Social Media sites are quickly developing and consumers are using the sites to find businesses and products for them, and becoming a “must-have” for businesses as  consumers use the sites to find, rate, and rave about businesses and products. These sites give businesses an opportunity to connect with current and potential customers, market their products/services, and track new business leads. However, using social media requires invested time and understanding, and for a business to get the most out of the social media they are using, they have to know how to use it.


Discovering Social Media Use for Your Business-Webinar, June 27, 2012social media hand
Amanda Bergstrom, NCDC Graduate Assistant

Are you unsure of which social media sites your business should be on or why you should become invested in using them? This webinar looks at the top five social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Foursquare) including: statistics for businesses, general information, user demographics, site limitations, consumer expectations, and example business pages.

Using Social Media for Your Business-Webinar, July 18, 2012
Amanda Bergstrom, NCDC Graduate Assistant

Do you have questions on how other businesses accessed social media tools you cannot find or wondering what you should be telling your followers each week? This webinar explores the ins and outs of several social media sites including: how-to tutorials on acquiring extra tools, using merchant dashboards/business statistics, gaining new followers, dos and don’ts of posts/tweets/pins,  and example business pages & posts.

Do's & Don'ts of Social Media

5 Easy Steps to Follow

  1. Choose 1-2 people to represent your brand
  2. Keep it simple
  3. Use correct spelling & grammar (reflection)
  4. Different Media-try photos, graphics, videos, info graphics
  5. Remember who your audience is & what they are looking for (NOT what you are looking for)

Do's of Social Media-Extended (pdf)

5 Things to Avoid

  1. Using site names or taglines people can’t find
  2. Using employee names or information without permission
  3. Using foul language, putdowns, or being rude
  4. Ignoring fans & followers (questions/concerns)
  5. Constantly discussing number of fans/followers

Don'ts of Social Media-Extended (pdf)


When it comes to posting on social media sites you have to remember that you are a BUSINESS with an image to uphold. These means avoiding the easy pitfalls of social media sites and etiquette. While many personal social media site users post in "text talk", use foul language, forget spelling & grammar rules, and post without consequences - you as a business cannot. A good rule of thumb to follow is, If I would put this on a sign in my place of business, then I can post it on the site. If I wouldn't, then I shouldn't. Also, if you find yourself reverting to "text talk" to stay within character limitations for a post - try shortening the information, rewording, or adding a link instead.

Promotional vs. Additional Posts

percent chartFollowers and fans will choose to come to your social media site to find out more about your business, products, services, offers, etc. (promotional posts) but they will stay because you offer them MORE (additional posts) than they came for. These additional posts can include photos or videos of your events, employees, or sales; community or related news/events; coupons, discounts, or contests; and anything else not directly related to selling your products or telling your followers who you are or what you do.

The science behind these two types of posts is maintaining a balance for how often you post in each area. This is your decision and can be determined by what you want to offer, what type of business you are, or what your customers/clients/followers are looking for. The best way to decide is to ask - send out a survey, create a poll, or ask some one-on-one questions.

A good starting point is a 20/25% promotional posts to 75/80% additional posts split.

Social Media Defense Strategy

When it comes to running, using, or managing social media you, as a business/owner, need to be aware that disasters can happen. Social Media is designed to be shared and public - two things that make it easy for words or actions to be mistaken or for upset customers/followers to take action (behind the comfort of a computer screen & anonymity). Thus, every business should have a defense strategy in place in case someone has to deal with an upset customer/follower online.

Prevention: A good start to a defense strategy is having steps in place to PREVENT the need for a defense. First, make certain all employees running the social media site(s) know the plan. You don’t want the one employee who does not know the plan to be the one dealing with the situation. Next, create a social media statement letting your followers know what will happen if they "break the rules" of posting on your site. You can place this statement on all social media sites and use it to refer back to when you need to delete a comment or block a user. This will save yourself the trouble of explaining it all out later. An example statement: *We reserve the right to remove any insensitive or harmful remarks from our page*

Delete Posts Without Explanation: Two types of posts on social media sites fall under this category (1) Offensive/harmful posts directed at individuals and (2) Spam posts.

