First off, It can be a lot. I just thought I’d share some information I presented a group of businesses that were starting out. If you’re in this boat, then read on. Hope it helps!
Social media has become an ever increasing part a small business marketing strategy. This is because it mostly levels the playing field between large, medium-sized and small businesses. The access is equal. The effectiveness of the strategy is a combination of funding, content management, and execution.
The internet is responsible for about 87% of all purchasing decisions so it is vastly important to have a web presence. Social media helps a business by establishing a web presence and most importantly, places your brand in front of customers with their mobile devices which are never that far from the customer.
My clients are great at making their products and delivering their service. They ask my advice on all aspects of business and marketing, including how to develop a solid social media strategy. Many times, they have no idea how social media works for business, and more importantly, how much time, and money should be dedicated to implementing a strategy. After doing so a few years, I have created a simple framework that helps them make these decisions, because let’s face it, owners are busy. They need something simple to help them make these decisions.
I generally use this guideline to explain to them what they would need to do to develop their brands on social media and help them make choices.
Why social media?
Social media puts your business in front of your customers. More importantly, if set up correctly it will target customers who will most likely buy your products and who are located near enough to visit your business. Billions of people use social media so the opportunities are limitless. Are far what you pay, the cost is minimal compared to other forms of advertising.
Here’s the thing. Social media is mostly free. You pay for your business to increase your frequency or amount of times customers will see your business.
Understand that each social media site has its own rules, behaviors, and audiences. How effective your social media marketing is relative to how closely your business follows those rules.
Get Your Profile Together.
Answer the who, what, when, where, and why of your business. Get some good pictures together, Create a story or narrative about why your business is better than the competition. Write what makes it special. You will be copying and pasting this information a few times, so it helps to write it out and save it in Word.
Important! Have a monthly Budget for Marketing. Market at least 30minutes a day!
Google is a giant and Search Engine Marketing is vastly important. Basically, you want people to be able to find your business and have it look credible online. Basic internet behavior states that the higher a business appears in search results, the “better” it is.
Create your business on the site, add some pictures, and build your profile. In a few weeks, google will send you a postcard with a code that will make your listing official. Now that your business is official, it will create a small dot on google maps. As time goes on people will leave reviews and comments and that dot gets bigger and your business starts to move up when people google the services that your business provides. Why? Because Google ranks results based on many aspects including but not limited to how close your business is relative to the person searching for it.
Should I pay?
Registration is free. What you would pay for is an ad on top or on the side of search results. If you have some extra money in the budget then, by all means, pay a small amount and target it towards the area that your business is in for about a month, just so people can know that you are there.
Facebook is another giant, with many rules. I’ll try my best to keep it simple. On Facebook, your business is essentially, a person. It has a look, a personality, a lifestyle, etc. Thinking about your business in that manner will allow you to be “interesting” and post interesting content. Interesting content gets liked and shared which will give you more exposure “Organically”. Organically means how well you content spreads with paying. So your post should contain happy people enjoying your products, beautiful storefronts, videos on how you make something, etc. Again, because it’s Social.
Should I pay?
Signing up is free. Make sure you sign up as a business and not as an individual. You have to have a personal account in order to have a business account, so if you don’t have one, create one.
Yes, you should pay at the beginning. It’s not that expensive. You can pay as little as $5 a day and Facebook will post your page on people’s timeline that is near your business or have similar interest. You have to build your following or “likes” up. Likes=credibility. After about 2 or 3 weeks you should have a good number of likes and you can stop paying. The next time you should pay is when you have a new product, sale, or some special event in which you can use that same amount to advertise that one post.
There are more rules, but that gets you a start.
Twitter is a great public relations vehicle. By using Twitter, you can have almost direct conversations with news people, elected officials, community organizations, and customers. Getting followers takes time but the conversations with customers are immediate. You can participate in a conversation about what you offer as well as talk directly to a customer that likes your product or resolve an issue with a customer that dislikes your product.
Just remember “#” = subject of a conversation, “@”= speaking directly to a person i.e. #Astros= you’re participating in a conversation about The Houston Astros. @Astros means that you are speaking directly to the Houston Astros organization.
Should I pay?
No. You can get away with not doing so.
We watch videos all the time on YouTube. Entertainment is going on an on-demand trend which people wish view their content on their own time. Facebook and other social sites offer the ability to post a video, however, without getting too technical, YouTube offers you editing, music, etc. So how can your business use this? Simple. Record the video, edit it your taste. Show how easy your product is, how much better it works than the competition, how happy people are with it, people having fun with your product, etc. Then after that, share, share, share. The great thing about YouTube is that it’s designed to be shared across social media platforms, which means that it works well and shows well no matter how you share, from Facebook to email.
Should I pay?
In the, beginning no. Once your business reaches a certain size then you can use it to experiment on what works before getting into a much larger strategy. YouTube is very good at letting you know what works and what doesn’t
It’s about pictures. Although this site works for almost any business, the more visual the business, the better. If you make wedding cakes, it’s perfect. If you make clothing, it’s perfect. Hair design, custom cars, custom barbeque grills, all these are perfect for Instagram because it is visual.
Should I pay?
Nope. You’re all good if you don’t.
LinkedIn is a professional networking site in which you can connect with people that work in different fields. Have a professional picture taken, make a professional profile, and you’re good to go. You can use this learn many things about what’s going on in the industry in which your business is in, articles on how to run your businesses better, human resource questions, and tons of information that you can use to be a better professional. You can network with people that can give you advice, hire someone, or even get hired to do a job.
Should I pay?
No. Everything that you will need is free.
Yelp, YP, and other services provide a directory, like on online phonebook for your business. Register on them. Many people use these services for rating and directions. Doing so also helps your business have a high search engine ranking and deliver your business customers that are looking specifically for the service that your business is providing.
Social media is great a providing you with data on the customer; current and potential. They keep data on location, age, sex, buying habits, when they are online, what technology they are using to access the web, and so much more. This information not only allows you adjust your social media strategy but also your business strategy. Use it.
- Social media works if your business actively participates in it. We’re talking 2-3 post on a week, especially on Facebook. Suggestion: Get a relative who lives on social media to handle your account if you’re too busy.
- Your brand is at stake. Be social, be interesting, and be nice. Always show your best side.
- Have a purpose. Have a reason. Answer the question, “Why should I care?” when you post anything.
- Words are okay, pictures are better, a video is best.
- Demographics determine how well all marketing works. Here’s a resource: http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/01/09/demographics-of-key-social-networking-platforms-2/