Today’s guest post is by Christi Millar, CYBF’s Director, Alberta.

For small business owners, social media should play a key part in your marketing strategy.  Most businesses starting out have limited marketing budgets – and social media is free – so it’s a given, right?  Before delving into social media, one thing you should ask yourself is – how much time do I have?

Two ways to begin establishing an online presence for yourself and your business are creating a profile on LinkedIn and writing a blog.  Keep in mind that one is more time intensive than the other.

If you haven’t already, create a profile on LinkedIn.This will help build your personal brand as owner/CEO of your company.  LinkedIn has great authority in Google searches (meaning your profile will rank high if someone searches for you) and LinkedIn allows you to share relevant information about yourself and your company.  It will take some time to set up your LinkedIn profile and begin adding your core group of connections – but once it is setup it only takes a few minutes a day to manage your connections.  Lastly, it provides an opportunity for you to recommend people you have done work with – and better yet, people can recommend you.  That way if someone does do a search on you, they’ll have immediate feedback on the quality of your work.

Blogging is a great way to interact with your client base, providing an opportunity to share your expertise and knowledge with a larger audience.  Blogging is particularly important for consultants and knowledge-based workers because it’s a way to establish yourself as an expert on certain subject matters.  In case you haven’t guessed, blogging is more time intensive but this can be counteracted if you create goals for your blog and stick to them.  Here are some ideas:

  • Determine how many times a week you want to blog.  It could be once a week, three times a week or every day.  Once you’ve decided, stick to that number.  Your readers will like to see consistency.
  • Develop a list of potential blog topics and start working on creating a library of pre-written posts.  This way if there are times when you’re too busy to blog, you’ll have an archive that you can draw from.  A “how-to post” is a great way to highlight your expertise and a “list post” is a great way to share a top five list of favorite {you fill in the blank}.
  • Blog about established Twitter trends.  For instance, on #FollowFriday you could write a blog post about one of your favorite people/brands that you follow on Twitter – or on #MusicMonday you can blog about one of your favorite bands.  This also helps you follow the 80-20 rule where 20% of the time you are adding a bit of your personality and interests to your blog.
  • Use comments for inspiration.  As your following grows, more people will begin to comment on your blog.  It is important to interact in the comments section with your readers – but often times you’ll find that your readers will inspire ideas for additional blog posts.

These are just two social media/networking options that are out there.  I encourage you to take the time to research these and the other sites that are out there (Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, etc).  People search for everything online and it’s important that they’re able to find you when they need you.

Good luck – and please feel free to follow me at @CYBFWest and @Christi_Millar

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