Help – what do I say on social media?
This is a “frequently asked question” in my experience, and it seems that many business owners wonder what to say on social media. They are worried about saying the wrong thing, and/or they simply can’t think of enough different things, or indeed anything at all, to say to make social media activity worthwhile. A common misconception is that people only use social media to post about what they had for breakfast…
It’s not unusual for people to feel that they aren’t interesting, or they don’t want to sound like they’re bragging, and they know it’s not about what you had for breakfast……so their perception is that they don’t have anything useful to share on social media.
…you don’t have to post about yourself or your business most of the time! Here’s the thing: there’s absolutely no need to continually produce original content to post on social media, in fact it’s far better not to. Sharing other people’s content is far more valuable and will go a long way towards building your social communities and generating interaction and engagement. A good rule of thumb would be to make at least 80% of your social media updates not directly related to your own business or products. However you can – and should – post links to your own blog articles whenever you produce them. If you don’t already have a blog for your business, you might want to read this article I wrote last year.
Ways to find shareable content
If you’ve just set up your social media accounts – we’ll assume you’ve chosen Facebook and Twitter to start with – I’d recommend not posting anything for the first week or two. Instead, just watch and learn from others. Run a few searches to find other businesses in your niche, follow them, then keep an eye on the type of things they post. Do you find any of it interesting? Chances are that you will – you might click a few links and find yet more useful information. Would your colleagues also find it interesting? Go ahead and share (on Facebook) or retweet (on Twitter). Congratulations, you’re learning what social media is all about!
To make sharing easier, try setting up a few lists in Twitter and in Facebook. This allows you to curate content from like-minded people or those in the same field of business as yourself, without having to trawl through updates from all of your followers. You can then simply visit your lists daily and quickly find anything of interest that you feel is worth sharing.
From my own viewpoint, I’d be lost without Google Reader. It has been a real goldmine of information for me and I spend time every day going through my list of blogs and sharing links on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google Plus. (I don’t share every link to all networks, I am selective about it). Take a look at my previous article on Google Reader to learn more – I highly recommend you set up an account if you’ve not already done so – it’s free 🙂
Interact with others
Once you’re feeling comfortable on your chosen social networks and are starting to build a community, you will want to start giving back to others, perhaps by recommending them. If you see a request for help and you know someone who offers that particular service, all you have to do is reply and tag / @mention your contact and guess what, everyone benefits and you might well gain a new follower and/or potential customer. And it goes without saying that if anyone recommends you, you should respond quickly and thank them. This is one reason why you do need to visit your social media accounts regularly, to check for messages and mentions so that you aren’t leaving someone waiting and wondering why they’ve not had a response to their question.
The burning question – YES! It is OK to mention yourself, your products and services occasionally. But try to keep the self-promotion as subtle as possible. For example, I might post something like “Need help using social media for your business?” with a link to my website.
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