Maybe you've heard that you need to be involved in social media, but you don't know where to begin. The first thing you might want to do is make a plan. It's best to be prepared before your business' social media debut.

Prepare

  • Create a user-friendly website where customers can easily find your products and contact information.
  • Set concrete goals for what you want to achieve by being on social networks. Do you want to promote a product, drive more people to your website, get feedback or create brand awareness?

Learn

  • Find out your clients' favorite social media platforms. Looking for a new customer demographic? Research which social media networks they are most likely to join.
  • Pick one or two social media channels. Learn how they work — how to create an account, post content, and add visuals and videos.
  • Find out what people are looking for or discussing — look for trends.
  • Monitor how other businesses are engaging their customers.
  • Research your competitors' social media activities to see what is working best for them.
  • Join the conversation yourself to see how it works.

Analyze

  • Calculate how much time, effort and money you will need to write engaging content and maintain your presence on social media.
  • Figure out how often you should post and respond and the best time of day to reach your customers. Create a calendar to make sure that you post regularly.
  • Build trust by providing value-added information and not simply promotional advertising. Ask yourself — would you follow an account that posted the same amount of self-promotional messages?
  • Find an analytics tool to help you monitor and measure your progress in achieving your goals.

Network

  • Participate actively in the conversation to help you gain the trust of your network.
  • Have a protocol for dealing with positive and negative feedback.
  • Listen to your virtual community and be prepared to make improvements based on its suggestions.

It takes time to create a plan, but once it is completed you will be ready to make the jump into social media and establish a new way of communicating and networking with your customers.

Learn more about the pros and cons of social media. BDC also offers a free eBook on social media.