Know you need a solid social media marketing effort for your small business, but not sure how to get started? Taking the time to build a strong foundation will save you from ending up like little pigs 1 & 2 in the classic 3 Little Pigs fairy tale, rebuilding each time the fickle “wolves” of social media trends decide to “blow the house down” by changing all the rules. Here are 9 tips for building a social media presence that will provide you with an unshakeable marketing platform that will last for years to come.
- Know your objectives. What exactly do you want to accomplish with your social media platform? A clear objective will help you choose the right channels and craft just the right plan. Some common social media objectives are:
- Brand building to increase name recognition and associate it with your product.
- Attracting new customers by driving people to social sites or website.
- Educating about a product, service or industry.
- Increasing sales by demonstrating products or services and engaging with customers. Here are 5 tips from myecomclub.com for boosting sales with social media.
- Leveraging customer loyalty by giving them a place to talk about their experiences and encourage others to purchase from you.
- Know your audience. Revisit your original market research to drill down to your target market’s needs and behavior. Make an appointment with a local business advisor (OCEP, Small Business Development Center, SCORE) if you need assistance with finding your audience. Some questions to ask:
- Understand the target market’s point of view and activities. What do they care about, what do they do? What problem can your product or service solve for them?
- Consider influencers, buyers and end users. Who is making recommendations and sharing content with your current or potential customers?
- Know where your audience engages on social media. Compare social site demographics with target market demographics to determine the best channels to reach your target market.
- Consider your audience’s social media behavior. Are they active, passive, motivated by deals, rewards, promotions?
- Research the current social media landscape. There are extensive statistics published each year about users, behavior, activities, trends and expectations. This information can guide channel and topic choices. Here are just a few reputable places to look for social media reports:
- Inventory your marketing assets. Take an inventory of all of your personal and business connections and expertise, as well as that of employees and customers that could possibly be used to leverage and expand social media influence. Review materials you are already creating (reports, presentations, photos, video, articles, displays, etc.) for possible repurposing on social media.
- Make a list of hot topics and keywords that compliment your business that could be co-opted for your own social media message. Research their popularity and competition on keyword sites:
- Google’s Keyword Planner
- Bing’s Keyword Research Tool
- WordStream Free Keyword Tool
- Know your company capacity. Don’t overreach your internal ability to execute a social media strategy. Take the time to conduct a fair assessment of skills, time and motivation to assist you in creating a plan that will succeed.
- Have a plan. Match your research about customers, channels, assets, topics and capacity with your objectives, and create a social media plan tailored to your company’s needs and goals. Make the plan specific, including responsibilities, procedures and a timeline of recurring task execution. There are several free templates available online to help organize the planning for social media, just search “free content plan templates.”
- Use shortcuts. There are a wide variety of useful online tools, many of them free, that can save you time and energy during the execution of a social media marketing effort. Research and learn the shortcuts that suit you best. Here are just a few areas where shortcut tools are invaluable:
- Multi-channel schedulers like Hootsuite.com or on specific channels allow you to schedule content in advance.
- Content curation sites like Feedly and Reddit can help you find industry-specific content your audience may find useful.
- Smartphone apps and browser buttons let you save or post content on the go rather than searching for it later.
- Measure success regularly. Learning to use analytics and gather information from your customers allows you to adjust your social media channels and content based on performance. All the major social media channels have on-site analytics that can be reviewed periodically to assess what needs to be adjusted in your strategy.
Living with a poorly-built social media marketing effort can take a toll on your company’s visibility, reputation and sustainability over the long haul. Taking the time to establish a strong foundation not only pays off in efficiency and the development of a strong brand message, but contributes to customer loyalty and increased sales. So keep the social media wolves away from your door. Build a good house the first time around!
Contact us today about a free 30 minute assessment of your social media foundation and what you can do to make it stronger! firstname.lastname@example.org 540.466.0059