In a recent study, 54% of US professionals ages 20-45 said that social media would be important to their career in the coming years.
As an entrepreneur, social media can offer some great opportunities for yourself and your business.
You can use social media to promote and attract. You can use social media to listen and monitor. You can use social media to learn about your competition, partners and employees.
And you can also use social media to hurt your brand – both personal and business.
Social Media: Built On Personal Connections
Social media can be tricky because you want to use it in a way that allows you to connect with others. That usually involves the people you already know or people that share similar interests.
But in that personal-type setting it can be easy to let your guard down a bit and let emotion get the better of you. And in some of those cases your emotions and reactions can be amplified and there can be backlash. This often happens when individuals get riled up about political issues.
But you can avoid that fate and still take advantage of social media by having the right mindset and the right strategy for your social media efforts.
Here are the key steps to using social media as an entrepreneur.
1. Assess Your Commitment // Consistent Scheduling
The biggest step in taking on social media is determining if you’re really interested in social media.
My background is in blogging and the biggest observation I’ve taken away from the blogging world is that many people like the though of blogging, but when it comes to actually researching and writing it’s not so appealing.
The same is true with social media. Many like the idea of using social media, but once they begin they find out that it’s just as much work as it is fun. It’s hard to find time every day to commit to sharing something, interacting and doing all the things required with social media in order to be effective.
It’s probably going to be quiet in the early days of your social media efforts.
Can you go 3 months, maybe even 6 months or longer with very little engagement?
That’s a realistic scenario. It could be better, but just because you go in with optimism doesn’t mean good things will happen right away.
That’s where people get discouraged and give up. I guess that’s fine…hey, they tried.
But it’s too common. You can have success with social media, but your commitment has to be strong.
2. Find The Right Channel
The next mistake social media users make, including entrepreneurs, is to try too many social networks.
It’s difficult for entire businesses to maintain multiple social channels. It’s really a full-time job to manage each channel on its own if you want to have success. That’s why companies have individuals to handle video for YouTube and someone to manage the Facebook page and another person to handle things on Pinterest.
A good strategy for an individual is to start and to likely stick with just a single channel. You’re much more likely to find success if you focus all your efforts on one instead of spreading yourself too thin across multiple.
You could maybe get away with two channels, but start with one.
For most entrepreneurs the biggest benefit will likely come from LinkedIn especially if you’re in the B2B world. But Facebook and Twitter or even Pinterest or Instagram might be better options if you’re in the B2C world.
It depends on what your goals are and who you’re trying to connection with.
3. What To Share
Now comes the strategy of what to share.
The good thing about social media is that you can make it your own. There are no rules about what will and won’t work.
However, I know it can help to have a good starting point. Here are a few thoughts on what an entrepreneur can share, at least starting out, to get their feet wet in social media:
- 40% – Interesting Content (Articles, Videos, etc.)
- 30% – Thoughts On Industry (News, Events, Trends, etc.)
- 20% – Interaction
- 10% – Experimental Content (Whatever you want)
These are not strict guidelines. You could mix it up, but I think it’s a good idea of where to start.
You can become a beacon of good content in your industry and from your perspective if you share content. Entrepreneurs are often voracious readers and consumers of information. Share the items you find most interesting and you’ll attract followers, people that want good information.
Also provide your thoughts on that content especially things your target followers will care about. Let’s say you’re a homebuilder and an article comes out that talks about new building materials. You can provide your thoughts on the material and what it means for homebuyers.
It’s also important to interact with others to build your profile (more on this next).
And finally, have some fun an experiment with some different things: quotes, jokes, whatever you want.
4. How To Interact
Interaction is a major part of social media.
Social media is really just an online extension of person-to-person interaction in the real world. Think of social media like meeting a person in-person.
You would ask that person about themselves, their job and their interests. You would show interest in them and you would then share information about yourself so you can get to know each other.
You would discuss common interests. You would help that person if there is an opportunity. You would ask for help if you’re curious about something.
You probably wouldn’t start an argument with someone you just met. You probably wouldn’t start getting emotionally heated about politics.
The same general guidelines are good to follow on social media. Arguments rarely accomplish anything in real life. They often lead to only negative outcomes.
That’s pretty much always the case on social media.
5. How To Properly Show Emotion
When you interact with people in-person you probably show emotion. You might be a little more calm because that’s a common trait among entrepreneurs, but you still show emotion.
When you talk about your interests you probably get excited and passionate. That’s a good thing to replicate on social media.
When you’re talking about what you do and the things you care about it’s okay to get passionate about it. That might involve sharing details and going on for a few social updates on one topic.
That’s okay. You’re going to attract the type of people that are just as passionate about something as you are.
The one warning I have is that being passionate about your work is one thing, a positive thing. But if you start getting passionate about things that don’t really matter like politics you’ll often find negative feedback from others.
There are some things in life that can’t be “won” and that’s one of them. There are a few others.
Social media is a great opportunity for entrepreneurs, but many don’t take advantage. And that’s okay. Entrepreneurs are smart and they often assess how much work social media includes and they know they can’t commit to it.
But that also leaves an opportunity for entrepreneurs willing to invest the effort. People are looking to connect with other entrepreneurs and if you commit and go about the strategy in the right way you can see reward from the effort.