Hey kids, I was out of the "office" yesterday gathering goodies, but -- due to the magic of the Internet -- another one of my posts landed over at NJ.com. Take a look and let me know your thoughts:
What's what in social media
April 15, 2010, 2:16PM
When approaching social media the best place to start is by establishing a website for your business. This is your home base and also the foundation that will link together all of your social media platforms.View full size
A website doesn't have to be complicated. A one or two page website can be sufficient as long as it prominently displays a logo, the business' contact information, a brief company description, the hours of operation and maybe even a photo or two. OK, now that you've established an online presence you can start venturing into social media.
But where to start? There are social media outlets available for specific industries (for example, BakeSpace for chefs, Polyvore and Stylecaster for fashion designers, etc.) and then general sites that appeal to a multitude of tastes. You can think of it as the free, public pool versus the private, lap pool. It's better to start big and then work inward toward your particular niche. And right now the best place to start is Facebook (side note: I say "right now" because the Internet is always changing and if this was just a couple years ago I might have said Myspace, but that's quickly gone out of taste and is mostly used by teens and budding musicians). The first step is to create a Facebook Fan Page (you can find instructions here) for your business and then start attracting an audience. Start with the people closest to you and work outward from there. Reach out to friends and family and urge them to send requests to their friends and family. It may take a little time, but eventually you’ll build up a sizable network.
Next, set up a Twitter account. Even if you’re uncertain about micro-blogging, it's better to reserve a name than risk losing out. Luckily there wasn't a huge demand for "Kanibal Home" and I was able to start tweeting without complication (you can follow Kanibal Home on Twitter by clicking here).
And finally, I would suggest creating a blog. Wordpress and Google's Blogger both offer easy-to-use templates that make getting a blog started very simple. Even though in my past life (note: I mean former job, not anything to do with reincarnation) I was a publicist at a midtown public relations firm where I often had to run social media accounts for my clients, when it came to taking the jump for my own business I was a bit hesitant about blogging. Would anyone be reading my blog? Did I want them to read it? What would I write about? My advice: Just sit down and start crafting a post. Write about what you know best: your business. Discuss your mission, goals, upcoming events. After a little practice you'll realize that a blog is a great space to anchor all those thoughts that fly around in your head all day (I even very briefly contemplated having a weekly "Cooking with Kanibal" post to talk about my other hobby -- cooking -- but I eventually decided to put it on the back burner).
Social media is a way to create a community for your business and market your services, so keep the tone professional, but friendly. By engaging in social media you'll also be adding to the look-and-feel of your business so any residual visuals (like your Twitter background or Facebook image) should be consistent with existing marketing materials you already have in place. This will make you automatically recognizable to any existing customers and identifiable to new followers as you continue to bolster your online presence.
Once you’re settled and have a web page, blog, Facebook Fan Page and Twitter account established you might also want to think about tying everything together. Using your website as home base, embed icons and/or links to your company's social media platforms. Then link your Facebook Fan Page to your company's Twitter account. This will automatically reroute any Facebook posts to your Twitter feed -- getting the message across in two spots at once while saving you a bit of time.