5 Practical Steps for Diving into Social Media

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Cartoon of a male with social media icons around his head in thought bubbles.

Developing a comprehensive social media is a marathon and you are already half way through it!

If you haven’t been following along in this series, here’s a quick recap on what we have covered so far: We learned the value of creating achievable social media goals for what you want to accomplish and some practical steps on what those goals can look like. We also talked through the basics of your social strategy to know your target audience, know your competition, and track your metrics. There was also a post with some example social media templates you can follow.

If you are asking yourself what you need to do on social media and whether you believe it or not, this is completely normal to ask! You are not alone.

The work you do on your social media channels can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be. Your social media strategy can be as basic as sharing already generated and curated content or posting your original content. It can be in-depth brand growth by following your target audience and/or setting up social ads to drive sales with analytical data to assess.

Keep your social media goals in mind as we look at 5 practical steps you can take when first starting out on social media:

1. Create your social media accounts.

Create an account name that closely matches your brand or organization to help with any searches that will take place by potential followers. If you are going to be using multiple social media channels, try to create the username that is the same for all platforms.

Tips: If you cannot get the same name as your brand (most likely because the names are already taken), try to create one that is as similar as possible. You can use symbols like an underscore (_) to accomplish this. Try to not be discouraged if the name you want on a social platform is already taken and the account is inactive (not being used); this is a regular occurrence.

You can try to reach out to the account owner to get access but this is a long shot. Keep in mind, the social platform will not respond to any requests for deleting that unused account name so that you can have it.

2. Begin to create and curate your social media content.

Content Creation is the original content that you write/create. This can be about any topic relating to your brand, event, product, etc. Video and photo media is always a great way to generate interactions on your original content.

Content Curation is where you compile already posted content from a wide array of sources on similar topics. Curating content is typically centered around specific topics relating to your brand in some way. This can include blog content, digital news posts, even already posted social media content. Any quality digital content that relates to your account in some way will do.

Tips: It is permissible to use previously posted photo and video media that is not original, just be sure to give artistic and creative credit to the original source! Passing off content that someone else generated as your own is digital plagiarism. Giving artistic credit is typically done by including (“tagging”) the account name that created the image, video or graphic within the written portion of your post.

For example: “photo/video created by @webconnex”

Creating beautiful and engaging media is hard work, be sure they get the credit for it.

3. Engage with your followers!

The entire point of social media is to interact and connect on the platforms. Try to find the time to give your followers some love and attention on the social channels. Responding to comments, messages, and tweets as soon as possible is always a good habit to create.

Tips: In the early stages it can be really helpful to turn on notifications for your social media apps. This will allow you to get mobile updates when anyone comments or sends you a message via each social media channel.

The more followers/engagement you get, the more of an annoyance the notifications can become, but you can always turn the notifications off when you hit this point.

4. Find your target audience and follow them.

I will be honest: this is often an undiscussed, gray area within the social media world. The idea is that you want to find your target audience on the social platform(s) you are using and follow them. The purpose is to present your account to them and provide them with the opportunity to learn more about the account, possibly follow and engage.

Where this gets sticky is that if the account does not you follow back, you will most likely want to unfollow them after a given period of time. The timing of the unfollow varies depending on how aggressive the account wants to be. Only waiting 1-3 days before unfollowing those that do not follow back is seen as very aggressive. Waiting a week to unfollow is considered “safe” while waiting upwards of a month is seen as very conservative.

This growth strategy is mostly implemented on Twitter and Instagram. Facebook sets up their platform to make this strategy far more challenging as most businesses are forced to create “Like” pages that will not have the ability to initiate a connection with an individual Facebook user.

It would not be surprising if this has happened to you on your personal social media accounts at some point. Regardless of perceptions, it is a useful strategy to grow the number of followers on your social media accounts.

If this strategy feels a bit too invasive, you are not alone in thinking that. Another option is to simply “like” generated content from the accounts that are your target audience. It will be a bit softer of an engagement for the account to recognize you and possibly follow back in comparison to following them.

5. Create Social Ads.

If you already have some quality media that is generated, it could be a benefit to create and pay for some social media ads to run on the most useful social networks for your brand.

With regards to ad creation: it is never permissible to use media created by another account for free. If you want to use a photo or video for ad-based purposes, you will need to reach out the account who created the content and pay for the distribution rights to be used for your ad.

There is a plethora of useful content already published on the logistics of how to set this up as well as ways to create a successful social ad. Google search is your friend.

When looking into these different aspects of what can be done on social media, the elements you should take into consideration the most will be the time you have and the goals you want to achieve. It is important to have an equilibrium between the two.

I have personally seen good results when at least 1 hour of the workday is provided to social media. It should be enough time to generate a couple good original content posts/ads, find a few curated posts to fill in the days with and still leave enough time to follow some target audience accounts and engage with any comments or messages that come in. Using a tool to help with scheduling posts and also being able to find your target audience will be your biggest asset to help make the time you spend as productive and efficient as possible!