Social Media Best Practices for SOHOs: You Don’t Have to be Big to be Successful Online!

One of the benefits—and potential downfalls—of the online environment is that it is a great equalizer. The smallest company, including solo operations, can present a “big company” feel, effectively competing against the big players in their industries. This can also present a downside, of course, for those seeking goods and services from online providers; all that glitters is not, necessarily, gold, so caveat emptor certainly applies.

Still, for small companies, and even individual practitioners in service industries like consulting, law, accounting, engineering, etc., it can be relatively easy to establish a strong presence online.

We’ve done that for our own marketing needs, and we work with a variety of other small businesses and independent consultants to help them establish a “big brand” online. In doing this, we have found some very important best practices that really must be adopted to generate results:

1) Developing a specific schedule of activities and following the schedule religiously. I handle the bulk of my social media week on Sunday mornings, scheduling most posts for the following week. In addition there are various activities I have scheduled on a daily/weekly basis that include: monitoring incoming alerts for posts that might be scheduled on an ad hoc basis, checking for RT/follow opportunities, responding to direct messages, etc.

2) Committing to be consistent. I think the biggest contributor to failure in social media is not being consistent and not continuing to post on a regular basis. Too often, especially among solo practitioners who are very busy with running their businesses, there is a tendency to start posting and then stop, or to post sporadically. The best way to generate and maintain a following is to post consistently. Again, setting up–and sticking to–a specific schedule can help this become a habit that doesn’t have to consume a lot of time.

On the flip side, it’s not a good idea to post too often or people will unfollow you. I’ve done that myself when I find my streams being overwhelmed by one individual or organization. Finding the right balance will depend on your audience and your business, but generally we follow a schedule of 3-5 posts/day, plus any ad hoc posts or RTs that we may add as we come across new, relevant information.

3) Focusing on providing information of value to your audience. It’s not about what you want to say—it’s about what they might find useful to hear. You need to think about your audience and what’s important to them, or what information might be helpful to them, and then provide it. You should provide it from your own point of view, in addition to finding and sharing (“curating”) valuable information from others.

4) Repurpose content from other sources. One of the challenges that “solopreneurs” and others face is creating content on a regular basis. But, it’s possible to make use of existing content or to repurpose content in various ways. For instance, if you have a blog, those posts can serve as a starting point to generate social media posts, as can coverage you might receive in the media, brochures, newsletters, etc., that you’re already creating. We create content of various kinds for our clients and find that much of the information they already have can serve as good fodder for new material.

Don’t be afraid to revisit information you’ve already shared and share it again. Keeping an eye on the posts that generate the most interest can alert you to items that may be evergreen. Keep in mind that social media posts don’t have a lot of staying power and your audience is often transient, so it’s unlikely that people are going to see, and remember, posts that you’ve shared in the past.

5) Find, follow and unfollow people regularly based on your interests, interactions with them and value that you can either attain from or provide to them. It’s a good idea to monitor your social media channels regularly to make sure that spammers aren’t creeping into the mix. Those who follow you send a message about your brand to others, so you want to make sure your audience is consistent with your brand objectives.

These are the “big rocks”—the top best practices that we’ve found to be most beneficial. How about you? In what ways have you learned to effectively leverage the power of online communications?

Recommended Reading:

The Everything Guide to Customer Engagement

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