Social Media Marketing Tips for Small Business

Small business can struggle to strategically use social media marketing to get their message out. In fact at times social media can feel a bit overwhelming. The top 10 social network sites, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+, Tumblr, Instagram, VK, Flickr, Vine and a host of other niche networks generate huge audience participation for a business to market themselves to.  But where does one start, which social network suits best and what are the best methods to market a small business using social media?

Here is a list of tips to help any small business to better use social media to get their message in front of their target audience.

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Create a social media marketing plan. Plan out what you want to achieve, how you are going to achieve it and what resources you need prior to kick starting any social campaign. Too many businesses just dive in and start plastering links on LinkedIn, posting images on a Facebook page or tweeting messages without first considering how social media activity can help drive their business. The reality is that to do social media in a meaningful matter requires committing resources (content creation, social selling, and social conversations) and people (content seeding, managing social profiles, community engagement) to the task. Effective social presence means constantly updating, sharing and posting to keep everything fresh to attract potential customers. Old, outdated and “infrequent” activity will just not cut it. The plan should map out a schedule that works best for the business based on resources or budgets. Social media should be viewed as a strategy investment with goals and then needs to be prioritised with clear ROI on the planned activity.

Create a buyer persona to define your target audience. Not all social media platforms work for every business, B2B is different from B2C, are you looking to sell online generate traffic or do lead generation? If you’re trying to reach B2B buyers then LinkedIn maybe your best bet or if teenagers are your target audience then Instagram could be the way to go. If the marketing or creative community is on your radar then Google+ communities is worth targeting. Also consider when this audience is most active and then plan out the posting schedule accordingly to maximise your results.

If your potential customers are teenagers then schedule social shares during the evening when they check their profiles. A good tip is start with one network and get skilled at doing it well. Then add in other networks over time.

The 3 C’s of a social media plan. Content, content and content. Content (your own and 3rd party shares) is what powers social media. Always have a fresh supply of content and make it current to the topics, season, conversations or news. A few blog posts of 1000 words plus is a good starting point. A thousand words might seem long but as a small business you need to become a subject matter expert for your industry. Share stories, insights, tips, lessons and learning’s in a friendly tone.

Use content/images/videos/guides/insights from complimentary 3rd party sources to build up your content library. In fact readers value quality content regardless of the source and recognise the person posting it as a valued contributor to the community.

Social media is multimedia. While article content is the main tool for social promotion, video is fast becoming the engagement channel among certain demographics. Video is getting easy to shoot and share. Customer interview videos with detailed discussion can be powerful. Also use imagery, pictures and infographics that showcase your company’s products.

Social media platforms are for engagement. As with social selling, all your activity should strive to drive engagement not pushing out blatant sales promotions . Follow the steps – Awareness, Consideration, Nurture and Develop. Selling comes later once you have developed a relationship. Social media is the channel for potential customers and buyers to become aware of you, to get to know you, to understand what value your can bring and to learn what your company stands for so be authentic and share content that brings value to the reader.

Become a thought influencer and source of quality information, this will attract customers to notice you and in time they become receptive to buying from you. So share quality content that reflects your own personal brand and watch as people joins you in your journey.

Stay engaged on conversations and comments. Don’t just share and disappear, stay on top of discussions and your postings. If a customer leaves a comment about something you posted (positive or negative) then don’t over react, just reply back. Buyers need to know you are listening, responsive and can engage with discussions. Listening and replying to social media conversations requires time so ensure you have planned for this activity.

The social media road should lead to your website. As you generate more awareness and consideration amongst buyers then over time they will end up visiting your website to learn more about you. So ensure you have your website in ship shape order including newsletter sign-ups, landing pages and contact us points before starting social media activities

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Your activity and content should reflect your brand. It is important to plan out so that all your social media channels, blogs, content and website reflect your brand. People want to engage with real and genuine businesses. Your content should mirror your own voice and match the topics or relevancy of your content to your business. For example, if a business is selling a HR solution, then the content needs to be factual in nature with a business tone.

If a business is selling a lifestyle product, then energetic or inspirational tones might work better. Where possible use real customer stories and always uses real testimonials on web pages.

Share to receive. Social media is not about you, it is about your customers or prospects. Study and research the language your target audience uses to talk about your industry. What topics interest them and what social conversations they engage with? Then engage them with content and insights that match these terms. The use of hashtags is a great way to join in on conversations on social media. Also optimise your content, blog and website with the keyword terms that will help you get found in web search results.

Another tip is as people do allot of question type searches (“how do polish my car?”), so a business selling car care related products will need to use this type of language in the content they publish on their blog.

Mobile is a must. Now most Facebook posts and tweets on Twitter are being done on mobile devices. Social platforms will gradually deliver a mobile first experience so your site and blog should be mobile optimised to provide a great browsing and shopping experience.