  • Posts directly attacking you or your employees. These are comments which have nothing to do with your business, products, or customer service; but are personally attacking you or an employee. These can be deleted immediately and do not need to be explained. You again may block this person from your site OR report their comment to the social media site (there is often a button to push on the comment). After a post like this has occurred you can post yourself saying, "Any comments directly attacking persons associated with this business will not be tolerated and will be reported to the managers of 'social media site'. Thank you."
  • Spam posts. These comments have nothing to do with your business (unrelated political or social opinions, spam blasts). You can delete these with no explanation as they are not concerning your business or services. You can also block those posters from posting again to your site to avoid similar posts in the future. *Since these posters are not on your site for your information you are not "losing" a true follower.

Social Media Disaster Plan

Disaster Plan: If the “worst” should happen and you have an upset poster NEVER ignore them or simply delete the post – this is the worst thing you can do. The poster may then post again (describing your unwillingness to address the situation) or talk about your business somewhere else (review sites). *If you are curious what has been said about your business in other places, Google your business name and take a look, and respond to the comments if you can.

Social Media: Keep it, Fix it, or Leave it?

If you are curious how well your social media site is doing or are wondering if you should switch and try another site here are some easy indicators on how well your site is doing, how you can fix it if you need to, and reasons you should move on when it's not working.

When to Keep Your Social Media Site:

If you are curious how well your site is doing, take a moment to evaluate your progress. This can be done quite simply by making a check off list of things you wanted to see and what you expect, including these:

  • You have had or are having a steady increase in followers (once you have passed 100-150 followers a decrease in new followers is of less concern)
  • You have customers, clients, friends, or family that have discussed your social media site
  • Coupons, discounts, or contests you have issued on the site have been used
  • You have seen an increase in traffic to your website
  • You have a person(s) who is continually running and keeping up the site
  • You continually have things to say or post

How to Fix Your Social Media Site:

If you are seeing little to no increase in the number of followers you have or comments/shares/reposts/likes to your posts try one or more of these steps:

  • Advertise your social media site - signs in your store, links on your website, handouts to customers (often they do not know you have one)
  • Double check site name - if followers can't find you on the social media site they assume you do not have one
  • Send messages or invites to your private friends - ask them to follow you, easy way to increase traffic (can only do this through your private account on that social media site)
  • Change up posts - use photos, graphics, videos, or add in community news, social events, etc.
  • Ask customers, clients, friends, or family to rate your site - get hands-on information about what they think & how you can do better

When to Leave a Social Media Site:

This decision should not be made quickly or without trying to fix the problem(s). Social Media sites, just like other forms of marketing, will take some time to catch on - wait to review your site until around 6 months and evaluate how you are doing and if you should change. If you do not like what you see, try fixing it first, it could be a simple change instead of deleting and starting over. However, if you have fixed your site and you are still not satisfied the following reasons are why you should leave:

  • You have very few followers, have not been gaining followers, or have lost followers
  • Your posts do not have "likes" or "comments" and have not been reposted, repinned, retweeted, or shared
  • Your customers, clients, and friends still do know you have one
  • You do not have a person(s) to run the site properly - does not have adequate time, energy, or experience
  • You do not post because you have nothing to say

Social Media Site Options & Descriptions

Today you can choose from a large, and growing, number of social media sites for your business. Each site offers different advantages, disadvantages, and fan bases - it is up to you to decide which site(s) will work best for you and your business. Following is listed the top social media sites in the United States with descriptions, list of terms, pros & cons, and additional information.

