You’ve probably heard the term “FOMO” by now. Fear of missing out is the sensation that everyone else is doing something you should be doing. And it’s a feeling that is often triggered by seeing someone’s social media post.

To a lot of business owners – especially small business owners who wear many hats – social media marketing itself feels this way. Should I use every social platform that’s out there? How do I even get started? Am I missing out on something fundamentally important for my business?

I’ve heard these questions time and again while traveling the country with the Small Business Revolution, a national movement that shines a spotlight on the importance of small businesses. People get overwhelmed thinking about social media marketing. It locks them up. It keeps them from doing anything.

This is a shame, as a sturdy social media presence is important for search and many other reasons. The key is to be strategic. Build your presence deliberately (and, yes, slowly). Analyze your efforts. Adjust as you go. Keep your customer front of mind. You don’t need to do everything. You just need to do what makes sense for your business. Here are six steps to help you determine what that means for your unique situation.

Find your customers.

You’re likely familiar with major social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube. Perhaps you use them yourself. That’s good.

Now ask yourself which platforms your customers use. Not sure? Ask them. Although it may be tempting to use every platform out there, you don’t need to. You just need to be able to meet your customers. Also, check out what your competitors are doing. Where can you find them online? Evaluate their efforts. Can you communicate with the same audience differently? Better? Go for it.

If you’re starting from scratch, figure out one key platform that fits the demographic of your customer base. This serves as your starting point.

Start small.

Social media marketing is beneficial in many ways – for generating brand awareness, driving sales, engaging with consumers and more. It can be tempting to try to achieve everything at once. But if you’re a newcomer, start small.

What is most important to you right now? Write it down. Then look at what you wrote and proceed confidently, knowing that this is your top priority and you should focus on this specific goal. Of course, you can branch out from there, depending on the results. It’s the results that will determine where you go next.

Hone your message.

You know who is your wisest social media consultant? Your mother. It might sound like a joke, especially if terms like “Snapchat” would elicit little more than a befuddled look from your mom. But I’m serious.

Remember the lessons she gave you when you were a child? “Don’t just talk about yourself – be sure to listen.” “Be kind and caring.” Those are essential social media attributes. The biggest mistake I see companies of all sizes make on social media is talking about themselves too much. Don’t do that. I cannot stress this enough.

Your job is to solve problems for your customers. Reflect this in your social media messaging. My approach with the Small Business Revolution is to share the stories of remarkable business owners. They’re inspiring. They talk about real-life challenges, and we show the way they adapt and move forward. We can all learn from these insights.

Prepare to talk about your customers more than yourself. If it helps to have a ratio in mind, go with 80-20. Make 80% of your communications about your customers (and the things that make their lives easier) and 20% about yourself. As you go along, you might even take that up to 90-10. It’s about developing trust over the long term.

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