In Part 1, you learned how to get set up on Google with an email, Google+ account, and public business listing. This time around, it’s time to handle social media; Facebook, Twitter and even a couple others that may work best with businesses just like yours. Social media is integral to building your online presence, staying in touch with your audience, and staying abreast of the competition—don’t let your business miss out on the benefits of this basic SEO method.
Facebook: The Social Network
You’ve definitely heard of it, you probably already have an account, and you may even have a page set up for your business. But are you really getting the most out of Facebook? Starting from the ground up, here’s what you need to get your page up and running the right way.
Before you make a Facebook business page, you’ll need a personal account. If you already have one, excellent! If not, rest assured that the signup for Facebook is fairly straightforward, requiring the same basic information you’ll find in most signup forms. If you sign up with your Google account—highly recommended, as it makes accessing your account and resetting passwords as needed much simpler—then the social network will offer to add friends based on your contact list. Whether or not you do this is up to you, but since this isn’t your business page, don’t worry about it too much.
Once you’re logged into your personal account, click the little triangle, pointing downward, on the far right side of Facebook’s blue topbar. This will open a dropdown menu, and at the top of that menu you’ll find the words “Create Page.” Click that, and you’ll find yourself with the option to choose exactly what kind of page you want to make; select “Local Business or Place, and fill out the short form that pops up. With that, you’re ready to go!
A few things you need to know about your new business page:
You have the option to invite multiple users to manage the page with you, which gives posting, editing and other administrative abilities to the invited users.
Every business page has a dashboard toward the top of the page that lets you know your recent shares, likes, and other important analytics information to measure your reach and impact. When you first start out, most of these features will be unavailable, as they can’t give an accurate reading until you have a certain number of likes, posts or views.
When you log into your personal Facebook account, you can easily switch over to the business page from the topbar; just click your portrait and select the business page listed below, or go to your business page and click the link to “view this page as [Business Name].”
When you’re logged into the business page, you will be liking, following and viewing other posts on Facebook as that business and not as yourself—keep this in mind if you want to share a post on your blog.
After you’ve gotten a bit more familiar with the tools available to businesses on Facebook, it’s time to spruce things up with the imagery. Your user image or avatar is a 180 pixel square, but will be cropped a little regardless of size, so try to submit an image no smaller than 200 pixels on each side. Since the user image is the one thing visible from your page’s styling when your business appears in the news feeds of your friends and customers, the best option here is to use a cropped and scaled copy of your company logo. This time around, try to get it scaled to the right dimensions before uploading, or else you could lose important portions of the image.
Facebook’s current cover image dimensions are 851×351 pixels, and there are strict guidelines regarding the amount of text versus imagery that can be used in this space. Due to overuse as an advertising space, in 2013 Facebook declared that no more than 30 percent of the cover image was to be used for text, with the rest relegated to strictly visual media. This means that you’ll want to use a nice sharp photo of your storefront, your employees, your best products or your best service in action; using text here is good on an as-needed basis, but the cover image should never be considered you number one ad placement on Facebook.
When it comes to actually posting on Facebook, things aren’t quite as clear as dimensions down to the pixel. There have been multiple studies into the best and worst times to make social media posts, and the results have been highly conflicting. The most recent study says that posting during the week between 1:00 and 4:00 PM result in the most views and clicks, but another study—only months older—declares outright that Friday after 3:00 PM results in the highest level of customer engagement. However, there is one thing specialists know for sure: regular posting leads to more likes.
You should post to your Facebook a minimum of once a week, a maximum of once per day except in the case of special events, contests, or unforeseen issues. Facebook should be used to keep in touch with your clientele; regular posting shows that you’re active and aware, and that leads to more shares and likes from your loyal customers, which in turn can lead to leads and conversions from their Facebook friends. You may come across businesses offering to sell likes, thousands for a few hundred dollars—not only is this against Facebook’s terms of service, but it also deprives you of the thing that likes really represent, and that’s customer engagement.
If you want likes, share your content. Cross post to your blog, Twitter, and your personal Facebook; tell your friends and customers about the new page, get those likes coming in from people who actually like your business! Respond to comments as they come in, and use your posts to keep people apprised on how your business, industry, and location are doing. You can post everything from advertisements to holiday well-wishes, so don’t hold back! As long as you’re posting once a day, sometime in the afternoon, eventually you’ll get the attention you deserve. Just don’t stop posting.