There you have it, a few social media marketing tips that might help you get the word out about your business and get the attention of the buyers you want to sell to.

Social Media Marketing Plan

A social media marketing plan should not pose any major challenges to a small business. As in any growing business with a great product or service, the marketing team or person is most likely to be working on different tasks at different times and these tasks can change rapidly depending on the business needs. However, even with taking this into consideration, social media is now so vital to business success there are some tasks that need to be planned as part of the daily marketing routine.

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Set the social media goals and objectives.

Every article, news release, research or whitepaper are assets in a social media strategy to serve the goals that have been set. As with any business strategy you must know what you are working toward. Is it drive brand awareness, customer acquisition, generate new sales drive traffic, build up your network, reduce the cost per lead. Whatever of any or all of these you need goals and associated objectives clearly defined.

Work on the content strategy

When it comes to marketing the product or service, social media marketing success depends on the content strategy a business decides upon. Prior to writing, commissioning or publishing any content, a business needs to understand, what audience(s) are going to be  targeted?, What type of voice (expert, commentator, industry) will you use to communicate? Who are you trying to influence? What specifically do you want to achieve (leads, likes, traffic, views or authority)?  Allot of strategy answers are to be found in questioning the content strategy so everyone involved in the marketing and sales efforts need to know the why, what and who, understand it and is always in their minds. Content marketing strategy can then be tweaked and optimised as necessary.

Make sure there is new quality content to post

Fresh, quality, informative and relevant content is at the core of every social media campaign to reach target audiences and ensure engagement. To be seen as an influencer and sector expert it is vital to share new content consistently and regularly. New content when well written (not self- promotional or product articles) and engaging can propel a business forward. This is why the person in charge of the social media plan needs to make sure there is always some new content ready to be shared. There is no hiding the fact that writing content does take time and continuous effort so it needs to be planned.

Set up a content sharing schedule

The social media plan needs to have a schedule when content will be shared so all social marketing activities tie back into other marketing events or business plans. Also a schedule will take account for any external events, key word targeting, launches, promotions or seasonal trends that impacts your industry. This is why the content sharing calendar is so important for deciding what social media activities are in the pipeline. While not all content can be created and planned for weeks in advance of sharing, the core, and keyword targeted content pieces that demand more care and effort should be.

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Sharing sector Expertise

Selling is not sharing. Share your sector expertise on a regular basis in terms of marketing, insights, research, social stories and commentary to establish your business, product or service as an influencer. For every 1 self-promotional content pieces shared, share 4 quality “industry relevant” articles, also share insightful articles from other authors, comment and add value (not plugging your own business) on forums and groups.

Generate new content ideas

As stated above the value a great, insightful and quality piece of content can bring to a social media campaign cannot be overstated. This is why a business needs to spend the time brainstorming content and article ideas. Every business should always allocate time for it on a weekly basis. The reality is that without interesting ideas on content your goals and results will suffer in the long run. Content needs to be kept fresh, up-to-date and interesting in order to continue engaging an audience. An easy way of generating content ideas is to track your competitors and other influential blogs to see what content is working for them.

Following news for current and relevant content

As with most companies, some of your content marketing will be focused on industry news and events. This is why keeping informed of relevant news and events means you will be able to react quickly and creatively to opportunities which can boost your on-line exposure. Many social media managers monitor several different keywords, hashtags, social group and Twitter in order to keep up the date and in the know on trending topics. When the opportunity presents itself, it is vital to be ready to respond.

Include images, video and design

Social media is also a visual channel where images, video and good design can give an added edge in the awareness stakes. Using nice imagery or videos and a visually stimulating way of presenting content is far more likely to reach and engage a large audience. As the volume of content rises across social channel, great content should be complimented with visual impact. A business should working with a designer in order to produce visual elements like photos, infographics and video.

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Run social advertising

To add to organic reach on social networks, depending on your social media goals and business then social advertising on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn may be a consideration. Running a paid social campaign might help get the content out to a wider audience and more relevant readers.

Communicate with all stakeholders

Whether you are a social media manager working in an agency or working directly for a company, you will need to work with all the stakeholders (management, sales, product, marketing and service) in order to agree on the content to be shared. This is why social media marketers should be spending time with the all the stakeholders to plan for the future as part of the marketing daily tasks. Meeting all concerned can help gain more insights into deciding what type content to create, what upcoming events are there in the pipeline, launches or news that may be of interest and any other ideas to use content to engage the target audiences.

Reporting

Finally but as important is the reporting on social media actions, activities and results. Whether you work for a company or an agency, it is vital to report on the social networks achievements and the upcoming plans in place. This is done by setting up and agreeing on regular reports that monitor the KPI’s or metrics you have agreed on with the stakeholders.

For more social media marketing tips, read the marketing category on The Bitter Business.

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