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Social Media Basics You Need to Know (But Are Too Afraid To Ask)

by Lindsey Bluher
money & life

social media laptop sunlight

The internet has changed in huge and wondrous ways since the days of free AOL CDs, and if you still feel vexed, it can be hard to ask for help.

Everyone else seems to know what they’re doing, but you’re still nervous about even the idea of Twitter.

It’s ok. It’s not too late. But yes, it’s time to get with it. Start by understanding exactly how social media can help your business.

First things first: If you don’t have a website, you’re doing it wrong.

Yes, it’s surprising to even have to type those words out, but it’s true — many creatives don’t know where to start with their online presence, and a personal website is absolutely the place to start. But if you’ve already nailed the www. game and find yourself wondering how to connect with your audience elsewhere online, this is the place for you.

Regardless of what you do, make, or sell, social media can benefit you in a huge way if done right. This is a fact. It has been a fact for a decade, and it will remain a fact long for the foreseeable future. So you’ve got to get on the tip of the sword.

I know, I know. Everyone says you *should* have a Facebook and an Instagram and isn’t your nephew all about Snapchat or something? Here’s the thing: You by no means need to have an online presence everywhere, but there are networks that you should consider to be absolutely necessary. Let’s breakdown what they are, and more importantly how to use them most effectively.

Facebook

So the ol’ Facebook should be a no-brainer at this point. But let me just say: You MUST have a brand page. Yes, this is different than the personal page people wish you a happy birthday on.

A brand page gives you helpful insights like how your posts are performing and what your audience demographic really is. It also lets you do something magical: Schedule your posts!

Let’s take things one step further even. You know you should should be using Facebook as a place to communicate what you’re working on, to show off photos of your latest project, and interact with your audience. You can even use if as a tool for finding new clients. But here’s a challenge: Why not also use it as a resource for other makers?

For example, maybe every so often, you post an interesting article about your industry. Or brag about the work of one of your favorite peers. The possibilities are endless, really. Use Facebook to talk about your brand, but consider also using it to educate about your field.

tweet twitter

Twitter

Don’t be afraid of Twitter. Let me say it again: Don’t be afraid of Twitter.

Yes, you have character limits. Yes, people use hashtags. But Twitter can be one of the most useful networks for connecting with a new audience, so get excited and let your personality shine!

If you’re brand new to Twitter, here’s what you should do immediately: Set up your account and follow a few people who you really admire combined with some popular blogs or websites. By doing this, you’ll get acquainted with how experts are already using the network and why they’re so successful. Hint: It involves engaging with and responding to their audiences.

In terms of what to post, consider it similar to what you’re posting on Facebook. It should be a healthy combination of your own content and posts from other people you find interesting. Twitter is also a more conversational network so don’t be afraid to post the occasional funny thought that pops into your head, but remember: Your brand comes first. Boom, you’re tweeting like a pro.

Instagram

If you’re a maker, you should be showing off what you’re making. Period. Instagram is one of the best, most popular networks you can use but again, there are a few things to consider. For example, does your twitter handle match your Instagram handle? Are you using filters heavily and constantly? Are you using your personal Instagram as a business Instagram?

When it comes to Instagram, use your business account as a way of showcasing your life as a maker, but remember that what you’re making should always remain the focal point. Consider this: If you’re posting selfie after selfie or constant photos of your dog, people might forget that hey you’re also a nature photographer. Everyone loves dog photos (and that might be one of the best secrets to social media success) but don’t forget: Your work should be prominent and obvious.

iphone instagram

Pinterest

Pinterest is really about more than your secret wedding board or carb-free recipes. Think of using it for two things when it comes to your business: a place to display your work and a place to get inspiration. Use it to link actual posts or projects on your website and therefore sell your work. That’s exciting in and of itself.  And while you’re making sales and spreading the reach of your work via repins, Pinterest is a nice way to get inspired by the work of other makers in your field.

Another creative way to use Pinterest is found in appealing to potential clients. For example: Say you’re pitching to a bride-to-be some ideas for an engagement session or wedding invitations. Create a board just for her containing examples of your previous work as well as inspiration from other sources. It’s a great way of showing what you’re capable of as well as giving some direction to your vision.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn isn’t the most community-centered network out there and it’s likely not a place you’ll make many sales. However, it is a way of setting yourself apart as a professional. Update your profile with a great headshot, information about your current and previous projects, and if you own a small business consider creating a business listing. LinkedIn is great because it’s another place someone can potentially find information about you and therefore contact you about a potential gig. Present yourself like a pro and get pro level work.

Online Portfolio Tools

Some people use Pinterest for this, but it really depends on your industry. For example, most designers use dribbble, writers love clippings.me, and photographers tend to maintain and cultivate their Flickr profiles. You obviously want to showcase your work on your website, but having a robust portfolio available online isn’t something to overlook.

Social media can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Create a schedule. Stick to it. Measure your performance. Then adjust as needed. Your audience is out there waiting to like, retweet, double-tap, pin, and message you. Give them the ability to engage wherever they’re at.

If you’re ready to get serious about social media for your business, check out Get Social: Connecting Your Business Channels.

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Lindsey Bluher

Lindsey Bluher is the Social Media Specialist at CreativeLive. Enjoy pictures of her dog by following her on twitter or Instagram @lindseyblue