Yes, social media has its place not only in your internet marketing, but in your big picture marketing strategy (brand messaging) as well!
If you are a small business or a local non-profit, promoting your brand, your small business services, or a local event is definitely where social media can help amplify your efforts and turn up the volume.
Here are 8 key elements that are important to include in your small business social media strategy:
1. Make a commitment to using weekly resources to engage in social media.
As the business owner, you need to put systems in place so that every day you take a few moments out of regular business operations to spend some time interacting with your customers through social media. If you really don’t have time, you may choose to have an employee designated with the task of creating content and engaging with people on social media. If you have a marketing agency, they may offer social media services and can monitor and interact for you. However you choose to allocate your resources, make sure you have a strategy in place…which brings us to #2.
2. Create a plan that reflects your brand and stick with it.
Make sure you have a focus and a strategy for your social media marketing. It is not just about posting pictures or making comments. Think about your business goals and how social media can promote what you are already doing. Make sure the strategy you follow matches with who you are as small business. Social Media is important for amplifying what you are already doing. If you are doing things poorly or putting up a “fake” image, it will get magnified. If you are doing business well, it is only going to get better as more and more people are exposed to your brand.
3. Don’t try to use every social media channel.
Instead focus your time and resources on the social media channels that drive the best results for your business. Become familiar with the types of social media channels out there. You can’t do it all, and you shouldn't do it all! It is much better to focus your time and resources on the channels that fit your customer persona and your industry or your specialty.
For a summary of the top social media channels and what their focus is, watch this video:
4. Regularly generate content using blogs, Twitter, Facebook, or other social platforms.
One small business owner stated, “If you’re not blogging, you’re dying.” There is power in content generation online. Think about it, when it comes to your business, you have numerous brochures, pamphlets, maybe videos, and there is a gold mine of knowledge stuck in your head. So get it up on your website! Get it online for others to see your level of expertise in your industry, then promote it on the social media platforms that are appropriate for the type of content you have or persona you are trying to reach.
5. Use social media to drive participation in offline events.
For many businesses their day to day operations happen off line. Promote what you are doing offline, online. Here’s a current example: one of our local vendors is having an open house today and offering a free lunch. How did they get the word out? They used a Promoted Post and updated their status on Facebook highlighting their “free lunch” today. It will be great to find out how successful their lunch is. Think about how you can use social media to promote an offline event you have for your small business.
6. Set clear expectations for frequency and types of social media interactions.
An important piece of your strategy and plan needs to be frequency. If your business is blogging or posting inconsistently or in bursts that fizz out, you will lose your effectiveness. Think about it like this, if you meet someone and go to a few events together, then never call them again, odds are you won’t be top of mind when they get those great concert tickets. Social Media is about building relationships and this is done through a consistent frequency of interactions. If you post daily on social media, your target audience will come to expect it and that’s not a bad thing!
7. Provide clear calls-to-action and opportunities to generate leads and new customers using social media.
Any social media strategy needs to include interactions which link between and “talk” online to a paying customer. The key is to provide clear direction and opportunities for people engaged in social conversations to come to your website, attend an offline event, pick up the phone and ultimately make a purchase. The key is to have a balance of real conversations and personal interactions as well as “offers.”
8. Measure your social media efforts.
Have some methods for understanding how your social media activity has had an impact on business results. Make sure you have the tools in place to track how effective your methods and efforts are. It is not helpful to fly blind because you have no insight into how your efforts have performed in gaining leads and generating more customers for your small business. Once you start using the tools and have that view into how specific efforts perform, you can use this information and data to drive your marketing strategies even more.
If you keep these 8 key elements in mind as you plan out your small business marketing strategy you will start to see the benefits and why social media is important and should be incorporated into your overall marketing strategy.