You’re just about to – or have just taken – the big bold leap into self-employment. Congratulations! So when do you get started on social media? Before or after registering your business name? After you’ve sorted out your list of services? Before you get your new website live?

This is a question I get asked repeatedly and, as I tell my Blogging for Business students, any question that gets asked repeatedly is a great one to blog about. So here’s when to get started on social media marketing.

Starting your new business

Your business has likely started based on a presupposition: that a defined group of people (which I refer to as your ideal clients) are grappling with a particular problem, issue or inconvenience that your business solves.

In the heady rush of starting your new gig, you’ll likely need to:

  • Decide on a business name and register it
  • Register your domain name
  • Get your new website off the ground
  • Decide on a list of services to offer
  • Decide on how you’ll price these services
  • Start telling all and sundry what you’re doing now [link to My number on tip for new business owners]
  • Start lining up coffee dates with prospects
  • Figure out how you’re going to deliver your services and what documentation you may need, such as client contracts, manuals and procedures and other templates
  • Speak with your accountant or lawyer about anything you need to be aware of, including how you structure your business and any insurances you may need.

Somewhere in that list goes setting up your social media channels to reach new clients. So what time is the best time?

The tale of daily discounts

twitterSome years ago, I was engaged by Australia’s first daily deal website to create a Twitter strategy and roll out their Twitter channels for each major city in Australia and New Zealand. The strategy was simple but hugely effective: the company started two Facebook pages, ‘I love Sydney’ and ‘I love Melbourne’. These were the two cities that they first launched in.

For some months, they advertised these Facebook pages and highlighted the beauty and appeal of these two cities, attracting hundreds of thousands of fans to each page. They also asked plenty of questions: what is your favourite gym? What are your favourite cafes and restaurants? What hairdressers do you recommend?

They then used this information to approach these businesses directly to ask them to get involved in creating deals for attracting new customers. They count point to their Facebook pages to show that they had the numbers, plus that their fans had identified the business as favoured. They were using their fans to find their clients and using their clients to find further fans.

What time do you launch?

This company officially launched after they had built these two Facebook pages to several hundreds of thousands of fans each. The reasoning is simple: having a sizeable community to launch to means the business hits the ground running. Not only that, but they have a group of people who are actively participating in telling the company what they’re interested in and what they want.

After launching, the company told their Facebook fans that they were transitioning the page into a paid offering – daily discounted deals from their favourite businesses. They took about two weeks to continually remind people of this before they changed the Facebook pages’ names and added the company logo.

They lost a few fans. They disgruntled a few people, who voiced their objections on the page. But these people were a slim minority. Most fans of the pages were too busy getting excited by the new business and deals to notice these objections.

Launching to fans

The value of social media for businesses goes far beyond reaching more people. Social media enables you to listen closely to your target market or ideal clients. This is smart business. It’s far too easy to postpone the launch when you’re operating in isolation, accountable to nobody.

When you take a social approach to business, you’re actively soliciting people for their feedback, interest and commitment. When you launch your business, you’re launching to fans rather than attempting to create excitement from a starting base of zero.

In the pre-launch period, you’ve gathered invaluable information and insights into your target market and the gaps in the market through social media. You’re familiar with where your competitors let people down. You’re refining your story as you explain it to people online and gauge their responses. You’re learning the valuable lesson of adaptability which will hold you in good stead for years to come.

Adaptability is not only relevant to business but particularly to social media because it’s ever evolving. The savvy business operator appreciates its fluid nature and doesn’t get hung up when Facebook algorithms change or a new social media channel creates waves. The savvy operator knows that social media is a great place for customer support, market research, promotions and increasing reach, but that its always outside control. So we need to use social media as a meeting ground to invite people back to our businesses – our email lists, blog and website.

Good for people, good for business

Starting your social media channels before you launch your business also teaches two big things: that generosity is crucial to business; and to treat others how you wish to be treated.

Businesses are built on people and are part of a larger ecosystem. Showing people the same courtesy you expect from them, will gain you far more respect. Being generous demonstrates your business’s ‘likeability’ and motivates others to work with you and refer people to you.

Modern marketing is built on generousity. Sharing helpful, useful, relevant and valuable information – through social media marketing, email marketing and business blogging – helps attract leads, grow your reputation, convert and retain clients.
What’s good for people is good for business. This simple principle is good for your business’s bottom line, the ongoing sustainability of your business, your professional reputation, and the ecosystem your business is part of.

I run regular Social Media marketing face-to-face courses through Sydney Community College. Check them out and enrol now!