It’s a fact: a lot has changed in the online world over the last fifteen years. What started as a simple way to stay connected with friends and loved ones via the web has exploded into a daily necessity for individuals to get information on current events, community updates, and find new, local businesses. And while your business may already have a website, there’s plenty of benefits to getting your business on social media.
If you’re a small business owner or startup, there is a good chance you’re strapped for resources, time, and budget. The thought of coming up with a ton of different social media strategies can seem like a daunting task. But it doesn’t have to be–take a deep breath and simply come up with a streamlined action plan that is tailored just for your business.
Instead of going crazy signing up and posting on every single social media site, just focus on those that are right for you, and then consider getting more in-depth with a particular social network where it makes the most sense for your business. You can also take advantage of the various social media marketing management software available. Programs like Sprout Social and HootSuite help to streamline your social media work, in turn helping you with time management.
Do Your Homework
Before launching your social media campaigns, it’s wise to do some competitive research first. Thousands of solopreneurs choose a .tel web address, and it sends a strong message that your business truly believes in the power of local business. If you’re a local business, make sure to check out your local competition before launching your social media strategies. Do a simple Google search for your core keywords (i.e., Atlanta Pizza) and check out which businesses show up at the top. Visit those sites, check out their profiles, and take notes. Perhaps some of their strategies could work well for you too. A few things you may want to take note of:
- What sites are they on? How often are they posting?
- What’s their strategy? Are they strictly focused on their own sites, or do they reshare content from others?
- What kind of promotions is the business running across each site? (E.g. contests, discounts, & giveaways)
- How are they interacting with customers?
- What are customers saying about them?
- What type of content are they posting?
Take note of what effect a business’ strategies may be having. For example, if you know for a fact that one of your competitors is doing exceptionally well, and you see they are especially active with their promos and customer interactions on Facebook, then you may want to do the same.
Social Media 101
Facebook is the most popular social networking websites with over 2.9B active monthly users, according to Statista. For personal use, it is used to stay connected with friends through status updates and direct messages. For businesses, you can create your own Facebook Pages, gain followers and “likes,” and also pay to advertise.
Due to the sheer number of users and its user-friendliness, Facebook Business is a great way to communicate with your customers. Share your latest updates, post contests, and let people know about new services and products. And with over 200 million businesses on the platform, most customers require businesses to have a Facebook page before they even consider contacting them.
A Google Business Profile is a free profile that helps your business stand out when customers perform a basic search. With a Google Business Profile, you can easily help a customer find your location by opening maps with your address pre-loaded, call you with just one click, and even point customers to your .tel website.
Creating a Google Profile is an easy start-up process, and according to Google, verified businesses on Google are twice as likely to be considered reputable. Interact with customers by collecting and responding to reviews, post photos, and keep customers updated on your regular and holiday hours.
Instagram is a mobile photo-sharing platform which allows users to take pictures or videos, edit, post them to your Instagram profile. Since Instagram is owned by Facebook, you can easily share the post across to your Facebook Business profile as well. According to Statista, Instagram is the fourth largest social network with 1,478M active users, monthly.
Remember that Instagram is slightly different than Facebook in that posts are all about the ‘aesthetic;’ so post images that are truly compelling, and take note of what you like about the accounts you admire–especially online brands. If you have a business, think of Instagram as a mini-magazine showcasing your brand. For example, if you carry clothing, post compelling pics of your new inventory. If you’re a local business, share pictures which are related to your city, and make sure to use corresponding hashtags.
LinkedIn is a social networking and job listing website for professionals. Users can create business pages, post resumes, endorse and review past and current colleagues, search for and post jobs, post brand links and updates, and add connections. Recruiters often post jobs and communicate directly to users whose profiles appear in results for industry topic searches. LinkedIn groups are a great way to chat about topics within an industry.
Although LinkedIn is an indispensable tool for job searching, it is also a powerful online reputation tool for businesses as well. It’s also important to know that profiles often rank highly within search engines. Make sure your profile is thorough, well-written and updated often. Join groups in your industry to make new connections, and reach out to all of your current ones.
Think of Twitter as a mini-blogging platform. Tweets must be fewer than 280 characters and can include status updates, links to sites, and ongoing conversations. Hashtags are used (always followed by the # symbol) and the most popular end up being “trending topics.” Users communicate with each other and their followers in their Tweets and followers by adding the @ symbol followed by the username.
Twitter can be a great way to post updates about your brand, get involved in your industry’s community, interact with customers, post about blog post/content updates to your site and link to related interviews or online mentions about your brand. But remember that the most successful ‘Tweeters’ are those who Tweet frequently – as in multiple times per day. If you’re opting for Twitter, make sure you’ve got the time to make this channel successful for your business.
YouTube is an extremely popular video sharing site. While many videos are user-generated, many startups, brands and media sites create channels and upload videos as well. It’s an awesome way to tell your story to the world. Users can save videos they like and organize them, follow users, and post videos across platforms such as Facebook. Popular YouTube “stars” can have millions of followers!
A clever and funny video can go viral and achieve huge success for an online brand. If you’re a local brand, you may want to consider creating a channel and posting your own videos and other interesting videos you like. A boutique and showcase their newest inventory in a runway show, or maybe a local bakery can provide a step-by-step cake baking lesson. Get creative! Remember that YouTube videos show up heavily in search engine results, so stay active and use the platform to amplify your brand.
- Decide what your social media goals will be before you begin
- Do competitive research and take note of which competitors’ strategies may work for you
- Register for and create a page for the major sites you want to focus on
- Don’t join every social media platform; decide which platforms are right for you and your business.
- Add content buttons to your website and at the end of your blog posts and product pages
- Consistently post great content and make it easy to share
- Participate in the community and heavily interact with users
- Get creative with your activity
- Consider running social media contests and promotions
- Make sure your social media profiles reflect a strong presence in your local community
Need some help on what content you should post on your social page? Check out our other blog post, The Do’s and Don’ts of Business Social Media Posting!