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Social Media Marketing: How to Start Social Media from Scratch

DATE PUBLISHED: February 18, 2015

BuildingFacebook recently announced there are 30 million small businesses with active pages, up from 25 million last November. That's pretty impressive. Of course, there are still millions of small businesses who aren't on Facebook — and perhaps you're one of them.

If so, we'd like to briefly look at how easy and fast it is to start social media from scratch. The trick is to keep things simple, stick to a schedule, and come up with compelling content. Here's how to do it.

Set up a blog. Blogs aren't typically lumped in with the term "social media," but since your social media marketing strategy will be built on cool content that attracts visitors, you'll need a blog. Setting up a blog can take as little as twenty minutes — for help along those lines, click here. Just remember to create a pipeline of content, write with your buyer personas in mind, and stick to an editorial calendar.

Create a Facebook page and Twitter profile for your business. This should take no more than 20 minutes. If you already have a personal Facebook account, the process will be even easier (if not, you'll have to create a personal account). The keys to a successful Facebook presence involve posting cool photos and blog content, all while keeping the tone less commercial and more attuned to your brand. In other words, don't flood your account with specials, sales, and deals. Instead post information content relevant to your industry and photos that extend your brand.

This, in a nutshell, is what social media analysts call the "80/20" rule: 80 percent of content should be brand-oriented, while 20 percent should be purely commercial. This isn't too say Facebook can't be useful for social media marketing purposes; but rather than use your profile to accomplish this, you're better off exploring paid ads.

Twitter, meanwhille, only allows 140-character posts, but it is nonetheless important from a social media marketing perspective. Specifically, the platform will allow you to build personal connections visually, extend your brand, and market content. Click here for more guidance along these lines. Furthermore, Facebook allows you to automatically post updates directly from the network to Twitter, saving you time in the process.

Then there are the things that can wait or are dependent on your industry. If your business is highly visual in nature — you're a retailer, coffee shop, jeweler, travel agent, etc. — set up an Instagram account. If your target audience is primarily female, then Pinterest is a good idea. And if you're in a professional services industry — real estate, law, health care, accounting, etc. — or want to network, it's a good idea to establish a LinkedIn presence. 

The impulse to do everything at once will be strong, but you and your team, of course, have a limited amount of resources. Start with the "low-hanging" fruit, build up a network, engage followers, and then slowly branch out into other networks. Throughout it all, be patient. You likely won't see a flood of new leads within a few weeks. Instead, treat social media as a channel with which to expand your inbound marketing efforts, exude expertise and professionalism, and extend your brand.

What do you think? What social media networks have delivered the most value to your company? Do you think social media is over-hyped? Is a network like Facebook becoming more or less important from a social media marketing perspective?