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Social Media Basics for Small Business

Social Media has had an influential turn on the world of advertising and marketing. For even the smallest businesses it’s great way to get your name and brand out there.  Here are the basics on the who, what, and where of Social Media.

I know that there are a million articles out there on what to do in social media, how to do it, whole books on social media sites and so on.  Well this is the abridged version!  This is my take from years of doing it for a small business, not as a social media expert, but as an operations manager on the front lines.

The following best practices relate to all social media sites. 

  • Interaction in social media should always be a conversation: NOT a monologue.
  • It is about engaging with others, in return you build a reputation for yourself and the business.
  • In order to be effective it is imperative to post three (3) times per week at a minimum. The exception to this is Twitter which will need to be maintained daily.
  • Always stay positive and professional!


Over one billion people like and comment an average of 3.2 billion times every day. When you have a strong presence on Facebook, your business is part of these conversations and has access to the most powerful kind of word-of-mouth marketing.  We recommend posting about once per day, but not less than 3 times per week to keep people returning to your Page. However, each Page has a unique audience that may respond better to more or fewer updates. Experiment with different posting schedules and see what works best by checking engagement metrics in your Page’s Insights.

If you notice that engagement with your Page has decreased, try varying your posts and post frequency. Emulate posts that have been successful in the past, and experiment with new types of posts.

  • “Fill in the blank” posts inspire engagement and encourage people to be creative and interactive. For example, you can post a fill-in-the-blank question such as My New Year’s resolution is _____. People who like your Page can then share their own New Year’s resolutions as a comment on the post.
  • Post a picture and ask people to come up with the best caption.
  • Asking questions encourages people to respond and engage with your Page.
  • Post exclusive content or news to get people talking about your Page and sharing content with friends.
  • Posting special offers (like discount codes or deals) just for the people who like your Page can increase loyalty and drive sales.


Twitter is a real-time information network used by millions of individuals, organizations and businesses to share information, commentary, descriptions of events, and highlight online and social media content. Launched in 2006, Twitter enables users to send and read messages made up of 140 characters or less, called tweets. Twitter has an estimated 500 million users generating an average 58 million tweets per day.

The following are common terms related to Twitter activities:

  • Direct Message or DM: A private Twitter message sent via Twitter between people who follow each other.
  • Follow: A way to subscribe to receive an individual’s or an organization’s Twitter updates. A user can “follow” another individual or organization by clicking the “Follow”button on the person’s or organization’s page.
  • Follower: A Twitter user who subscribes to follow another user.
  • “#” or Hashtags: A way to categorize tweets around a particular topic.
  • Mentions/@ Reply: A Twitter update that contains @username anywhere in the body of the Tweet.
  • ReTweet or RT: Sharing another user’s tweets with followers, usually by using the phrase “RT @username” or “ReTweet @username.”
  • Tweet: An individual Twitter post.

For the purposes of Twitter, I recommend keeping each Tweet to 120 characters.  The Twitter feed needs to be maintained on a daily basis.  Subject matter should be kept light hearted, and does not need to be about your industry.  A good sense of humor works well on this platform.


LinkedIn is the largest network of professionals used in the United States.  It can be used by individuals and companies alike.  If you do not already have an individual LinkedIn page, you will need to create one.  It is recommended that you find several groups to join, that are both professionally suited to your industry, or they interest you intellectually.

Google +

Google + is s social networking site that integrates both business and personal networking into one platform. Sharing of information, pictures, videos and so forth integrates easily across all platforms.  In addition to a personal and professional networking site, this is where Google Places and Google Local both reside.  Adding to your Google places listing through Google + on a regular basis will get picked up by Google and thus increase your ranking both in search engines as well as map searches.

Copyright 101

Guidelines for posting potentially copyrighted material on your social media accounts

First, determine who owns the material you want to post. Typical examples of copyright “owners” include:

  • Author of a written work
  • Photographer who took the picture
  • Composer of a song or melody
  • Videographer of a video
  • Journal/publisher of a published work
  • Creator of artwork
  • Programmer of software
  • Employer of any of these people if the work was done in connection with their employment 

How do you get permission to post copyrighted material?

Could posting of the material be considered a “fair use” under the Copyright Act?

Use is likely fair if:

  • Character of the use is nonprofit, educational, or personal
  • Nature of the material used is factual published material
  • Only a small amount of the material will be posted
  • Impact on the market for the material is very small

Use is likely not fair if:

  • Character of the use is commercial (promoting a product or service, charging to access the copyrighted material, advertisements)
  • Nature of the material used is imaginative and/or unpublished
  • The majority of the material will be posted (for example, an entire book or chapter instead of a quoted sentence)
  • Use detrimentally impacts the market for the original
  • Use was “fair” at one time, but has been repeatedly reused or more widely distributed, or the copyright owner has requested that the use be limited or discontinued. For example, use of a portion of a journal article or a photo may have been Fair Use one time, but used annually for the same event or purpose, loses its Fair Use character.

What are the penalties for infringing someone’s copyright?

  • Typically, a copyright holder’s first response to an act of infringement is to send you a “cease and desist” letter demanding that you stop infringement. The copyright holder can go to court to get an injunction or a court order requiring you to remove the infringing material from your account, Web page, or profile. Additionally, a copyright holder can file a claim for actual damages suffered by the copyright holder as a result of your infringement.
  • If the copyright has been registered with the U.S. Copyright Office, the copyright holder can file a claim for “statutory damages” without proving that the copyright holder was actually harmed by the infringement. An award of statutory damages can be as little as $750 or as much as $30,000. If the copyright holder can prove that you knew the work was protected under the law, an award of damages can be as much as $150,000.

What are the implications of posting copyrighted material on Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube?

  • When you post copyrighted materials on these social media websites, such as Facebook, they automatically obtain a license to use those materials, commonly known as an Intellectual Property, or “IP” license. They can use this IP license to share the materials all over the world without your further permission and without paying you any royalties. Some websites also reserve the right to change, commercialize and publicly perform or display the materials. This IP license ends when you delete the materials or terminate your account unless the materials have been shared with others and they have not deleted it. This could mean that the social media website effectively owns a license to use the materials you posted, for whatever purpose it desires, forever.


  • Hootsuite is a great tool to manage your social media, and has a great deal of information for further reading
  • Hub spot has some great material for reading as well: http://blog.hubspot.com/
  • Following Companies on Linkedin can be a valuable resource in order to stay apprised to new revelations in Social Media