Getting your small business set up with social media accounts is a great first step. But if you don’t have a strategy guiding your social media efforts, you won’t see the kind of results you want. Many small business owners mistakenly assume that success on social media simply comes from posting regularly. But it is a bit more complicated than that. Like with most things marketing, an awesome social media strategy involves a lot of moving pieces. It will take time to put your strategy together and even more time as you tweak and perfect your techniques. However, when all is said and done, you’ll find that your business will get more online exposure, your customer base will expand, and your profits will increase. Below, we cover those things that go into creating a worthwhile social media strategy so you can hit the ground running.
Check Out Your Competitors
There’s no shame in taking some time to look at your competitors’ social media accounts to see what they’re doing. Now obviously, this research isn’t so that you can directly copy their efforts. Instead, it will give you a chance to see how well they’re connecting with customers, what their approach entails, and what sort of brand personality they’ve adopted. Most importantly, when you understand your competitors and their social media marketing strategies, you’ll be better able to make your own products/services stand out.
Define Your Brand Personality
Your brand’s personality will help to guide the direction you take with your social media accounts. It may be that you’ve already started creating a personality for your brand. Take a look at the colors used on your website and your logo. What types of feelings do these things convey? It can also be helpful to think of the adjectives you’d use to describe your brand as if it were a person.
Often brand personality is broken down into five core categories: ruggedness, sincerity, excitement, sophistication, and competence. Each of these categories can be broken down even further to better define a brand’s attributes and its ideal audience. For example, a company marketing itself as sophisticated would want to target consumers who like high end products or services. Keep in mind that your brand personality isn’t relegated to just one category – it can encompass several.
Your target audience will play a big role in the direction you decide to take with your brand personality. Essentially, it needs to resonate with your target audience in order to be attractive. It’s much like developing friendships and other interpersonal relationships – you seek out those who have appealing character traits. As such, the more clearly defined picture you have of your ideal customer, the better. Developing target audience personas can help you further pinpoint exactly how you want your brand to come across.
Once you have a good handle on the personality and characteristics you want your brand to embody and exude, this should make it easier to decide the tone you want to use for your social media posts.
Choose the Best Social Media Platforms
Not all social media platforms are created equal and some work better for certain businesses than others. In order to pick the best platform for your needs, you’ll need to know your target audience and its demographics, what types of content you plan on posting, and how many accounts/profiles you can realistically manage.
In terms of who uses which platform, 68% of U.S. adults use Facebook. Of those, 52% are women. Broken down by age, 81% of 18- to 29-year-olds, 78% of 30- to 49-year-olds, and 65% of 50- to 64-year-olds use Facebook. This platform is ideal for posting curated content and visual content like videos, infographics, and photos.
YouTube is also incredibly popular as 73% of U.S. adults use it. Fifty-five percent of YouTube users are men. A whopping 91% of 18- to 29-year-olds use YouTube as do 85% of 30- to 49-year-olds and 68% of 50- to 64-year-olds. Obviously, though, you will need video content in order to take advantage of this platform’s huge reach.
The next most popular social media site is Instagram, with 35% of U.S. adults using it. Among the users, 68% are women. The age breakdown drops off more dramatically than other social media sites with 64% of 18- to 29-year-olds, 40% of 30- to 49-years-olds, and 21% 50- to 64-year-olds reporting themselves as Instagram users. This site focuses exclusively on visual content, including videos of up to 60 seconds in length. Instagram is a good choice if you’re working on building your brand. Posts don’t include links back to your site, which means that potential customers will have to look at your profile in order to find that information.
This list just scratches the surface. As you’re surely aware, there are many more social media platforms out there. Twitter (24% of U.S. adult users) is a popular choice among small and large businesses alike. It’s great for connecting with customers, networking, and getting messages out quickly. Pinterest (29% of U.S. adult users) is a fantastic choice for businesses that sell products pertaining to travel, fashion, home decor, food, and art. And while statistics on Google Plus usage are difficult to come by and verify, there is some evidence to suggest that posting on Google Plus can help to boost search results rankings. Finally, Snapchat and tumblr are wonderful marketing avenues for audiences under the age of 24.
