Social media offers tremendous marketing opportunities for small businesses, yet many small business owners have never bothered to develop a social media strategy. If you’re not already taking advantage of social media, this article will serve as Social Media Strategy 101 for you. If you’ve already started using social media but know you could do a lot more with it, you’ll probably find some pointers here to strengthen your social media strategy.
1. Formulate Your Social Media Strategy
The first and foremost tool is your own brain! Take some time to determine exactly what your goals are with social media. Is it to increase visibility, build your brand, attract more customers or some other goal? How will you know that you are succeeding? Directly pitching potential customers on social media sites is a turn-off, but savvy users know that social media can be best used in certain specific areas such as: strengthening customer relations, improving customers’ perception of your brand, enhanced communication with customers to learn more about what they want and like, and of course building relationships and loyalty.
2. Be Seen on Facebook
Did you know that Facebook is the most visited website in the world? If you don’t already have a Facebook page for your business, you’re missing out. As Facebook puts it, “The world has gone social. Be part of the conversation.” Creating a Facebook page for your local business, company, organization, or institution is free and doesn’t take long to do. Just press Get Started and you’re on your way.
3. Tweet on Twitter
Twitter is another social media giant. At no charge, it allows you to send out messages of up to 140 characters to those who “follow” your business. You can search out people and companies to follow, often when you follow people they will follow you back. You can even put a Twitter widget on your web site to start getting your customers and prospective customers following you. If your customers like your Twitter posts, also known as “tweets,” they might “retweet” them, which is the equivalent of passing along a piece of information to a friend. Only in the case of Twitter, the information goes out to all of that person’s followers.
4. Connect with Colleagues on LinkedIn
Unlike Facebook and Twitter, LinkedIn is specifically designed to promote business networking. It’s a great way to connect with potential customers and also to network with others within your industry to share information. You can even watch what your competitors are doing there. The first step in using LinkedIn is to create a professional profile. It’s important to make sure you do a good job creating your profile, after all this is your professional presence. If you do it right you will stand out when people visit your profile.
5. Broadcast Your Business on YouTube
As you probably know, YouTube is a showcase for videos, usually homemade, by people all over the world. But it’s also great way to attract new customers. For example, if you have a garden supply business, you can create videos on gardening techniques and, if they’re good, potential customers will watch them and might end up becoming customers. So begin today to start creating informative and/or entertaining short videos (no more than 3 minutes) relating to your business that can be uploaded to YouTube.
Metrics are an essential piece of your social media strategy because you need to know what kind of results you’re getting i.e. how many people are visiting your social profiles, how influential your social media pages are compared to your competitors, how many of your tweets are retweeted, or facebook posts have been shared. There are a number of online sites such as RowFeeder that can provide you with this information at no charge in the form of an Excel report, or a monthly charge for more extensive use.
7. Keep Your Ear to the Digital Ground
Finally, you’ll need to listen in and determine what is being said on social networks about your brand, business, service and even your industry and competitors. One tool you can use for this is SocialMention, it offers something similar to a Google search but for social media sites.
Growing Your Social Media Presence
If you implement these seven suggestions you will be ahead of millions of small businesses owners that approach social media in a haphazard manner, if at all. What’s more, what we’ve recommended here will form a solid foundation to extend your social media strategy through the use of additional tools and services such as those provided by SocialBakers and PostRank Analytics, and other cutting-edge companies.
We’d love to hear how your social media strategy has been working for you, and what your favorite tools and techniques are!