles for your business. The most popular social media sites, and ones to most likely consider as your priority, are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google Plus. After you’ve set up your business profiles on these sites the next step is optimizing these profiles. Because there’s nothing that screams, “I’m new to social media!” louder than setting up a Facebook or LinkedIn business page without uploading a photo or completing your bio. So make sure you at least do the following in each of your profiles: Action: Upload an image of you or your company’s logo. Make sure the image you use is consistent online so you can successfully brand yourself. Complete your bio. One of the first things most people do when they arrive at your social media page is click the “about” section. Put your best foot forward without being too wordy. And forget the useless corporate jargon. Remember, this is social media, so make it personal and interesting. Include a link to your website. Yes, people are flocking to social media at a dizzying speed but don’t forget that your website is still your central hub. All these social media sites (that you don’t own) should serve your website (which you do own). Not the other way around. Step 2: Load Content After you’ve completed your social media profiles the next step is to upload content, videos and pictures to your pages. Otherwise people will visit your page, see that nothing is going on and leave. So don’t let your social media page become a “ghost town.” Action: If you already have a blog, link to several of your best posts on your social media pages. Do the same with any YouTube videos, infographics, interesting/cool images, or articles you have. Use discretion here. While you don’t want to be perceived as a “ghost town” you also don’t want to flood your page with useless content. So linking to your Terms and Conditions page might be a bit much. Step 3: Follow People The next step is to start following key industry influencers. By following key influencers you’ll stay current with industry trends and new technology but more importantly, you’ll also gain insight into why certain people are able to build massive social media followings (also known as “tribes”). Pay attention to the leaders of these tribes and take notes. Notice the frequency with which they post. The type of content they share with their followers. And how they interact with their followers. Action: Think of some influential people in your industry. Now search for their names or company names in Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and LinkedIn. Circle them, follow them and like their pages. You can also use tools like Followerwonk and Klout to locate key influencers in your industry. Also pay attention to the “suggested follow” notifications you get in the various social media sites. Step 4: Add Social Buttons Once you’ve built up your social media profiles it’s time to drive traffic to those pages. An effective way to do this is to add social media buttons to your website and email signature. Action: Ask your web designer to add these buttons to your site. And take a tip from Steve Jobs regarding the design of the buttons: “We made the buttons on the screen look so good you’ll want to lick them.” Now you’re buttons probably won’t look quite as good as Apple’s, but do your best to make them look at least somewhat sexy. Also pay attention to where you place these buttons. You may even want to dig into Google Analytics to see which pages people visit the most and place buttons there. For example, many business owners underestimate how many people view their About page. So that may be a good page to start with but you’ll want to do your own research. You may also consider adding a link to your social sites in your email signature. Step 5: Offline Promotion Even though the world is going more and more digital you can’t forget to integrate your offline and online marketing efforts. So look at all your printed promotional materials to find what opportunities you have to promote your social media pages. Consider adding social media icons or specific urls to your pages on: Business cards Brochures Sales letters Postcards Flyers Billboards Signs Newspaper/magazine ads Table tents (if you’re a restaurant) Step 6: Automate One of the biggest challenges businesses face regarding social media is the time involved. “I have a business to run; I don’t have time to be posting on Facebook.” Sound familiar? If so, listen closely, because I want to share a social media success secret with you: in order to be consistent with social media you’ll need to learn how to automate the process. Here’s what I mean: You could either login to Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and LinkedIn every day and post something, or you could save yourself time by using a social media dashboard application to automatically post for you. HootSuite and TweetDeck are two of the most popular applications. Here’s how it works: You login to the dashboard and create a post. Then you ask it to be posted to all the major social media sites (of course you have to link to your profiles first). Another way you can automate your social media marketing is to write a series of posts (say for the week) and then schedule them to be posted on certain days and times. Action: Download either HootSuite or TweetDeck. Link your social media profiles to your new social media dashboard. Create a “test” post to make sure it works properly. Then schedule 30 minutes a week to create your week’s posts. This will save you time and also help you be consistent in your social media marketing efforts. Step 7: Engage The last (but perhaps most important) piece of advice I’ll leave you with has to do with engagement. Unfortunately, many business owners fail to understand the nature of social media and therefore don’t think “it works.” And the reason it doesn’t work for them is because they assume social media is just another place to advertise. So in order to avoid this costly mistake it’s important you embrace the “social” aspect of social media. If you don’t you become like the annoying guy at the party who constantly talks about how great he is (you know the guy… the one everyone avoids). So don’t be “that guy.” Action: To start, you need to respond to the comments you get on social media. You can do this daily (which is best) or weekly if you don’t have the time. Make sure to also like, retweet and +1 comments and posts you like. You’ll also need to go beyond simply responding to what other people are saying on your pages by venturing out to other pages. Spend time every week to read what other people are saying and leave comments on their posts. And try to be more creative than “Nice post!” The more specific and real you can be the better. Remember, people relate (and buy from) people, not businesses. Think outside the box and use social media to become someone your prospects and customers know, like and trust.