A lot of people ask me about things social media, blogging, internet presence. The world of social media can be confusing and overwhelming. It is also time consuming. It is difficult to find time to put things on Facebook or write a blog post, let alone spend time googling how to be effective or use a particular tool.

I am really no social media expert, but I have learned a lot since starting a business and many of the tools are free and easy to use if you have the time. I figured I would share some helpful tips for people trying to navigate the social media, so here goes.

1. Google Business:  It used to be Google Places, but now it is called Google Business. You can just Google “Google Business” and sign up. ( I just used the word Google six times if you include this one in parenthesis. As both a verb and a noun. You know you have made it when the name of your business becomes a verb). It just means you sign up for an account and register as a business. You will show up on the maps when someone searches for your business. It helps people find you and it helps with SEO (search engine optimization). You can make your Google business account pop up sooner in the search results but getting reviews and by asking business directories to include your business in their registry. Be careful that your information is always consistent and always updated though, because Google is smart and you won’t show up as much if you are out of date.

2. Instagram:  This is what the kids are doing these days. We live in culture of selfies and instant photos, filters, and “real time” updates. Instagram is great because it provides an easy fast visual and keeps people up to date and involved in what you are doing. It uses handles ( ex. @maidacreative) and hashtags ( ex. #fxbg) to pull and find information (helpful article on #hashtags here). So for example, if you post an awesome picture of your dog and then put hostages underneath like #dog #mydogisawesome, then your photo with pop up when people use those hashtags. #fxbg is the one for local Fredericksburg by the way. Instagram does have limitations. it is meant for your phone. They don’t have a web application, only a mobile one. Fortunately though most people have a smartphone and it’s an easy thing to download and start using.

3. Blogging: Blogging is the thing to do. It is a dialog between you and the world. It lets people in your head. It can be helpful to other people depending on your topic. It is great for SEO. I like it for those reasons, but also because sometimes I just like to write about the things that go through my head. My head is often full and it’s another creative outlet. Sometimes I run out of topics though, which is probably the hardest part of blogging: being consistent and coming up with content. My suggestion to anyone who wants to add a blog to their website is to write about things that are interesting to you, that will be helpful to other people, and that give people a better look at who you (and your business) are. I carry around a notebook and write things I think of when they occur to me (which is always random and often when I am trying to sleep). I use WordPress. There are lots of options out there, but I like WordPress because there are A LOT of possibilities in terms of options. WordPress is also free, which is great. You can install “themes” which are just a fancy name for a framework template. Some you can customize, some you can customize a lot. If you know how to code, you can basically build from scratch. If you have no coding experience at all, you can still create a blog or a website on WordPress. You can also purchase themes and customize many of them. You can start your WP adventure here.

4. Email Marketing: MailChimp. It’s awesome and it’s free. Very user friendly with drag and drop features. Email marketing or having a “newsletter” is a great way to keep people informed about what is going on, special events, sales. etc. It has an unsubscribe feature for the recipient and you are kept abreast of who signs up and who unsubscribes. It is also friends with WordPress so it is easy to connect the two.

There are so many more free resources out there. It is just a matter of searching and taking the time to learn and work with them. However, if you don’t have the time to manage it, and want someone to set it up for you or manage it, I am your girl. 🙂

Have questions about this stuff? Want help? Have another suggestion for a great free resource to market your business? please share them in comments! I am open to topics for suggestion and will blog about something that you fee would be helpful to you!