Twitter: a Little Bird Told You
If you’ve never gotten into social media before, Twitter may seem a little foreign. A 140 character limit? How could a business possibly utilize that to any success? As it turns out, quite well—businesses that utilize Twitter to the fullest can actually see a dramatic increase in sales, with even big companies like Dell and Pepsi finding a surprising increase In not only sales, but also engagement and customer satisfaction. Twitter is such a unique platform, the first social network to coin the term “microblog,” that utilizing it properly humanizes a company and makes them seem more down to earth. Of course, you’re already down to earth, as a small business. However, Twitter gives you the opportunity to connect with new demographics and strengthen relationships with your existing customers through a mix of simplicity and humor.
Signing up for Twitter is about the same as signing up for Facebook, except that you’re required to follow a certain number of other accounts before you can activate your account. It’s recommended that you follow users that are relevant to your company and your personal interests, although you can unfollow all of them later on down the line if that’s what you would be prefer. Twitter wants you to engage with their network from jump, but that doesn’t mean you have to. Take some time to build up your network, link up with other local businesses on Twitter, follow your favorite brands and builders; by making Twitter your own, you help root the account and keep it active.
Once you’ve signed up, it’s time for aesthetics. Your user image should, again, be a square image, preferably your logo. While the image displayed is closer to a 200 pixel square, Twitter recommends uploading one twice that size—400 pixels—to get the sharpest image possible. The cover or header image is 1500×500 pixels, although it won’t show completely most of the time. It’s a good idea to aim for these high dimensions when uploading to Twitter due to difference in display size among users; since Twitter is just as popular on desktop as it is on mobile, this will make sure that your page caters to everyone’s viewing resolution.
It’s common for small businesses to link their Twitter account to Facebook, announcing when a new Facebook post is made with a link to that post, but this really isn’t the best choice. Doing this keeps your feed active, certainly, but it also makes your business look like it has a laissez-faire attitude with regards to customer interaction. Instead, you should make a minimum of one post (or Tweet, as they’re called on Twitter) per day, relevant to what’s going on in your business at the time, and include photos. A picture is worth a thousand words, and that means they’re the only way to get past Twitter’s character limit.
Tweets that get the best response are those that engage customers, and one of the easiest ways to do this is by offering a fairly candid, sincere view into life at your business. A good Tweet may be a picture of one of your most valued employees caught asleep in the break room after a late night of studying, or of what your back room looks like at the end of the day. Likewise, a bad Tweet would be anything that you, personally, find boring. Maybe you’re having a sale, or a party, or another event—instead of posting “We’re having a sale!” include a picture of one of your employees, colleagues, or even the company mascot looking overly excited, and ask your followers “What’s got him so excited?” Include a link to the corresponding Facebook or blog post detailing the sale, and let the traffic flow.
Specialty: Tumbling Down the Rabbit Tube
There are plenty of other social networks out there to choose from, but whether they work for you and your business is an important matter to decide before you sign up.
Tumblr: this network caters more toward a younger, tech-savvy crowd with an interest in humanitarian efforts and the arts. Basically, this is where you’ll find the modern day Breakfast Club holding court online. If you’re aiming for a younger audience, from early teens to mid-twenties, this is the network for you. Tumblr works best with images and video, with a cool pop-out player introduced late last year, and allows you to track response to posts and interact directly with other users easily. It may take a little time to get used to the interface, which is quite different from other social networks, but with the site’s high-speed post sharing “reblog” feature, this is one place that viral marketing thrives.
Pinterest: if you’re into pictures, Pinterest is where you need to be. This network is designed as a series of virtual corkboards onto which interests are “pinned,” and each interest is part of a series or post full of high-quality images. While most Pinterest users are female, the applicable age demographic varies from teenagers all the way up to tech-savvy grandmothers who just want a place to share their newest knitting project. Pinterest is great for building interest and momentum in preparation for big events and new projects, but if you don’t work with it at least once a day there’s not much point to signing up.
YouTube: when you set up your Google account, you were automatically awarded a YouTube page—yes, even if you don’t need it. YouTube, as you probably know, is a platform designed for the sharing of video content, whether that’s pre-recorded or live, and generally has a slightly older demographic, starting with college-age users of all genders and moving up through successful middle-aged CEOs. Going viral on YouTube is the most lucrative, since the site offers a profit share of all ad revenue gained from a viral video, but you can’t predict viral marketing. If you want to use YouTube, you should post a video at least once every two weeks, relevant to your industry or business, and make sure you share it on all your social networks every time to maximize exposure.
One important thing to remember before signing up for one of these specialty networks is that it’s always better to be highly active on two social networks than moderately active on three or four, so make sure you’re splitting your time up properly between these different accounts. Optimizing your web presence takes focus, even if the social media aspect does seem to come down to talking to friends all day.