Social media provides a way for both large and small business owners to have a way to compete on the same playing field.  These five simple steps will help you get started.

1)  Customers Know Best

Let them tell you what they like, which social networks they use, and what the best way to market to them is.  Social media is one of the best and most convenient ways to consistently reach your customer base, so take advantage of this medium by learning how to meet their needs in a more informal environment.

2)  Time is Money

It is virtually free to set up a Facebook or Twitter page for your company.  However, these outlets require work—they are not free.  You must be committed to constantly updating your pages and providing fresh content for those interested in your service.  Your customers expect you to use social media as a touchpoint to reach them, so answer their questions and give them new ideas frequently.  Realize that this approach does not denote “free”ness.

3)  Got Followers?

Small Business Social Media

Social Media is not for everyone, but small businesses can greatly benefit if they do it right. Start today!

The number of followers you have on Twitter or the number of “Likes” on Facebook does not determine your company’s success.  Nike has over 4 million fans on Facebook, but you don’t have to get there.  Instead of trying to get hundreds of followers overnight (things in this world don’t happen overnight anyway), focus on the quality of your audience and their enthusiasm about your service.  Numbers will come with time.

4)  Self-Promoting Social Media

This is not the right approach.  Don’t use your social media touchpoints to consistently promote your company and your products or services.  Focus on the individuals within and behind your company.  Also, focus on your customers.  If they drive your business anyway, it would be best to stop throwing new about yourself in their faces and just listen to them.

5)  Become a Social Media Apprentice

Obviously there are already hundreds of experts out in the social media sphere.  Make sure that you take note of both really good and really bad social media campaigns already in the industry.  Do NOT copy or infringe on their actual ideas, but pay attention to the principles behind their strategy and see if adjusting those can work for you and your company.

These are some great pointers, but if you are a small business owner with an interest in social media, the most important step to take is to try.  Social media optimization can be outsourced or done in house, but practice makes perfect!

Jamie Bates