#socialmedia101 for @anybusiness

I can comfortably admit that I’m not the most tech savvy person in the world. In fact, I should have my friend,  Steve, on annual salary for the level of IT support he provides me on a near-weekly basis (but instead I bake him cookies).  My computer programs are ‘so last year,’ all my electronics are covered in dents from my failed attempts to ‘fix’ them , and even then, they’re all soaked in tears. 

Social media on the other hand...  Now there’s a language that makes sense to me!   And, it seems, to my grandmother, boss, neighbour, and butcher, and maybe you too. 

Sure you’ve shared some LOL’s with your friends over Facebook, read your Twitter feed instead of reading a newspaper, and maybe you even know what I mean when I say #TGIF!  But you’ve probably never thought much about what you’re doing or how it might be used to help your business.  If you think about it, the back-and-forth of social media is a perfect place to have a conversation about your business products and services, and the industry you work in.  For free.

Don’t be fooled by social media’s ease of use and casual demeanour; its latent marketing power is strong.  Social media is “any website that doesn’t just give you information, but interacts with you while giving you information,” making it perfect for advertising, informing, engaging, and learning.  All good things in business.

These tools are entirely different beasts when used for marketing.  Before you become a professional ‘Pinterester’, get your plan straight.  Like everything else you do with your business, you need to plan plan plan!  Go through the following steps:

1. What do I want to get out of social media?
Remember: social media is by definition highly interactive.  Define your objectives so you can create strategies and tactics with intention behind your every move. 

2. How much time and money can be allocated?
Isn’t this one of the first steps in any business plan?  Many social media platforms and measurement tools are free to use, while others offer advanced features for a small fee.   I’ve listed some good free ones below to begin your exploration.

3. What is my ‘brand identity’?
If you don’t already have a business tone and voice, create one.  Use images and phrases frequently and turn them into trademarks.  It doesn’t matter how small your business is, you want people to trust you and remember you.  Note the Ontariofresh.ca apple - we do love that image, but that’s not why we’ve put it everywhere.   We’ve made this symbol, and by extension ourselves, recognizable.

4. Who is my audience?
Are you trying to appeal to consumers?  Wholesale buyers?  Strawberry farmers?  Where are these people located? How old are they? What social media platforms are they using and why? 

We can all understand the phrase “fish where the fish are.” Play detective and figure out the habits of the people you are trying to reach, and then try to devise a plan to deliver your message to them effectively.  Based on everything you’ve figured out so far….

5. … what platforms and tactics do I want to use? Why?
There are lots of different platforms and tools for social media, each with its own functions, purposes, values, and audience.  Get a feel for each one so you can make an informed decision on which to use and how go about this most effectively.

Social media is designed to be user-friendly, so take some tours, create a personal account, talk to friends, and get to the top of the game.  Don’t just use the ones you already know; learn some new tools and expand your repertoire and reach.

6. Measure and adjust
Social media platforms help you put content out and engage with your audience, while other tools help you measure these interactions.  Try out some of the measurement tools I identify below to track your progress, trends, and note successes so that you can tweak your tactics accordingly.

7. Be yourself!
Just because you’re speaking for a business doesn’t mean you need to use dryspeak. Social media can be fun, so be authentic, show your quirks, and let people get to know you! 

Happy tweeting!

Platforms Measurement Tools
Google Analytics
Facebook Insights

Got some burning questions about social media or anything else we do here on Ontariofresh.ca?  Tweet them at us! … (see what I did there?)

Learn the language with this easy social media dictionary.

- Madeline Ritchie, Program Assistant