Are you considering using social media to promote your small business? Here are 10 social media tips for small businesses to help you get the most from social media.
- Be aware of free learning resources
There are literally thousands of blogs and forums full of social networking advice for small businesses, some of the better ones includeSEOmoz.com and searchenginewatch.com. If you’re going to run your social media campaign in-house, ensure the staff made responsible for its management are given the time to learn and develop their skills.
- Research your competitors social media strategies
Social media and social networking websites are already very popular amongst small to medium businesses. If you’re new to social media, take a look at what your competitors and other local businesses are doing. An effective social media campaign isn’t about reinventing the wheel; it’s about making the best use of the tools available. After researching how they’ve used social media and what’s worked for them, you’ll be in a much better position to plan your own strategy.
- Plan your social media marketing strategy
The first mistake many small businesses make is not taking social media seriously. If you have a social media presence that isn’t planned and managed professionally, you’ll run the risk of doing your business more harm than good. Your social media strategy should be treated similarly to any other marketing activities and integrated into your overall marketing plan. Use careful planning to set out a clear roadmap for your campaign and have specific goals and objectives. It’s likely your plan will be split into two stages; 1) campaign set-up and launch, 2) monthly management.
- Establish how you the success of your campaign will be measured
Social media management is time consuming so it’s important to ensure that your efforts convert customers and achieve a positive return on investment. Manually record leads and conversions that come directly from social media accounts. Set goals for Twitter followers and Facebook likes. And use Google Analytics to track visitors to your website from your social media accounts (Google Analytics is very simple to set up on the majority of web platforms).
- Launch your social media campaign
Having learnt about social media from the experts, planned your campaign and determined how success will be measured you’re ready to launch your campaign. Set up a business email address to set up the accounts and fully complete your social media profiles before promoting them. Don’t invite all your friends to like your Facebook page, invite only those who may be interested in hearing about your business. If you have a blog or use email marketing, use them to let your customers know which social networking platforms you’re on.
- Integrate social media with your website
It’s highly likely your customers and potential customers spend more time on social networking websites than your business website. Integrate social media with your website so customers can add/follow/like you. In future, they’ll be able to find out about your sales, promotions and company news from the comfort of their social media profiles. The addition of a Facebook fan box, Twitter feed and icons linking to your social media profiles are all highly recommended and easy to do.
- Manage your campaign
Schedule in time to work on your social media profiles but also be flexible so you can reply to messages and join conversations quickly. Remember that anything said is a direct reflection of the company so avoid sensitive subjects such as politics and religion. Don’t use profanity or be critical of your competitors. Do thank people for their feedback, promote your best content (offers, sales, new projects etc) and share your knowledge.
- Dealing with negative feedback
One of the common criticisms of using social media for businesses is the potential for negative feedback and public criticism. If you suffer from poor feedback from a customer, you won’t be judged on what they’ve said but how you dealt with. Mediate and resolve the issue, publicly or privately, depending on the customer’s preference.
- Monitor your social media activity and report success
Monitor the influence of your social media activity on generating traffic to your business website, direct leads, likes and comments etc. At the end of each month review your campaigns progress and highlight areas of success. As the campaign progresses you’ll get a better handle on which social networking websites are working best for you and the types of content your customers engage with.
- Use your monitoring and reporting to improve your campaign
Your social media campaign should be constantly tweaked and improved as it progresses. Use the knowledge gained from monitoring and reporting to streamline your campaign. Invest more time in the most successful areas and re-think your strategy where it has been ineffective. If you’re particularly pleased with results from social media and its generating business look into social networking platforms you may not yet have used. For example, set up a YouTube account if you have video content, look into Four Square if you customers come to you.
Final thought: If you haven’t registered your business on Google places, do it now. It’s a must have for all small to medium businesses. Good luck!