Everyone knows social media is important. A good social media plan can play a huge role in your success as a dog care professional. But with all the hype and attention, how do you know where to start? Check out this simple list of 7 steps to start thinking about, and optimizing, your dog walking operation's social media.

What are your goals?

It’s simple enough to start posting things to various social platforms. But it's much harder to develop a workable social media strategy that makes sense for your visitors, and doesn't overwhelm you in the process.

What are the primary goals you want to accomplish using social media? Do you want more people to follow you? Are you specifically targeting new introductions. Or is social media a place for you to provide service and communicate with existing clients? Settling on real goals and objectives will get you off to a great start with social media. It’s also one that many people tend to skip.

Content. Content. Content

Experts and novices alike all love to extol the value of creating ‘great content'. But what are they talking about, what is great content, and how are you supposed to be creating so much of it?

This varies so much, both by industry and circumstance, that there is no correct answer. But there's an easy mental check you can perform to let you know if something qualifies as 'great content' for your specific audience.

Choose three clients you want to know about your dog walking services. Now, to the best of your abilities, step inside each of their minds, and take a look at the post you're planning. Are you happy you found that post? If yes, post it! If not, ask yourself why and rethink.

Make it Shareable

The most shared and reposted content will be that which is genuine, valuable, and helpful to its readers. Concentrate on creating content that will be shared again by your followers in their own respective circles.

Conversations Not Billboards

At it’s best, social media is a vibrant conversation, with posts coming from you, your followers, and your clients. Most experts recommend an 80/20 split, with 80% content about your industry, recent trends, and reposts, and only 20% content about your specific dog walking services. Don’t treat social media like a billboard to post updates only about yourself. Survey your followers. Collect feedback. Post valuable things from elsewhere. And be willing to let your own voice speak through your social. After all, it's yours!

Video Killed the Copywriter

On a more focused note, how does video play into all of this? Most businesses acknowledge that they would like to use more video. But the upfront investment of time, energy, and money can be hard to justify. Well here’s a statistic to inspire you.

Social posts containing video receive almost 50% more views than their non-video peers, according to a recent HubSpot article. And as new platforms like Vine and Vimeo continue to grow, video will play a larger and larger role on social media.

Tear Down this Wall

Historically, there’s often been an unnecessary wall between social media and primary websites. Don’t let this happen to you. Make sure that visitors visiting your main website have an easy way to link out to your social channels. Forbes lists social links on their shortlist of social media musts. This is a no-brainer, and takes just a couple minutes with a social icons plugin like this.

Linking Back to Your Website

In the same way that linking from your website to your social is a no-brainer, linking from your social back to your website is equally worthwhile. Most social media platforms will let you add links to your profile, or elsewhere.

But today, you can go even further, and embed your social media content right in your dog walking operation’s website. There are tons of free social media widgets and plugins out there that will let you add Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or any other social feed to your site. There are even plugins out there that let you combine multiple social channels into a single stream.

How does social media play into your dog walking business and marketing strategy? We’d love to hear about tips, tools, and tricks you discovered, and see examples of what’s working for you. Let us know in the comments section below.