Where to start with social media for your business
When people –particularly business owners – find out I work in social media, they inevitably ask for some advice. Social can be an overwhelming place for a small business owner. Seems like every business but yours is on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pintrest, YouTube, Google+ and, of course, “it’s the greatest thing ever and you have to get on there.” The truth is, social media doesn’t make sense for every business and it takes some real thought before you jump into the pool.
So when I get cornered a dinner party, by someone wondering whether social media is for their business, here are the five things I suggest they think about:
1. What is your goal?
Social can do a lot of things. You can use it to advertise promotions or events, build your company’s brand, support your customers, make sales and pretty much anything else you can imagine. Sounds pretty awesome right? It is, but if you run a business you don’t have a ton of time and will need to focus. What you want to get out of it.? First, decide WHY you want to be on social. Spoiler alert: if you are doing it “because it sounds cool and everyone else is, stop now and dedicate the time to your finances or a hobby; it’ll be a better use of time.
What problem are you trying to solve for your business? Do you need to find more customers? Do you need more word of mouth? Do you need a way to promote your weekend sales? Think about what it is that you want out of social media and then start building from there.
2. Who is your audience?
Congratulations, you are already on your way to being digital marketer. The next thing you need to do is figure out who your audience is. Understanding who you are talking to will help you craft HOW you talk to them. Start thinking about what they are doing online, what social platforms are they using? What kind of content to they engage with? When you start to understand the people behind their various social profiles, you will be able to connect with them in a meaningful way. This step is also key in figuring out what social platforms you should try out.
3. What does success look like?
Ok great now you know what you want to get out of social and who you are trying to reach. The next step is to think about what a successful outcome will look like. Set yourself some goals and find a way to measure against them. Having some kind of metric in place that you are trying to achieve is going to force you to focus on what you need to do to reach your goals. Each social platform has different analytics built in, so dig in and pick the metrics that closely align with your goals. Once you start tracking against your goals its important to keep an eye on it regularly. You will learn what kind of posts are most effective, what time of the day you get the most engagement and much more that can help you shift and refine your strategy.
4. What social network works best for your brand/product?
One of the most frequent questions I get asked is “What social network should I be on? Do I need to be on all of them?” You absolutely don’t need to be on every social network. Each platform has its strengths and weaknesses and you will need to do a bit of research on each one you’re considering. Take a look at what other companies in your category are doing and where they are doing it. Pinterest may work great if you make custom cupcakes, but not so well if you’re a plumber for example. As our Social for Small Business series continues, we will take a look at each major platform and how you can use them to grow your business.
5. How much time can you commit?
Social media can be a big time eater. Many people think “I use Facebook all the time, it’s easy to just post some stuff there”. Very true, it doesn’t take a lot of time if you decide to just throw posts up on your wall and see what sticks. However if you want to see some kind of business results out of social you need a plan.
We will talk about making a social media plan later but for now we are just talking about the day-to-day. You need to take a good look at your daily routine and determine if you can dedicate the extra time to dedicate to it. Consistency on social is key. Consistently growing your audience, consistently posting content that they will care about and consistently engaging with them.
In addition to running your business, looking for new customers, managing employees and the million other things you have to do, here are a few things you will have to do to execute on social media effectively:
- Plan out what posts you’re going to make daily. (content calendar)
- Write your daily posts & publish them. (can be done daily or on some platforms scheduled ahead of time)
- Respond to people who are reaching out to you through social media. (Social is not a one way street. You will post something and people will talk back expecting interaction)
- Possibly deal with customer care situations through social. (Customer complaints and questions may come in and you have no choice but to answer them.)
On top of the publishing/engagement side of it, you may decide to use one of the paid advertising options like Facebook Ads or promoted Tweets. Setting up and managing those campaigns is another block of time you have to think about. We will dive deeper into that in our up coming Facebook For Small Business post.