For the majority of small or start up businesses, social media can drain valuable time. Small businesses often find time is their most valuable asset. Being flexible and being able to adapt quickly are essential for small businesses and entrepreneurs alike.
However when it comes to social media, planning is essential. A plan enables businesses to build a following and create interaction, whilst contributing towards sales and profits.
Social media needn’t be a time consuming exercise. With this eight step guide your small business will be able to utilise social media and gain all the benefits without disruption to your business.
1. Set clear social media goals
Essentially, the aims for your social media must be measurable in order to show their direct contribution to both your sales and profits.
Needless to say these objects should be similar to those of your business. Key areas:
- Build your brand. Develop an executive platform for the company’s owner
- Gain new prospects. Converting social media interaction into website traffic and sales
- Support sales. Being friendly and approachable. Basically answering any queries your following may have, whilst also providing insightful how-to information
- Repeat custom. Subtly encouraging and goading your existing customers to purchase more of your products or services
- Encourage fan based feedback. A customer focussed social media campaign is essential in order to be successful.
2. Identify your target audience
Establish who you wish to engage and reach with your social media campaign. When doing this, consider influencers, buyers and end-users:
- Develop a marketing persona. This is useful as it will help you to identify the requirements of your audience, what problems exist and the expected reaction of you audience to your campaign
- Develop a social media persona. It is worth doing research to see how your audience interacts on social media. This can be done through looking at the pages of your direct competition.
3. Gauge your competitor’s social media presence
Take the time to examine your competitor’s social media activity, in terms of their activity and which platforms they use. This should include:
- Direct competition: your rivals, who sell your product or service in your market
- Alternative products: products which prospective customers view that fulfil a similar function to your product
- Market leaders: The dominate industry players, e.g. Amazon, eBay, Amazon, Apple.
4. Implement your social media presence
Based on the previous research conducted, work out which platforms to utilise. This can be deduced from your audience’s preferences and your competitor’s spheres of activity.
Key platforms include:
- Facebook – Provides wide audience for your product or service
- Twitter – Provides an excellent forum for direct interaction with your audience
- Blog – This should be integrated with your website and also linked into appropriate posts on your social media platforms
- YouTube – Provides a forum where you can show customers how to use your product YouTube is also the second biggest search engine for users seeking information
- Google+ – An increasingly popular multi-functional platform
- Pinterest – Provides a format where small businesses can present both their businesses and products visually
- LinkedIn – A cost effective way for small business to acquire employees.
5. Brand integration
It is essential for cross platform consistency to incorporate your small businesses brand into all your social media activity. Providing an integrated brand presence dramatically increases brand recognition.
6. Plan your social commerce activity
In order to deliver time efficient social media engagement, establish how much time you can dedicate to social media on a regular basis. Develop your strategy accordingly.
7. Create content to support your social media presence
Content based marketing is an excellent way to boost your engagement on social media.
Things to keep in mind include:
- Establish the frequency for content distribution
- Determine what information you will require
- Work out the amount of content you can produce internally
- Make use of guest bloggers to submit extra content.
8. Integrate your social commerce with your other marketing strategies
Combine all aspects of marketing. This is an excellent way to maximise the impact of your marketing mix.
- Merge your all social media sites into your existing marketing
- Distribute all your content through your social media pages and channels. However bear in mind the golden rule of social commerce: 80% of your social media information should be about others, whilst only 20% should be about your business.