Many startup and small business leaders get intimidated in a competitive market place. They create a marketing strategy that they feel will ROCK the WORLD then they find that another ten, twenty or even one hundred businesses had the same idea, leaving theirs much less compelling and unique. And many of those other businesses have large marketing budgets, and you’re making due with what’s least expensive. To compete in a big business world, small businesses must step up their game and give the “world” every trick in the book!
Why Social Media for Small Businesses?
As a startup or small business owner, you know there’s a lot to accomplish with limited resources. Traditional marketing can be a drain on your funds. Social media marketing, on the other hand, is pretty low-cost and gives you a direct line to current and prospective customers. That’s not to say that it’s easy – without traditional marketing, your social media strategies will need to be STELLAR. You must dedicate the time and energy it takes to be at the height of your social media game and you’ll need to be unique in your posting so you stand out amongst the numerous competitors.
Social media is all about connecting with your audience on an authentic level. To do that, you have to intimately understand your current and potential customers. Always remember, it’s not about YOU or what you think or want. It’s all about them.
- Start by defining your audience. Distinguish individual character profiles by age, gender, interests, profession, etc. Don’t just say it out loud. Write down the details and find images that represent your target audience, then REALLY consider how they will respond to your messaging.
- Next, crystallize your message. Based on your defined target audience, what are the key problems or concerns you can address or solve? What does your audience want to learn about? What will they be entertained by? Expand on and define those for each character and write it under each profile.
- Below that, write down three key marketing messages you want to communicate to that audience.
- Now that you’ve defined your audience and message, take the time to find out which social networks they prefer. All social media channels are not created equal. Each one has a different primary audience, cadence and focus. It’s important to understand the differences so you expend your efforts on the right channels.
If you treat each social media platform as a stand-alone effort, your success will be limited. Your networks should work together to help you achieve your goals.
Your website is your brand’s home base. Coordinate your social media efforts to push people to your website where they can buy your product or service. Utilize the social media to drive traffic to your website and vice-versa. Use your blog to establish your brand’s voice and share information. It’s also a valuable opportunity to engage with your site visitors and lead them through your sales funnel.
You can optimize your website and blog for social media by adding a few easy elements to your design:
- If you want visitors to follow your various social profiles, make sure you display social icons prominently in your header or sidebar. They should link directly to your profiles so your readers can follow you immediately.
- Include a call to action (CTA) at the end of your blog posts asking readers to like you on Facebook or follow you on Twitter (or whichever platforms you’ve determined are best for your audience).
- Integrate live social media feeds (e.g., Facebook and Twitter)into your website so visitors can see your recent activity. When your audience can see what you’re sharing, they may be more likely to follow you.
- Incorporate sharing buttons on your pages and posts to ensure that your content is share-friendly. When people come across valuable content, they want to share it with their friends and followers. If you don’t have sharing buttons, your visitors will likely click away and you’ve lost that opportunity to reach a wider related audience.
Consistency is the Key
Social media takes time and energy, which are precious resources. I always tell my clients that if they don’t have the time to consistently keep up with their social media marketing, they should not attempt to use it. Poorly maintained social media accounts are detrimental to your businesses image. If you don’t want to hire someone to handle your social media, be sure that you or someone else will do it RIGHT.
Set yourself up for success by starting with a manageable load. I suggest you choose one or two platforms to start with. The best way to guarantee consistency is to incorporate social media into your daily routine. Block out the time on your calendar, turn off all distractions and dedicate time to managing your social media accounts. Do this in one or two different time slots every day. You should create some scheduled messages at this time and set them to post at different times a day. There’s nothing more annoying that someone who posts several things all at once.
In your first month or two, expect to spend a minimum of 15-30 minutes a day on social activities. You can increase the time as you see fit.