While many large commercial organisations have invested big money in social media, there are still many others who haven’t invested heavily with time or money. It’s not a part of their marketing plan quite yet. Social media for business is still an emerging area, and if big business isn’t seeing the value in it, it’s understandable that small businesses are finding it hard to justify the addition to their marketing plan.
As a small business operator, I know that time and money can be tight, and if you’re running a lean business, you only invest in the things you need. Trust me, you do need social media as part of your marketing plan, but you need to approach it strategically. In my experience, most organisations aren’t putting measures in place to assess how their social media endeavours are performing, which is why there is still hesitancy to adopt it.
One of the best measurable ways to use social media to support your business is to use it for lead generation. Whether you’re looking to sell a product, build an email list, find new customers or clients or get more people using your service, social media can help generate leads if you focus on conversions.
A Strategic Approach
One of the biggest mistakes you can make in social media is to dive in and not have a real goal in mind. Whether you’re yet to venture into social media or you have an established footprint, you can and should create a social media strategy.
Start by considering your objectiveâ€†â€” what do you want to achieve? Here, it’s lead generation.
Next, look at who your customers or audience members are, where they are most active online, and what sort of things they’re interested in. Then devise a plan: How will you use social media? And which platforms will work best for you?
Stick with that plan. Don’t deviate unless there is clear evidence it isn’t working, and in that case, re-strategise.
Here are some tactics you can use on each of the platforms and which might be best suited to your business.
Blogging can be time intensive, but if you work to a plan and maintain a consistent approach it is worthwhile. Blogging creates content for you to share on the social media sites through which you promote your business. Blogging also helps to optimise your website for search and allows you to include calls to action to contact you.
There are two main options for Facebook lead generation.
You can create interesting and engaging content and include a link to your website. Ensure the page you link to on your site has a clear call to action and reason for customers to get in touch with you. You can also create a special offer, which people can only take up via social media. This can be a discount, refer-a-friend perk or gift with purchase.
The Facebook audience is mass market. The content that works best here is concise and easy to understand. Put some money behind a “boostâ€ post to really get the most value, and make sure you use Facebook’s targeting options to reach your intended audience.
You can use Twitter similarly to Facebook, however the audience differs. Here you need clever, unique content to cut through the clutter. It’s important to use images or video and to research hashtags, which help to reach your niche audience. Remember, there are advertising options for small businesses on Twitter as well.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking LinkedIn is for business-to-business only.
If white-collar workers make up part of your audience, you’ll find them here. Create a company page and start sharing relevant content. Participate in groups to showcase your knowledge and expertise and add as many business contacts as you’re able. Check who’s been viewing your profile and send them a message to ask if you can assist with anything.
Again, LinkedIn has advertising products, and if you have the money to invest here, it’s worthwhile as it has granular targeting options and you can measure the return on your investment.
You know your objective is generating leads, so how do you measure the success of your social media activity? Start by setting some targets and ensure you measure them regularly (weekly, monthly or quarterly).
- View the analytics provided by Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, and see how many clicks your content is generating.
- Use Google Analytics on your website to check which social media sites are referring traffic to your website. Create goals to see which convert to sales, inquiries, event RSVPs or other actions you want people to take on your website.
- If you make a special offer via social media only, such as boosting a Facebook post, track how many offers were used in a specified time period and weigh the spend along with potential return customers against the time and money invested in the social media activity.
- Evaluate how many phone numbers or emails you have added to your contacts list by using social media
- If you have a contact form on your website or you speak to customers on the phone, ask where they heard about you. Track if it’s by word of mouth, social media, email or other means.
It’s important to approach all of your social media activity as strategically as you do running other aspects of your business. If you track and measure how your tactics are (or aren’t) working for you, you will discover opportunities to create social conversations, which will ultimately lead to more potential customers.