Special Report: Social Success – How to Connect With Customers Through Social Media

I've been speaking at a lot of events lately about social media, entrepreneurship and marketing. The one key message that I keep hearing from business owners is their feeling of being completely overwhelmed by the numerous social-media platforms and the lack of time they have to participate in even one of them. They already have to deal with all the other aspects of running their business, so how can they possibly find any more time?

Some business owners have resorted to outsourcing their social-media activities. Others are throwing their hands up and screaming for help.

Here are some ways you can start feeling less overwhelmed and more empowered by the tools available to you:

  • Social media is a tool, not a burden: The first step is a shift in attitude. Don't fear social media. Most people have conquered how to use a telephone or email over the years. Social media is simply another tool to help you communicate with clients, potential clients and an expanded audience. The tools are there to empower you and make you more efficient, not the other way around.
  • Have a plan: Understand what you're trying to achieve. At the very least, you should be managing your brand and reputation. Set your objectives and targets so you can measure whether you're effective.
  • Determine where your audience is: Before you choose the specific social-media communication tool, figure out who you're communicating with and where they spend their time. Facebook continues to be the most used social-media site, but other popular ones in Canada include Tumblr, Twitter and LinkedIn. You should also understand the demographics for your industry. Pinterest, another popular and fast-growing site, is dominated by women at an 8:2 ratio. So if, for example, you're in the spa or retail business catering to a female clientele, you should probably be on Pinterest.
  • Choose the social-media tools that work best for you: If you're a great writer with good content to share, then writing blog posts makes sense for you. If you're grammatically challenged but are great on camera, try posting video clips on YouTube instead to share your ideas.
  • Stay focused: Master one platform before you move on. If a new social-media tool comes along, don't be distracted by the "new shiny object." Determine how much time you have weekly or monthly to allocate to investigating the new tools.

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