Business basics for social media virgins

So, you heard that social media is all the rage, and that Twitter and Facebook are the way of the future. You set up a company account and start promoting your product. Now, you’re pumped and waiting for the calls to roll in and new fans to start following your page. You wait. And wait. And wait.

Soon you realize no one really cares about your new page or the promotion that you devoted five status updates to. Perhaps social media just isn’t for you. Or maybe you’re just doing it all wrong.

For the social media virgins out there, here are some basic business-related tips:

1. Social media will not save you. If you think that you can rely on it just because it’s free and everyone’s talking about it, you’re wrong. Social media is one part of the marketing pie. How large that slice is depends on your business and your objectives.

2. Think of it like a cocktail party. If you attend an event and your only interaction is with the bartender and your beloved BlackBerry, people will not notice you. However, if you mingle, listen to others, ask questions, shake some hands, and, hey, maybe even throw in a shimmy shake, you start to build a presence. In social media, you need to work the community just like you’d work a room.

3. “The power of Twitter is in your sharing, not your selling” (@Iconic88). If you’re a constant self-promoter, people will not want to follow you. Follow others who are relevant to your industry, retweet their links, engage in conversations, and share information of value. At the very least, have a 1:4 ratio for self-promotion versus sharing other information that your followers will find value in.

4. Think before you tweet. Just because you have the power to publish at the click of a button does not mean you should pollute the space with mindless chatter or endless self-promotion. Don’t share what you ate for breakfast. And if you are responding to someone in a way that would add no value to the rest of your followers, use a private direct message instead. Come across an interesting article related to your industry, a top 10 list, or a shocking stat? Retweet away. People dig that.

5. Use photos. People like information that can be easily and quickly digested, and photos do just that. The right kind of photos, mind you. What do people like to see? If you work for a hotel for example, perhaps you want to showcase photos of your fabulous rooftop pool, or maybe the vibrant bellhop uniforms that your hotel is known for. Or perhaps you can do a honeymoon series, where you take a photo of a just-married couple that’s staying in the honeymoon suite and share the story of how they met (with their participation of course). The point I’m getting at is, post photos that are creative, and convey some sort of an interesting story.

Bottom line: social media is one part of the marketing mix that can be an effective way of keeping in touch with your fans and connecting with your community and industry. If you’re going to explore social media, make sure you set realistic expectations and understand that it is an ongoing campaign, not a one-off promotion. Creating any sort of community requires frequent attention and time to grow.

Amy Chan is the director of marketing at Kiwi Collection. She blogs at



Kevin Donald

Oct 12, 2010 at 9:23pm

Nice work. I like how to the point you are and your use of real-life analogies for the social media beginner. I think there are also some social media veterans that still need a refresher like this! Thanks.


Oct 12, 2010 at 9:51pm

Thank you Amy!