Traverse City Record-Eagle

January 26, 2014

SCORE: Using social media to position your business

BY SHENANDOAH CHEFALO
Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — TRAVERSE CITY — The question is no longer if your start-up or existing small business should use social media. Instead, the question is how to use it.

Social media is an increasingly important business tool for communication, promotion, recruitment, and lead generation, and there are a growing number of social media sites. They include Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, Foursquare, Yelp, and many more. The options can be overwhelming and many entrepreneurs are not sure which social media tools may be most effective or the best way to get started.

One of the first steps you can take is to enter your brand name on Knowem.com to see if your name has already been claimed on various social networks. This will help you find one version of your brand name that is available on all of the top networks to ensure consistency.

After deciding on a consistent social media brand, you must then determine which social media sites may be best for your business. Some of the most popular social networking sites and reasons why you might want to consider them include:

n Facebook: Most widely-used social media tool with more than 1 billion users. You can reach a massive audience with a diverse array of content types.

n Twitter: Good for frequent updates or brief content with a “timeliness” factor.

n Google+: Use if you have a physical location and want to appear in local search results.

n YouTube: Helpful for product demos, testimonials, or putting a human face to your brand.

n LinkedIn: Primarily for the business to business category or reaching a more professionally oriented audience.

n Pinterest: Good for targeting a female audience.

n Instagram: Consider if you can create interesting visual content on a regular basis.

n Foursquare: May be helpful if you have a brick and mortar location.

Once you’ve chosen the social media site or sites that will work best for your business, target audience, and goals, develop a plan to keep your social media site(s) updated and relevant. Managing multiple networks can be daunting and time-consuming. However, there are tools such as Ping.fm and HootSuite that make it easier by allowing you to manage all of your accounts on one site and schedule your posts or messages in advance.

For further guidance on starting and growing your small business, contact Traverse City SCORE at 888-796-4913 or visit www.UpNorthScore.com to schedule a free and confidential appointment with an experienced SCORE mentor.

Shenandoah Chefalo is a certified volunteer mentor with Traverse City SCORE and the owner of Chefalo Coaching & Consulting, a business consulting and life coaching firm.