Social Media is now almost compulsory for businesses and yet it is so confusing that many give up before they even get started.

Social media need not be the scary beast it is made out to be as long as you start slowly and invest the time and energy into starting up properly. Social media is a fantastic way to get your message out to lots of people at minimal cost, social media is just that—social! If there’s anywhere you want to be, it’s where the people are!

The first step is to ask yourself where are the people you want to reach hanging out? The most obvious choice is Facebook. At the time of writing this post Facebook has 1.06 billion monthly active users, 680 million mobile users, more then 42 million pages and 9 million apps.

The added bonus of starting out with Facebook is that you probably already have some experience in using it so you don’t need to learn the basics before moving onto business uses.

Facebook has made it very easy to setup a business page and once you have 30 ‘likes’ you will receive weekly stats so you can monitor the activity happening on your page.

When you have setup your facebook page it’s time to think about introducing another platform for you to use. We don’t want you to get bored now (or addicted)!

This is where you need to think a bit more before choosing as there are so many different choices available to you. Who do you want to reach and where do they hang out?

Do they like lots of small bits of information that often refers to some other really cool content?  Twitter provides this option.

Are they more visual and love to see images, create vision boards or collages? Then Pinterest could be where your efforts need to lie.

Are they professionals that like networking with other professionals? LinkedIn is the largest business-only social media platform there is and its uses are increasing every day.

What about the trendsetters in new media? They are all hanging out on Google +, so that might be worth exploring.

When choosing your second platform think about where you will make the most connections and more importantly where will you enjoy spending time each day? You need to spend lots of time monitoring and participating in social media to make it work for you so choosing one that you don’t like if a recipe for failure.

Once you have gone to the effort of getting setup don’t just let all your work go to waste, make sure you are talking to your audience regularly.

Think of social media as going to a party, you can’t just turn up and sell, sell, sell or you won’t be invited back. You need to introduce yourself, make some small talk, join in multiple conversations, listen to what others are saying with interest and use your own voice. Social media is about putting a personality behind the business.

If you see something you like and think others will too, share it. Always remember that you started social media to make new business relationships so don’t be afraid to send someone a tweet, a Facebook message, a link.

The more you engage, the more you’ll be regarded as the “go to person” in your field of business.

Finally, plan your tweets and posts in advance. It is very useful to have a bank of ideas that you can tap into each week so that you keep active and don’t disappear under the radar. A great way to do this is to create a strategy for marketing your product or service via social media.

This plan should include items such as what you’re promoting, what you’ll say about it, when to say it, what your audience wants to hear and getting it out there.

This is just a beginning for you entering the world of social media but should be enough for you to get started and build a passion for marketing your business via social media. I’m sure you will love how much fun you will have using social media with the added bonus of it becoming very profitable over time.

Now’s time to do a little self promotion! Tell us what your business is, your customers and your favourite social media platform. The best answer will be featured in one of our future posts.