SOCIAL MEDIA, SMALL BUSINESS

 How to Master Social Media for Your Business

Joanna Michaels, Beyond Social Buzz

Social Media is no longer just an optional marketing channel for your small business or a startup. It is now an integral part of a business’ digital marketing strategy and it’s essential for connecting with your audience and getting your brand in front of the right people.

Let me tell you about a meeting I had the other day with a new client, an established dental practice. I asked the owner about their social media activity to date and she told me that they post every day on their social channels. When I asked “who is the person responsible for posting?” she said “I am.”

I was quite surprised as I know she is a very busy dentist. Hence, I asked “how do you find time for it, while running a business?” She said “I finish work in the evening, go back home, have my dinner and when I finally get time, which is normally around after 10pm, I post something quickly so I know it has been done.”

After working with startups and SMEs over the last six years, I know that this is not an isolated example. When it comes to social media, most small businesses dive in without planning, without asking the key question: Why? Why I am doing it? Because everyone else is?

Be strategic

Establish WHY your are using social media for your business? What do you want to achieve?

A scattered approach to social media (and marketing in general) is one of the quickest ways to waste your money, your time and resources. What we need is Strategy. Strategy gets results. It will help your business to stay focused, to be proactive, to ensure that your social media activity is aligned with your overall business goals, and finally, allow you to analyse your activity and refine your approach so you can be more effective going forward.

So let’s take a minute to think about it. What Social Media Goals you would like to set for your business this year? Increase brand awareness?Improve customers’ loyalty? Generate more leads?

Once you set your social media goals keep in mind the word SMART.

SMART is an acronym that will help to make your goals Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely.

So here’s an example of a SMART goal for a business that wants to increase brand awareness in the local area:

  • Gain 100 relevant, local Instagram followers by the end of March

Or, if you want to generate more leads:

  • Gain 50 new newsletters subscribers by the end of March

Track your progress

Now you clarified your objectives, don’t forget to track your progress.

Another common mistake made by small businesses is failing to measure results of their social media activity. Many businesses get so caught up in pushing out content that they forget to stop and analyse how their current marketing is performing. But without measuring and analysing your activity you can never tell whether your social media activity is working or not. You can never improve your results.

Analytics will provide you with some key information, like:

  • the levels of engagement
  • click through rates to your website
  • when your fans are online
  • how many are seeing your posts

Based on this information you can see:

  • what’s working
  • what needs tweaking
  • and what is not working at all.

This knowledge allows you to refine your approach and improve your results going forward.

The majority of social media platforms have their own built-in analytics like Facebook Insights, Instagram Analytics, Twitter Analytics. There are also some great external tools such as Google Analytics, Buffer, Hootsuite, Buzz Sumo and more.

Be consistent

Social media is not a sprint. It’s a marathon. And just like running it takes time and commitment. Many small businesses are impatient, they jump from one marketing approach to another, never settling on one idea, never allowing time to gather tangible results and track patterns. This approach can once again result in wasted spend, targeting the wrong audience, investing in the wrong platforms.

So here is my ideal formula for consistency in social media:

  • Consistent volume (once you decide on your schedule, post at a regular interval. Your community will get used to hearing from you and expect your posts. Don’t let them down)
  • Consistent quality (A quality post is what usually attracts people to a social media profile initially, and if the quality is delivered consistently- they are hooked)
  • Consistent voice (this is the voice of your brand- does each of your posts share a consistent set of values and outlook?) If you haven’t come up with a voice and tone for your social media content – now’s a great time to start.
  • Consistent topics (Consistency with topics helps to establish you and your brand as an expert in your field, and find the right niche.

Know your customer

Who is your target client? Know their age, their location and lifestyle. What are their pain points, how does your product or service solve their problem? Finally, which social media platforms do they use?

It’s nearly impossible — and almost always ineffective — to be active on every single social media platform. Why? Because your target audience isn’t going to use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin and Snapchat in equal proportion. You need to interact with your customers where they want to meet you.

So do your research, know your audience and select relevant platforms.

Tell your story

What’s your story? As human beings, we love stories. They bring us together, give credibility, create interaction, and most importantly for business, they produce trust.

Famous brands such as Disney and Coca-Cola have long realized the power of their brand story to build connection with their audience. The same goes for  Apple, whose stories are legendary in their status.

And what’s the best way to get your story out there? Social Media.

Yes, of course. Your website is still important, but it only establishes that the business, the brand exist, but a social media page shows that the brand is active, responsive and engaging.

Ok, so more to the point. No one wants to sit through a dull story, and not just any story will do. How can a story create that trusting feeling that customers crave? How do we do it exactly?ere are my top tips on sharing your brand story on social media:

Here’re some top tips on sharing your brand story on social media:

  • Focus on the ‘WHY’. Tell your audience why your business exists. An answer like ‘to make money’ is too short sighted. What’s the higher purpose? What’s your mission? In today’s crowded market customers are asking- why should I buy from you? If you can answer this question with a real story, then you’ve built the trust of that customer.
  • Don’t shy away from showing your personality- people trust other people.
  • Keep it simple- simple stories are more trustworthy. Think: Problem- Solution-Success. You explain the problem your brand-set to solve, you describe how you solved it, finally you talk about success and its continuation.
  • Be authentic: Storytelling is most effective when it’s real. So remember to share original images when telling your story. Stock images will never do your brand story justice. Allocate time and resources and take photos or videos of your business, or hire a professional if your budget allows. Most importantly, don’t obsess to much about making it ‘perfect’. People look for authenticity on social media, not perfection.

Be social

Social media is like life. It’s about people. So don’t be that business that doesn’t follow anyone. Be approachable. Be sociable. Introduce yourself. Start conversations. Ask questions. Share what you’re doing. We’re not talking about your personal life. This can be all about business. What’s happening in your business? Do you have expertise and helpful information that you can share? Success stories? Also, it doesn’t have to be all yours or all about you either- you can share lots of great stuff written by others, provided it is relevant to your audience. So share and give credit – it will come back to you. That’s how you create a loyal, engaged community who keep you and your business at the back of their mind, so when they have a need that your product or service can solve, they will come to you and nobody else.

 

 

 

 

 

Like what you reading? Click here for Part 2 

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