Social media for business - a beginner's guide

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It can seem daunting to start using Twitter or LinkedIn for business purposes now. You might feel like you don't know where to begin, or that you don't understand the etiquette of each site. Whatever your reason for wanting to start an account or be more active on a platform now, such as networking and/or keeping on top of relevant topics or trends, don't despair! It's easier than you might think.

Who to follow

Follow anyone you find interesting! There might be news outlets you like to read, specific brands that you are very partial to, or people whose opinions you value. Follow them, and then if they aren't sharing content you enjoy, it is just as easy to unfollow.

Soon enough you will start to see thought leaders in your industry and who others seem to follow. Look at your suggestions for followers on Twitter. On LinkedIn, generally people will only connect with you (or accept your invitation to connect) if they actually know you. You can also follow company pages on LinkedIn, so it's a good idea to see if your employer has a company page and to follow it.

How to join the conversation

The easiest way to start getting involved on social media is to like, retweet or comment on tweets that you find interesting. Find a relevant LinkedIn group and participate in the conversation. Give a point of view. If you read a particularly insightful article, share it! 

Organizing your twitter feed

Once you start using Twitter and following accounts you are interested in, you may find that there are so many tweets on your homepage that it's hard to follow. I recommend, at this point, you set up lists.

Click on your profile picture and the drop down menu that comes up gives Lists as an option. Here you can create groups of people/profiles. So for example, you could create a list called Friends and add all of your friends to that list so you can quickly go in and see what they've been tweeting about. Or an industry-specific list, or city-based. Once you create the list, you have a choice of making it private (only for you to use/view) or public, which means that other people could start following your list. Then when you come across a profile you'd like to add to one of your lists, you can click on the three dots next to the "follow" button on their profile page, and choose "add or remove from lists".

Social media etiquette

Does your company have a social media policy? You should check, because it may affect how you are able to use social media both at work and outside of working hours. 

In general you should be mindful of you post on your personal sites, even during non-working hours. .Be careful what you say. It goes without saying that we should be respectful and that social media might not be the right forum for engaging in negative feedback. Make sure you set your password and privacy settings appropriately.

Always include the source of your material. If you are sharing content you found online, tag the twitter account when you share the article. 

Respond when relevant. If someone asks you a question or comments on your post, you can like their comment or respond if applicable.

 

Social media can be a powerful business and networking tool, or even just give you a good idea to take to your next meeting. Give it a try and see where it takes you!