Personal Small Business Enterprise

Social Media: Simple and Safe Ways to Get Started

To tweet or not to tweet. Or Facebook. Or Instagram. Or whatever other social media tool becomes popular in the future.

It’s a challenge that eventually all businesses face. And, given the huge amounts of uncertainty associated with taking the plunge into social, too many businesses end up doing nothing because they’re afraid of misfiring.

However, there are ways to dip your toes into the social waters without committing to the space lock, stock and barrel. You can indeed become socially savvy without risking your hard-earned reputation. A go-slow, listen-first strategy is often the right answer for businesses trying to figure out how to leverage social. And you can do it for free as well. Here’s how:

Monitor important stakeholders.
If you’re not ready to setup your own presence on Twitter, you can still understand who’s out there and what they’re saying – and you can do it without opening up a Twitter account. This tip can be used to find out what customers, competitors, industry analysts, and more are talking about. As long as you know the Twitter handles of your stakeholders – easy enough to find in any search engine – simply surf on over to their Twitter pages and read to your heart’s content. For example, anyone can read Bell Mobility’s Twitter page. In fact, the same strategy will work with most social media services.

Leverage feeds.
Building on the point above, you can create an RSS feed of key Twitter hashtags, blog topics and social media keywords and have them automatically dumped into your RSS reader of choice. A few easy-to-use examples include Pulse and Feedly.

Get savvy with search.
Use search engines to find out what people are talking about in the social space. Search for terms common to your business, as well as your own brand names and those of your competitors. Use search engines embedded within social media platforms to further refine the process, then save your most valuable searches and run them on a regular basis. If you’re interested in real-time search and monitoring, you can utilize social media-focused search tools like Social Mention, Kurrently, and WhosTalkin as well.

Eventually, it’s probable that every successful company will have some sort of social media involvement. That’s because with very few exceptions, customers in virtually every sector use these tools to look for answers, confer with trusted friends and resources, and make purchase decisions. If your business isn’t aware that these discussions are happening, you’ll in all likelihood miss out on tons of opportunities.

The bottom line
It’s important to remember that initiating a social strategy doesn’t necessarily mean committing full-on to the process. You can start quietly to build your comfort with it before digging any deeper. There’s nothing wrong with walking softly at first. Get into it by keeping your ear to the ground. We’ll deal with other initiatives in future blog entries here.

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