My Ten Takeaways About Social Media For Startups

After spending about 5 years learning and applying new techniques about search engine optimization and marketing, I thought I should do this post about my learnings about my new interest; social media marketing.

Since social media became an internal part of the search engine optimization efforts for every business, I had to read and learn more about this new trend. After talking a lot about social media during our “Platforms Clouds and Networks” class, I thought “Why don’t I do a post that might help a few colleagues with their social media campaigns for their startups?”

I am going to try to keep this short and sweet while touching the most important aspects where I have made the most mistakes when I first started. There is a ton more that I can write about but it would take forever to finish it then. This post is targeting the small businesses / individuals who are just starting their social media presence;

1. Search Engines heavily consider your social media presence these days. If you have a business with an online presence, you HAVE TO have a twitter account / Facebook fan page for your business and post relevant content through these platforms to create a following and to gain search engine rankings.

2. Make sure to list your twitter handle and add a Facebook fan page plug-in on your business’ web page so you can convert your website visitors to a loyal follower of your developing social community.

3. Make sure to add a Facebook “Like” button to your web page. (Preferably visible on every page). Major search engines consider how many likes your website gets in their search engine ranking algorithms these days. You also get the wonderful benefit of showing up on your liker’s Facebook news feed when you post relevant stuff on your Facebook fan page.

4. Make sure to include your blog ON your domain rather than starting a new blog outside your domain. If your blog posts are interesting, people are likely to link to your blog posts, which will help your search engine rankings. You want your business website to benefit from this link juice. If you have your blog at an external site, your business will not benefit from these links. So, try to stick to a blog strategy that includes your blog on your domain somewhere such as yourbusiness.com/blog rather than something like XYZ.blogspot.com or yourbusinessblog.com

5. When you blog about something or start a new section/page on your website, make sure to tweet or do a Facebook fan page post about this with a link to the relevant page/blog post. Links on social media get indexed really fast; therefore you can start to get visitors to these pages quicker from search engines.

6. Make sure to make it easy to share content on your website via twitter, Facebook, email etc. I have had great success with www.addthis.com plug-in on our websites which allows you to get reports on sharing statistics as well.

7. Keep your Facebook and twitter accounts active. Post relevant industry news, share interesting things about your company, write “How to” articles where you have expertise on, provide data that can be useful for other people. Most importantly, engage with other people in the community through the social networks as well. Delegate this duty to an internal person that you define who is passionate about this if you can’t manage this on your own. Never outsource this task to an external party. They don’t know your company as well as someone that is working for you! You will never have sincere conversations with your customers and prospects on these platforms otherwise.

8. Make sure to describe your service/product in your Twitter profile / Facebook fan page description. Include relevant keywords you are targeting. Make sure to link to your business’ home page. The link and the keyword rich description about your service gets considered in search engine ranking algorithms.

9. Make sure to come up with creative ways to encourage people to retweet on Twitter or share your content on Facebook. This will help broaden your following. One example that has worked for us was a contest where we asked people to tweet something with the business’ twitter handle along with a message for Valentine’s Day where we have awarded 4 couples a Valentine’s Day dinner who tweeted a message with our twitter handle in it. The twitter handle for the business gained 400+ new followers that day. Similar contests on Facebook can also easily be held. You have to watch out for Facebook guidelines though since Facebook has stricter rules about Fan pages. For example, you cannot incentivize people to sign up as a fan to a Fan Page. For more guidelines: http://www.facebook.com/terms_pages.php

10. As a final note, don’t forget to LISTEN to your customers. If they feel ignored, they will ignore you.