Small Business: 5 Tactics to Effective Social Media Strategy
While social media appears to be ideally made for budget conscious, small business marketing, the reality is that social media can be a resource hog.
This explains why social media strategy topped over half of small businesses’ list of marketing challenges according to Constant Contact’s Small Business Pulse Research from December 2012.
Small businesses increased social media activity across platforms
During 2012, small businesses stepped up their social media activity across a variety of social media platforms. With the exception of Facebook, where small businesses, like their larger counterparts, had followed the masses, these firms had limited participation on social media.
More than four out of five small businesses had staked out their turf on Facebook as of December 2012, up seven percentage points from May 2012. While Facebook can be effective for consumer-oriented businesses and not-for-profits seeking to engage a mass audience, it’s not ideal for every business.
Without time to examine the options available, many small businesses aren’t necessarily selecting the optimal social media platforms for their firm. While about 30% use LinkedIn, the top professional social platform, it’s mainly for their ability to reduce hiring costs, not marketing.
The omission of blogs is surprising and may be attributable to the fact that many companies consider it content marketing, not social media. Blogs should be at the center of your social media strategy since they provide information that answers customers questions and shows them how to use their products. Further, beyond creating the posts and distributing them, blogs don’t require constant engagement like other social media venues. As a bonus, they support search optimization!
Small businesses need to supply social media content on a regular basis
Small businesses may have staked out their turf on a variety of platforms but only a small percent makes use of these platforms on a regular basis despite the fact that social media feeds on continual diet of content sharing and interaction. One out of four small businesses posts on Facebook daily and one out of three posts at least weekly. Less than 20% of small businesses post either daily or weekly on Twitter. These social networks offer participants a fire hose of information that requires consistent, daily interaction to build brand awareness, prospect and customer relationships.
As with the other chart, there’s no mention of blogging. It needs two posts per week according to Hubspot to yield most of the lead generation effectiveness of posting every day. At a minimum, blogs should post weekly to keep their audience engaged.
5 Tactics to effective small business social media strategy
To ensure that your small business social media activities makes efficient use of your resources, here are five tactics to help build your strategy. (Here’s how to create a full social media plan.)
- Choose the most effective social media platforms for your business. As social media continues to mature and evolve, new social media alternatives present themselves. While small businesses should keep their social media efforts focused due to limited resources, it’s critical to ensure that this investment yields results. Actionable Social Media Tip: Think beyond the big three (Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter). Assess how other firms like yours are using these platforms as well as the frequency of posting required. For example, Tumblr is a must for offerings targeting 12 to 24 year olds and SlideShare is a must for B2B firms and solopreneurs.
- Engage on your core social media platforms on a regular schedule. You can’t just drop in for a visit whenever you happen to have time and hope that you’ll build and keep a social media following. It’s like when your Uncle Herbie who never talks to anyone happens to drop in for an unexpected visit. Actionable Social Media Tip: Plan out your social media engagement along with your promotions and content marketing. This way you can create all of these elements at the same time. This optimizes content creation and ensures that it’s tailored appropriately for each venue.
- Offer quality content. This means share useful information that you’ve created and/or curated. Start with posts you’ve written for your blog. Actionable Social Media Tip: Share more than just comments and tweets. Create high-value information such as YouTube videos and Pinterest-friendly images.
- Skip the buy, buy, buy. While social media networks can be effective for providing information prospects and customers need, you can’t yell at them or be promotional. Actionable Social Media Tip: Create information that answers your customers’ product-related questions, shows them how to use about your products, and gives them styling tips.
- Measure social media results back to your objectives. Without tracking social media related activity, you don’t know whether it’s contributed to building your business. Determine your social media measures during your planning phase to ensure that you can capture activity. Further, the more specific your goals are, the easier it is to measure. Actionable Social Media Tip: Ensure that you keep a record of the time (for all employees not just the owner!) and other resources used to support your social media efforts. This is one way to track how much time your staff is spending on social media.
Social media can be highly effective for small businesses and can even level the playing field. The challenge is in creating a schedule to ensure that it doesn’t take away from other firm activity nor does it get forgotten because it’s not the current fire drill.
What helpful tips have you learned to keep your small business on track for success?
Join me at Social Media Marketing World this coming Spring in sunny San Diego, California, where I'll be presenting a session on Blogging.
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