5 Social Media Rules for Entrepreneurs

A Dried River Bed is like an abandoned Twitter stream - neither one has much to offer.

A Dry River Bed is like an abandoned Twitter stream - neither one has much to offer.

Few things are more pathetic than looking at the abandoned twitter stream of a business. They start off robust and full of hope before dwindling to a few short screeds touting some sale before finally growing stale and stopping cold. Does this sound familiar?

Don’t let this happen to you or your business. Here are my five social media rules for Entrepreneurs – both big and small.

  1. Just do it. Waiting for a perfect time only ensures that you’ll miss the opportunity. Don’t overthink this. Figure out what you’d say to someone you meet in an elevator about your business – not your normal elevator pitch but what you’d say to someone who already knows about your business. You could talk about the weather but how will that help your customers and your business? If you are busy say so, if you have new products, let people know.  Twitter posts are only 140 characters – that’s only about 15-25 words, tops. If you as an entrepreneur can’t come up with 15-25 words about your business, then maybe you need a new business.  
  2. Think it through. Yes, I just said don’t overthink it, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t think before you tweet or post.  You should always ask yourself “why would anyone care about this?” If you can answer that question succinctly then post or tweet away. Basically if you’ve asked your customers to follow you on Facebook or Twitter – maybe you should give them information that is relevant to your customers about your business. As in “we just got a new shipment of blankety-blanks, stop by and see them for yourselves”, or “we only have 3 of the extra special whiz-doodles left, let us know if you want us to save you one”.  Keep it positive, this probably isn’t the place to complain about balky suppliers or problem customers.
  3. Don’t stop. Every next, new thing starts out as a shiny bauble that is the the apple of every entrepreneur’s eye, before slipping away to the island of broken toys. While you may hope that your 140-character missives will go viral attracting hundred’s of thousands of followers, more likely you’ll be lucky to collect 100 or 200 followers who care enough about your business to become a fan or a follower. Don’t scoff at that number. Those 100 or 200 people can be contacted for zero cost and while it may not make an immediate impact today, it can over time. Keep at it. It takes only 1 minute to type out your message and if you do it every day it becomes a habit. Sure most days you’ll have more important things to worry about, but don’t ever be tempted to neglect your marketing.  Why wouldn’t you keep using a tool that is free and one that creates yet another way to speak to and with your customers?
  4. Collect Data. Pay attention to what you tweet or post. If you tweet about a special – track how many specials you sold. Consider offering tweet or facebook only specials or coupons, or buzzword bucks, or whatever you want to call them. Then find out how many times they were used. Find out if your tweets are being retweeted. Keep track of the number of fans on your facebook page. Try and determine if there is a correlation between # of followers and sales. This isn’t something you do for a day but something you should be doing in all parts of your business over time. Figure out what day of the week is your slowest and see if you can increase that day’s  business 10% by focusing your social media efforts on it. Keep experimenting until you find a combination or a solution that works for you and your business.
  5. Have Fun.  This isn’t rocket science – unless of course you are a rocket scientist.
    You don't have to be a rocket scientist to Twitter, although NASA's rocket scientists do, in fact, Twitter.

    You don't have to be a rocket scientist to Twitter, although NASA's rocket scientists do, in fact, Twitter.

    Don’t sweat it. You may not be a natural social media user – but your customers probably already are. When my 60-something mother-in-law is using facebook and my 60-something father-in-law is on his 2nd iPhone – your customers are ready for this. Of all of the challenges that you as an entrepreneur face – figuring out how to use Twitter or Facebook should rank pretty far down on the list. But it’s a challenge that is easily solved. You can’t learn how do something watching from the sidelines. So cross it off your list and jump in with both feet, or hands as it were, and figure it out. In a few short weeks you’ll begin to enjoy the chance to whip out your daily message and to engage with customers in a new way.

I could list another 20 things you should or shouldn’t do but then that would miss the point. The important thing is that you as an entrepreneur take advantage of the benefits that social media offers while forgoing some of the mistakes that far too many businesses make.

So is there another rule that I should add to my list? Let me know if you agree or disagree with the above list, or about anything else that is on your mind. -t

PS. For a more exahustive list you can also check out my 7 social Media Rules of Thumb.

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  1. #1 by Judy Ossello on 2010/08/27 - 15:16

    Thanks for focusing on the entrepreneur perspective! I just started and have that new kid at a new school feeling so this helps give perspective.

    I’ve found Brent Ozar’s Simple Twitter Book helpful for understanding the conventions and getting started, but the best teacher is always experience.

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