As the self-proclaimed social media maven around these parts, the majority of my blog posts espouse tips and tricks for upping your social media game, engaging your audience, and setting yourself apart from the rest. That is all well and good, and very useful advice (if I do say so myself.) However, I think I got a bit ahead of myself in that I didn’t think about how overwhelming simply getting oneself STARTED in the murky and seemingly bottomless world of social media could be—many business owners that could completely DOMINATE the world of social media give up before they even get started because the act of simply establishing a presence and creating a following just seems too intimidating, confusing, and time-consuming. Given the fact that I have recently undertaken a major, full-fledged social media campaign for a large client of ours who is essentially starting from scratch, trust me when I say that I know and feel your pain. It can be scary and frustrating, especially as a small, locally-owned business, to figure out how to initially find, reach, and connect with your audience successfully. After more webinars, research, coffee, and soul-searching than I care to admit, this is my advice for starting small and working your way up to that social media sweet spot.

1) MAKE AN INTENSIVE INITIAL PLAN. Before you start anything, think hard about your goals, your audience, and your tone—set deadlines and have some firm, creative ideas already in place for big items/specials you want to promote or push over the next coming months. Record ALL of this in a month-by-month plan that gives you something to work from and keeps your goals and ideas clearly defined and top-of-mind.
2) RESEARCH. Look to the big boys (Chik Fil A, Pizza Hut, Starbucks, Burger King, Subway, etc. etc.) for creative posting ideas that WORK and really connect with your audience, then rework and tailor those to better fit you and the product your pushing/audience you are trying to reach. Whether it’s photo contests, fill-in-the-blanks, or fans of the week, these mega-corporations are paying top dollar to ensure that their social media is the absolute best it can be, so any tips or tricks you can glean from them are sure to be beneficial.

3) MAKE A CALENDAR! In preparation for launching a serious social media effort for your business, equally vital to a long-term plan is a highly detailed calendar that highlights the various events happening at your location, in your community and in your surrounding city. You want to be aware of everything that is going on around you so that you can talk about and offer specials based upon the things that are important to your target audience. For instance, one of my client’s major target demographics are local college students, so you better believe I have made myself familiar with all of the campus going-ons, from football games to Greek life to Student Programming Board-sponsored events. Being in the loop on these items allows you to talk about things that are relevant and interesting to your soon-to-be readers and provides you with ideas of different outlets, organizations, and groups that you can reach out and connect with.

Taking care of these important initial steps should make it (a little bit) easier to find and form an online connection with your fan base. I am right in the thick of things with you guys, so I will keep you posted on how well my meticulous planning pays off! And if you ever need a little additional guidance on getting started, I’d be happy to help—send me a smoke signal at! Good luck, and may the Facebook force be with you! ☺