So you’ve started your business and heard the buzz about social media, but don’t know where to start? Take a deep breath and have no fear—in a few simple steps you can set yourself up for success.

1. Tidy up your personal social media accounts.

Confirm that your permissions reflect the level of privacy you want to maintain and be sure to hide any information that you don’t want to share with your soon-to-be customer base. This can be achieved by going to the ‘Privacy’ or ‘Settings’ section of each channel and modifying visibility accordingly. Be sure to stay on top of this though, as platforms are constantly evolving and may default back to a previous setting when major updates are made.

2. Make your presence known—slowly.

Instead of tackling the social media world in one big leap, start small by building pages for your brand on the top three most relevant channels for your business. For example, if you own a scrapbooking store, you’ll most likely want to utilize Pinterest to display individual products or sample pages; if your venture is a restaurant, head straight to Twitter so you can easily share quick links to coupons and specials. It’s best to just start with three channels, and with few exceptions one of those three should most likely be Facebook, just because (at present time) it has the most users.

When you start small, you allow yourself time to build respectable followings instead of spreading yourself too thin and being unable to effectively engage on multiple networks. Plus, you can always utilize more channels in the future if you expand your staff and capacity.

3. Become follow-friendly.

To gain followers for your new accounts, the best thing you can do is to become one. Start looking for brands and products that you like on the platforms where you’re creating accounts and follow their pages. Once you’re there, be sure to engage by commenting on posts that you find interesting or participate in live chats, etc. This will endear you to others and give you some great practice regarding brand engagement.

4. Regulate and delegate.

Establish a social media policy for your company regardless of the size of your staff. Be sure to address acceptable frequency of use, company spokespeople, profiles that contain your company name and photo guidelines. It’s also a good idea to have your legal team (or an outside lawyer if you don’t have anyone in-house) review the document before implementation.

Once your policy is in place, if you have more than a handful of people on staff, appoint someone to act as the online brand spokesperson. This individual should be a great communicator with superb writing skills. You’ll most likely find that employee in your marketing or public relations department, though a customer service representative can also be a good fit.

The main thing is to choose an employee that you completely trust to project your company vision and values to the world. They should also have extensive knowledge of how your products or services work and where to seek answers within your team if they receive questions from customers.

If you have a staff larger than 40 or 50 employees, you should establish an ambassador team with representatives from various departments to act as brand evangelists. This group should meet regularly to discuss successes and challenges, and stay on top of the changing social media world.

5. Keep the conversation alive.

Hard as it may be to refrain from selling, remember that social media is meant to be social. If all you’re doing is posting information about your brand, you’re going to lose followers (or perhaps put them to sleep). It’s certainly fine to share news about your business, offer deals to your customers and spread the word about your achievements, but you also need to engage your readers in classic back-and-forth dialog. As a bonus, you’ll learn more about your customers and what they like about your brand.



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