In honor of National Entrepreneur Week, today’s Friday Five post is about social media’s capability to help entrepreneurs reach their goals. Social platforms can help build brand awareness, streamline customer service, amplify one’s message, boost sales and manage one’s reputation. Here are five social media tips to help entrepreneurs jump-start and maintain a successful social strategy.

1) Create a Presence on the Right Platform(s): There’s a plethora of social platforms to choose from. However, being on all of them is simply not a viable option. With limited resources, entrepreneurs should select only those platforms that make the most sense. Consider which are designed for the type of content you’ll produce. Here is a short list of social platforms and the type of content they’re designed to optimize:

  • YouTube: This is a great outlet sharing video content with your customers and fans. Popular video categories are how-tos, behind-the-scenes (showing your company culture), and “breaking news”.
  • Pinterest, Instagram: These platforms are a great way to highlight a more fun side of your business. For example, RingCentral uses Pinterest to share interesting articles and business success tips. We use Instagram to showcase our company culture.
  • Blogging platforms: Blogs are ideal for sharing company and product news. They’re also great for long-form content – market projections or industry trends, for example.
  • FacebookTwitter: These two are the “big kahunas” of the social space. Facebook and Twitter have more users than any other platform, so they can’t be ignored. We’ve found that catchy headlines, quotes and short messages perform best. They are also great news outlets for sharing the content your are creating for your blog.
  • LinkedIn: LinkedIn is the #1 social network for business professionals. So, joining groups is a perfect way to participate in industry-specific discussions and conversations with thought leaders. While following a company page on LinkedIn is a great way to stay up-to-date on latest news involving events, products and services, aw well as potential job opportunities. LinkedIn recently acquired SlideShare, which is quickly growing to be the world’s largest community for sharing content in the form of presentations, documents, and videos alike.

2) Create a Consistent Voice: Before you start tweeting, posting and blogging, it’s imperative to figure out your voice. Your social media voice should reflect your business, be appealing to your audience and remain consistent over time and across platforms. Here’s a short list of some of the more popular social voices used by entrepreneurs:

  • Humorous
  • Creative
  • Hip/artsy
  • Authoritative
  • Personable
  • Educational

3) Always be Authentic: In last week’s Friday Five, I wrote about the importance of authenticity. This is true, in part, because those who conduct themselves authentically online are able to build stronger, more relevant relationships with their communities. As an entrepreneur, you know your business inside and out. That means you’re in a position to relay messages with sincerity – and social media can really help.

4) Listen & Respond: Listening is one of the fundamentals of social media. It allows for deeper conversations and more meaningful engagement. Those who simply shout out brand messages, push products and host endless “giveaways” and “contests” often miss the boat. In order to find true social media success, you must listen and respond accordingly. Those who figure this out are able to build stronger relationships with their online communities and in turn increase affinity.

  • Set up Google Alerts
  • Monitor mentions on Twitter
  • Check your platforms daily
  • Know the competition

5) Don’t Give Up: To paraphrase Winston Churchill: never, never, never give up! Social media cannot be mastered in a matter of weeks or even months. You’ll have ups and downs, but no matter how frustrated you may become, keep on keeping on! Social media success is almost always gradual and your efforts will pay off – so long as you continue to participate.

What are some tips you can share with entrepreneurs hoping to leverage social media?