1. Facebook

Facebook is currently the number one social media site in the United States. This is due to the overwhelming number of users (both personal & business) and the continuous updating of content and usability. For businesses Facebook is an online forum where current & potential customers can:

  • Have one-on-one chats with their business about products, services, etc.
  • Learn new & pertinent information quickly (events, new products)
  • Discover the “personable” side of the business they use through photos, videos, and fun comments

Limitations: (1) People must have Facebook to use your site (they can view a shell of the site but not use it) (2) You must take the time to post often (however Facebook now has posting options for posting days to months in advance) (3) Users can post on your wall (includes upset customers & spam)

Expectations: Users want (1) useful & timely information (2) deals or promotions made available (3)  to see more than one post a month (4) to hear from people not robots or advertisements (5) interaction - includes discussions & asking questions

Business Site Must Haves: (1) Website address (2) Contact information (3) Location & business hours (4) Business description (5) Photos

Terms: Facebook Glossary

2. Twitter

Twitter is currently the number three social media in the United States. This is largely due to the instant and continuous information the users give and receive. For businesses Twitter is an online update board where current and potential customers can:

  • Quickly discover new & pertinent information offered by the business
  • Find current deals & promotions offered by the business
  • Discover connections between your business & others (through shared followers)

Limitations: (1) You can only have 140 characters per "tweet" (includes spaces & punctuation) (2) Tweets need to occur more often (your tweet may get lost in the mass of tweets/second) (3) You must take the time to post often (no automatic posts, unless you use an outside site like TweetDeck)

Expectations: Users want (1) news & information (2) up-to-date tweets (3) links to longer information (4) you to retweet their posts & mention them

Business Site Must Haves: (1) Website address (2) Contact information (3) Location & business hours (4) Logo or significant profile picture (5) Business Description (6) Designed background and/or colors

Terms: Twitter Glossary

3. Pinterest

Pinterest is currently in the top five of social medias in the United States. This is largely due to the instant popularity of the site and the growing number of followers (mainly women). For businesses Pinterest is an online pin board where current and potential customers can:

  • Search through your businesses “boards” & “pins” to learn what YOU think is important & pertinent to your business
  • Share or like your boards & pins onto their own pages-making them accessible to their followers
  • Follow the website links of your boards & pins back to the original website, source, story, product you “pinned” it from

Limitations: (1) You can only "pin" from sites with photos or with your own photos that you upload (2) If you are creating a post, you must cite your source (3) Pins occur more often on the main page, your pins may get lost in the masses (4) Has more personal users than business users

Expectations: Users want (1) to see active boards with several pins (2) to see relevant pins, things they will share (3) to find pins they can use and will repin

Business Site Must Haves: (1) Link to Website address (2) Link to Facebook or Twitter (3) Location (4) Logo or significant profile picture (5) Business Description (6) Boards with relevant names (7) Pins in each board

Terms: Pinterest Glossary via NCDC

4. LinkedIn

LinkedIn has slowly been increasing its number of users in the last 3-5 years. The highest number of users are industry professionals in sales, marketing, advertising, and finance. For businesses LinkedIn is mainly a business-to-business connection where potential BUSINESSES:

  • Learn about what your business offers
  • Contact you for possible negotiations and/or collaborations

LinkedIn is mainly an online resume site where potential EMPLOYEES can:

  • Learn about what your business offers
  • Contact you for potential job openings & benefits

Current demographics of LinkedIn users:

Limitations: (1) You must have a "business" email to set up your page for your business (i.e. (2) More of a resume/connection site for personal use (not promotional for business)

Expectations: Users want to know (1) about you, where you have worked & what you can do (2) what you can offer them or their business

Business Page vs. Personal Page: A business page has (1) Short business description (2) Links to employees (3) Type of company (4) Website

A personal page has (1) More information offered (2) Detailed “resume” (3) Connection to Twitter & Facebook accounts (4) Make connections to other business owners

6. YouTube Channel

YouTube is currently number two in all social medias in the United States. This site has grown exponentially in the last few years and continues to offer both private and business users more face-to-face interaction.

Reasons to Have a Channel: You Have (1) several useful & often viewed videos (2) videos before a channel (3) a series of videos (4) videos of differing content (5) videos connected to your website or business (6) someone who understands video uploading, tagging, sharing (7) you are gaining followers & video views

Tips on Making a Channel: (1) Pick a name people will recognize (2) Design it with a background, banner, menu of videos, description (3) Keep it up-you don't need a video per day but at least one per month (3) Connect to other social media