5 Steps to a Stronger Social Media Presence

Social media and social networking sites present tremendous opportunities to all kinds of business, including web design. If you’re not currently active with social media you are missing out on one of the best methods for networking and for free or low-cost marketing.

Many designers who are using social media are not getting the most out of it. In this post we’ll look at 5 simple steps that you can take to improve your effectiveness with social media, regardless of whether you are already a user or if you have not yet gotten started with social media.

Step 1: Identify Your Goals and Priorities

It’s important to set a solid foundation for your efforts with social media by first defining what you hope to get out of it. This is a critical step that many designers and freelancers overlook. Yes, social media can have a significant impact on your business, but you need to have some direction or else you will be wasting your time.

Some common goals or priorities for designers who are using social media include finding new clients, networking with other designers, increasing traffic to their website or blog, improving name recognition and branding, finding a new job, and simply enjoying activity with the community of users. It’s possible to improve your business or career in any number of ways with social media, but you need to be aware of what is important to you because it should shape the way in which you use social media.

Step 2: Target a Few Specific Social Media Sites

There are literally hundreds of social media sites out there, and there is no way anyone can or should use them all. In order to make the best use of your time with social media, and to avoid having it consume all of your time, it is best to choose a small number of social media sites that you want to use actively and on a regular basis. For designers it may be major sites like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or Digg, or it could be smaller niche sites like Design Bump, The Web Blend, and many others.

When choosing your targeted sites, keep your goals and priorities in mind. If you’re looking to send traffic to your website or blog any of the major sites will have potential, and smaller niche sites can be a great choice for getting targeted traffic. If you’re not interested in getting traffic to your site or sharing useful links with others, social news sites can basically be eliminated and you can focus on sites that are more networking-oriented. If you’re hoping to use social media to land a job, being active on LinkedIn or other professional sites would be a good decision.

So as you can see, the different social media sites have their own distinct characteristics that you should consider. Take some time to check out the audiences of the sites that you are evaluating and find out which audiences would be the best fit to help you achieve your goals.

Once you have a few sites targeted (I would recommend 2-5 sites), set up your profile if you have not already done so, and start to participate.

Step 3: Find Tools to Help

While social media presents great opportunities for you and your business/career, it is also very easy to spend way too much time using social media. You can make the most of the time that you have available and keep yourself organized by finding some tools to help. Here are a few to consider:

Tweetdeck – With Tweetdeck you can update your profile on Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Google Buzz and more. Tweetdeck also helps to organize your conversations across social media and to see when other people are talking about you.

HootSuite – HootSuite is an online app that acts as your social media dashboard. You can organize your use of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace and more. You can schedule messages for the future, track your stats, and even collaborate with team members.

Twirl – Twirl is similar to Tweetdeck and HootSuite in that it helps you to manage your various social networking profiles.

There are hundreds or thousands of other useful apps that may be able to help you. You can search marketplaces like the iPhone app marketplace, Android app marketplace, or you can follow leading sites like Mashable and ReadWriteWeb that often post on various apps.

Step 4: Set Time in Your Schedule for Social Media

If social media is a priority for you and your business, you will need to set aside time to participate at the sites you are targeting or else you will probably get busy with your other work and never get around to it. They key is not to spend tons of time on these sites, but rather to make an impact with the time that you do have. If you’ve done an effective job with the first 3 steps you can easily have an impact with 30 minutes per day, or even less.

Setting aside some time for social media will help to ensure that you consistently use the sites, consistency is key, but it will also help to limit the amount of time that you spend so you don’t waste the whole day browsing through links that you’ve found through social media.

Step 5: Focus on Quality Over Quantity

When it comes to social media there is a huge difference in high-quality connections and low-quality connections. Try not to get caught up in comparing how many Twitter followers or Facebook fans you have in comparison to someone else. Having a high number is not required in order to be successful with social media. Having quality interaction with others and making an impact is possible even without having a lot of followers, fans, or friends.

Focus on using your time with social media to have genuine interaction with other users, and don’t take shortcuts or use tricks to build up numbers that really don’t matter anyway.

What’s Your Experience?

Do you use social media? If so, what role does it have in your business and what tips do you have for our readers?

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22 Responses

Comments are now closed on this post.

