When my boss asked me to start an Instagram page for our business, I was dumbfounded. The crotchety old grandma inside me couldn’t fathom the necessity of taking random photos with my phone and posting it to an app that wouldn’t even allow me to link to a website post.

Social media has become such a critical aspect of business that it’s getting harder to ignore. Even the silly ones like Instagram and Snapchat have a purpose. This is the 21st century, and everyone is accessing the world through their phones. Shopping, news, maps, music, it’s all done via mobile technology nowadays. It’s time to adapt. So, I made that Instagram account and starting reading about how to use it. Turns out, my boss was right — there is a place for Instagram in business.

Still a bit confused? Don’t worry, Women’s Post has you covered. Here are a few things you need to know before you start using social media (all types) for your business:

Focus/Know your audience: Understanding the demographics you are targeting with your social media campaign is vital to its success. Are you targeting young people, health-conscious people, business women, or working moms? This will help you frame your content. Make every post, picture, and link associated to that audience! Just because you think a picture of a squirrel is cute, doesn’t mean your clients do.

Find influencers: Before you start posting, gather a list of journalists bloggers, business leaders and other entrepreneurs. Follow them on social media, and retweet or comment on their posts if appropriate. The hope is that they will start to recognize your name and be more receptive to your work.

Make it about the conversation: It’s important that you don’t just throw information at your clients. Have a conversation with them. Respond to their comments on Facebook or their questions on Twitter. Ask questions and actually do something with their answers.  You can even go a step further and get involved in other similar social networks, like online hangouts or message boards. Join groups that follow the same influencers and engage in conversations. This will help spread awareness about your work and your business.

 Quality over Quantity: Sure, it’s great to tweet and post on social media numerous times a day — but if those posts are poor quality, then your clients won’t bother going to your website. Make sure that everything you post is professionally crafted, even if it’s something silly like a meme or a gif. Everything you do should be done with the purpose of expanding and spreading awareness of your business. Make sure your words are well chosen and your images are high-resolution and high-quality.

Use appropriate hashtags and tags: This is one of the most annoying and frustrating things about social media, but it’s the number one way your message or your business can hope to reach new clientele. Unless people share your posts, the things you write on the Internet are simply…there. You want people to find your stuff, share it on their own social media feeds, and then potentially go to your website to find out more. This is impossible without hashtags. If your post involves a specific person, make sure to tag them so they are aware of its existence. As the stars of the show, so to say, they will most likely pass it around the office, inspiring a whole new set of readers.

Know the network: Using Instagram is vastly different than using Facebook or Linkedin, but there is a way to use it properly in order to market your business. Using the right hashtags is much more important as the only link to your website is in your bio. For Linkedin, it’s all about the introduction to your post, what people read that hooks them in. Prepare individual posts for each network to ensure effective use.

Be creative: If your posts are repetitive, your audience will lose interest. You want them to always be wondering what you will do next. This will involve some out of the box thinking and real brainstorming sessions. Maybe try a campaign? Get involved in #MondayMotivation. Or play around with photoshop. The more creative, controversial, and outlandish the photo — the more attention it will receive.

Be patient: It will take a while for you to develop “followers” on social media. It may even take years for you to get to a point where you can compete with other businesses. The Internet is BIG and there is a lot out there. You will eventually find your loyal followers, but until then, keep plugging away. Slowly, you will build up more “likes” or “reactions” and your business will start to flourish.

Good luck!

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Author

Katherine DeClerq is the editor of Women's Post. Her previous writing experience includes the Toronto Star, Maclean's Magazine, CTVNews, and BlogTO. She can often be found at a coffee shop with her MacBook computer. Despite what CP says, she is a fan of the Oxford comma.

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