I recently did a seminar about social media to a group of business owners (small and medium sized businesses who are starting out in social). It made me realise that it’s not really the ins and outs of how to use twitter, Linkedin, Hootsuite etc that they really need (although they probably think it is). It’s what to say that they need help with. It’s always the most common question I get asked.

What I’ve found when I run training courses on specific platforms such as Linkedin is that what most people really need to develop is some sort of plan on what to write or ‘share’. This is a called a ‘content strategy’ by us marketing folks. But really it comes down to understanding what your customers care about in relation to what you do and what makes you stand out.

So here are a few tips to helping decide on what to post out there…

  • Try to get inside your customers heads – why do they use you, or your product, what interests them about it – or what pain does your service or product fix for them
  • Choose a role for yourself / your business in social media. For example be a ‘technical expert’ or ‘rebel rouser’. Stick to this as much as possible – think of it as ‘brand building’ what would you like to be known as by your customers.
  • Find stuff online and ‘share’ it. This is the easiest thing to do nowadays – just look for the ‘share’ buttons next to most articles or news items on most websites (see the bottom of this article to see the buttons I mean). Find stuff that will be of interest to your customers and reflects your role. You don’t even have to ‘comment’ on it, but it’s good to as it shows you have an opinion. Also, it means you don’t have to produce lots of original content – which often really scares many people. Original content is great, but if you’re really not comfortable with writing it then don’t, or pay someone else to do it if you have the cash.
  • ‘Comment’ on other people’s posts e.g in Linkedin, twitter, facebook etc or on articles, posts or forums you see online (again see below for ‘leaving a reply’, or click the speech bubble above to the right of this articles title). Lots of people read posts, very few comment, so standout from the rest. Of course this does require you to be looking for relevant articles, news items, blog posts etc online. But it’s easier to find it and write a quick comment than it is to create it.

And remember it’s better to say something than nothing at all – as a wise person once said “the squeaky wheel gets oiled”