  • Toronto Web Developer, June 10, 2011

    Social Media is the future now. Everyone needs to get on board!

  • blueshark design, March 7, 2011

    Thanks for your suggestions, especially Step 3. We have found that Tweetdeck is saving hours in managing several clients multiple social media accounts.

    • Vandelay Website Design, March 7, 2011

      Tweetdeck is a great tool, one that I used in the past and really liked. I now use Hootsuite and I like that one a little better, but I think it’s mostly personal opinion because both are good.

  • Ankit Bathija, October 23, 2010

    Was wondering if I could cross-post this on my blog?

    Ankit Bathija

    • Vandelay Website Design, October 23, 2010

      No, posts cannot be republished. You can post an excerpt (one or two paragraphs) and link it back to this post if you like.

  • giorgia, October 15, 2010

    excellent! this is the best way to maximize your ROI! ;)

  • Kristy, October 12, 2010

    I love using social media. I have done a few of the tips you have offered here, but I need to get more organized with it by following the other tips. What I have been doing, though, has been very helpful to drive traffic to my site! Thanks for the list!

  • Sean Boone, October 8, 2010

    Oh Twitters. It’s kind of dying out a bit.

    I just signed up for http://score.ly today. It’s in ALPHA but its a great idea for brining all the social networks into one for some score.

  • Rob Cook, October 6, 2010

    all the steps are mention are very easy to right on the track for good optimization. thanks for making its so easy to understand.

  • Personal Web Page Design, October 4, 2010

    This is a great post. I’m working with a client right now that I’ll be making social networking pages for also. This will help me in the process of choosing the right ones.

  • Frank @ Printer Help, October 3, 2010

    Thanks so much for the tips. I really know nothing about Social Media because it seems a little daunting.

  • Thank you for this well written article. You made very valid points in your post and I’m sure a lot of Social Media marketers and users will take great value from it. Positive Networking is key, forming a positive relationship with others will pay off in the end. This goes for any form of Social Media. This means just getting to know your market and being professional at all times. Don’t rush the gun.

  • Nikunj, September 30, 2010

    Step 5 is really important, as people tend to forget about quality & they start following XX No of users, as they think getting more users will be more useful, but believe me i have made this mistake & found out the fact the hard way.

    So you should always keep in mind whom you are following rather how many people you are following.

  • Jonathan, September 30, 2010

    Very good article. I especially agree with the statement that it’s not about the amount of followers you have compared to someone else. It’s something we all do. What is important is that your followers are the people you want to socialize with. There’s no point having 1,000,000 left-handed Twitter followers if all you sell are right-handed can openers.

  • UK IT Recruitment Agency, September 30, 2010

    Social media sure consumes a lot of time especially if there are few accounts. At the beginning it was overwhelming for me. However now I have a set time to engage in social media as mentioned in step 4. I would highly encourage any business/individual to first set a time for social media. That way one will be able to manage time effectively. Thanks for the valuable post!

  • $hekh@r, September 30, 2010

    Obviously Quality over quantity is a one stop trick. I have seen some people using social to media not for his actual stats rather on computed quantitative stats.

    Regarding quality, I have created something new types of Icons for social media, go through, http://www.cssjunction.com/freebies/social-media-icon-set-eggs-like-icons-for-your-next-project

  • yes useful and full of good tricks; the sea of social networks is going to be an ocean.

  • Developers in DC, September 30, 2010

    Good research work done you but why are u not putting the video on this post. I can’t understand

  • Sjkato, September 30, 2010

    Thanks for the tips! I have not used much in the way of social media, at least with business. I am very green in that area, so I find this information very valuable, though somewhat obvious in a way.
    The sort of knowledge that, as you read it you smack your head and go “of course! It’s so obvious!” and then think yourself a fool for not realising it. That is the gift you have given to me today. Thanks :)

  • Priyesh, September 30, 2010

    Great Tips! Many people are still unaware of the benefits that social media can bring to a business or individual. It does not even have to be daunting because applications like tweet deck can help you stay organized and increase your online presence.

  • Sammy, September 29, 2010

    This is a very good site to get alot of information from. You make it look all so simple. I can see many holes in what I am doing and will have to fix them. I can not wait to check out all ot those links for more learning and socializing.