Don’t forget to consider how much time you or your marketing staff has to manage your social media accounts. While there are a number of tools out there that can help you schedule posts and manage these accounts, they’ll still need attention. If you’re a small business owner and don’t have a dedicated social media marketing team, you’ll probably want to limit your social media accounts to Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus to begin with.
Set Up & Strategize
Now it’s time to get your chosen social media accounts set up. You’ll want to make sure all of your profiles are completely filled out and consistent across the board. It’s also a good idea to ensure that your photos are the same for every account. For example, your profile and cover photos on Facebook should be the same as your profile and header photos on Twitter. This consistency helps to develop brand recognition.
Mission Statement & Goals
Having a social media mission statement is one to-do item that business owners frequently overlook. With your mission statement, you need to clearly set forth how you intend to help your target audience by way of your social media accounts. What needs does your audience have that your social media presence can help to address? Once you’ve created your mission statement, let it guide the types of content you post.
While your social media mission statement reflects the needs of the customer, your social media goals should address the needs and challenges of your business. Some common social media goals include things like increasing website traffic, getting more leads, and spreading brand awareness.
Craft Your Strategy
Your social strategy will be built off your goals, so it’s important that those goals are not only clear and straightforward but also realistic. The strategy you develop should also explicitly address how you’re going to achieve these goals. In order to measure the success of your strategy, it’s a good idea to identify which social metrics are most important to you (likes, shares, engagement, reach, clicks, etc.). For example, are you most interested in getting clicks or would you more like to see your posts getting shared?
A social media calendar will play a vital role in your strategy. This calendar will identify when you’ll be posting, the different types of content you’ll be using, the target audiences for the different posts, and who’s responsible for creating the content and/or the posts. The calendar helps to get everyone on the same page and ensure that everything happens according to schedule.
With regard to content, make sure you include a good mix of content types. Visual content like video and photos are always quite popular, but each audience is unique. In addition, don’t sell too much on social media. Try to maintain the 80/20 split where 80% of your posts entertain, inspire, or educate your audience and 20% of your posts engage in direct selling or promoting. Remember to use that brand personality you’ve created to find the right voice for all of your posts.
Test, Tweak, and Evolve
Whenever you’re posting links to your own site on social media, make sure you use UTM parameters. UTM parameters are just tags that get appended to a URL and once they’re clicked on, that information gets sent to Google Analytics. You can then go into your Analytics account to get a very thorough picture of who’s clicked on your links and what they do on your site after they get there. Many of the social media sites also have their own analytics. Using all of these tools together will help you identify which messages or types of content are resonating the most with your audience. In turn, this information will help you fine-tune your strategy and messages and make them even more effective. Essentially, your social media plan needs to be constantly evolving in order to stay relevant to your target customers.
Stay On Top of It
Thankfully, managing social media accounts no longer takes hours and hours. There are a variety of free and low-cost tools out that make it easy to schedule your posts in advance. Some options include buffer, Hootsuite, and Buzzlogix. Even better, there are tools that can help you curate content for your social accounts. So you don’t need to worry about scouring the internet for good content that appeals to your audience. A few options for content curation tools include Scoop.it, Anders Pink, and ContentGems.
While it is beneficial to have your posts scheduled in advance, it’s also good to have someone monitoring your accounts. You’ll want to know if someone mentions you on social media or if they’re trying to contact you via direct message. If you or a member of your marketing team can stay up to date on trending items, that can be especially useful. If there’s something trending on social media that relates positively to your goods or services, it doesn’t hurt to take advantage of that to get even more eyes on your business.
How’s Your Social Media Marketing Strategy Looking?
If you’re interested in developing a more comprehensive marketing strategy for your small business, Green Monkey Marketing can help. We offer full-service marketing packages that will help your company get found online. Give us a call at (720) 389-0564 or contact us to learn more about how we can help you.