With technology and internet marketing trends changing so fast these days, it can be hard to keep up. Social media is an excellent example. Which platforms should you use? How often should you publish updates? What kinds of content should you publish?
Don’t worry – getting started with social media for small businesses doesn’t have to be hard.
It will take some research and experimentation to find what works best for your business and audience, but following are the basic steps every business follows to start using social media.
Determine the Best Channels to Use.
This first step can be elusive, and is probably the biggest reason many small business owners and entrepreneurs are confused about using social media effectively. But if you do it right, small businesses can get more return from social media than bigger companies, according this article from Social Media Examiner.
The best social channels to use are the ones where your target audience already hangs out online. Being active on the wrong platform is wasted time and effort, since the people who might become customers won’t see your activity.
So how do you determine which social media are the best for you?
Some general guidelines can help, but to get the most benefit from your social media activity, you’ll need to research. Poll your existing customers to find out what social channels they use most often.
If you’re a B2C company, selling products directly to consumers, start with Facebook.
If you’re a B2B company, selling products or services to other businesses, start with LinkedIn.
Once you’ve mastered the first social channel, repeat this process to discover the next best channel for your business. The other big social platforms to consider are Twitter and Google+.
Research the Best Times and Types of Content to Publish.
What to share and when to share will vary depending on your audience and social channel. There’s not a one-size-fits-all approach (at least not one that works).
Of course, you’ll periodically share links to your blog, products, and other social profiles, but only posting links to your own stuff comes off egotistical and bores your connections. Varying the types of updates you share and encouraging social interaction builds up your profile and makes your company worth following.
In addition to sharing other people’s great content and engaging with followers, use this article of 50 update ideas to inspire your posts.
Create an Editorial Calendar.
Once you know what to publish and when on the right platform, it’s time to create a plan to put your research into action.
An editorial calendar helps you space out your social updates, so you don’t flood your account with activity or abandon it. Your social media calendar can also help you make sure you use a variety of posts (such as links, tips, or photos) and engagement methods (including questions and contests).
Automate or outsource social media management.
One of the best things about using social media for small businesses is how quickly and easily it can be ramped up through automation, outsourcing, or a combination of the two.
Automation means scheduling your social media updates in advance, so you sit down one day a month and plan everything out. Then all you have to do is find a few minutes here and there to be social – respond to questions, share or retweet someone else’s post, comment on an industry discussion, etc.
Outsourcing or delegating social media management frees up your time even more, and makes it easy to scale your efforts. By having an employee periodically check on your company’s social profiles and helping you plan the editorial calendar, or by hiring an outside consultant to manage the whole thing for you, you can spend your time on other important marketing tasks.
Measure ROI and tweak accordingly.
Social media for small businesses is mainly about building brand awareness and encouraging engagement with leads and customers, but it should have a direct impact on your bottom line, too.
To make sure your social media plan is actually worth the time it takes to manage it, you must calculate the return on investment.
When measuring the ROI of your social media activity, consider how it contributes to:
- greater brand awareness
- better online reputation
- improved customer service/experience
- follower-to-lead ratio
- follower-to-customer ratio
Once you know how things stand, you can make adjustments to improve them. Rinse and repeat as necessary to make your social media plan a smart part of your marketing mix.
How do you use social media for small business? What important tips have helped you? Please share in the comments!