Social media offers low cost, powerful channels that small businesses can use as part of their marketing mix. It can help grow your business by delivering valuable content to new and existing customers. Social media can increase brand recognition, improve customer loyalty, and ultimately boost sales.
A recent Social Media Marketing Industry Report revealed that 92% of marketers working with small businesses view social media as critical to their marketing efforts. Over 70% of small businesses see a return on investment (ROI) from a social media presence.
We developed a short and easy social media guide to help you take advantage of these benefits.
Step 1: Define S.M.A.R.T. Goals
The first step to effective social media marketing is defining your goals. Your goals should follow the S.M.A.R.T. framework, meaning they should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. Your goals will provide a road map that will streamline and guide all social media activities.
Here are some specific S.M.A.R.T goals:
- Increase online sales volume by 50% over the next 12 months through social media campaigns
- Expand brand presence by increasing Facebook post volume by 25% in the next 6 months
- Increase audience engagement by increasing Twitter shares by 15% in the next year
Step 2: Choose your Platforms Wisely
Once you have established your goals, you can use them to choose the best social media platforms for your business. There are a variety of platforms available, and each cater to different audiences and serve different purposes. Instead of spreading your resources thin across a variety of platforms, we recommend focusing your resources to have a strong presence on the platforms that best fit with your goals and customers.
You should first look at your goals. For instance, if your goal is to recruit new employees, you should consider LinkedIn which would best meet that specific objective.
It is important to also consider where on social media your specific customers spend the most time. For example, Twitter has a strong teen presence, so if you want to reach teenage customers, you should consider this platform.
Also consider your main business activities. If your business sells clothing, you should consider Instagram, a visual platform where you could post images of clothing and accessories.
Finally, take a look at which platforms your competitors are using. There are a variety of ways to perform a competitive audit, which you can learn more about them on Social Media Examiner’s article, 4 Free Tools to Analyze Your Social Media Competitors.
Step 3: Create Descriptive, Consistent Profiles
Now that you have chosen the correct platform, it is important to create consistent profiles across each. Upon first glance of your profiles, customers should know your core business activities and brand identity. Consistent profiles will show your audience that your company is reputable and legitimate.
You can use the following tips to ensure that your social media profiles are consistent and complete:
- Use your business name as the username on all platforms
- Use the same logo or photo as a profile picture across platforms
- Use the same fonts, colors, and imagery on all platforms and your website
- Include a link to your website and phone number on all profiles
- Include up-to-date company information, including business description, address, and contact information
Step 4: Plan and Publish Engaging Content
Publishing content is the next step in bringing your social media platforms to life. Frequently posting new content is an incredible way to improve search engine optimization, expand your audience, and gain new customers. However, since small business owners and employees often juggle multiple tasks and have limited time, this can be challenging. Many businesses make the mistake of creating a social media account but failing to actively post content.
Creating and sticking to a calendar is a great way to avoid this mistake. A content calendar makes it easier to organize your social media platforms and ensure that you are staying on top of your social media presence. The first step of creating a content calendar is determining which content best resonates with your customer base. A great way to do this is to look back at your own posts to see which were successful. You can even look at competitors’ posts to see which had the most shares and likes. Next, decide on how often to post. We recommend the following:
- Facebook: 3 times per week
- Twitter: 5 times per week
- LinkedIn: 2 times per week
- Pinterest: 2 times per week
Once you know the type and frequency of content best for your audience you can begin posting! Many businesses center their posts around content from their blog.
Your content should include useful and relevant information that engages your audience. For instance, if you own a bakery, an engaging and relevant piece of content could be an article with the top recipes for fall. Posts should be related to your business and keep your business top of mind. There are a variety of online tools to make this process simple and quick. Hootsuite, for example, is a platform that provides calendar templates to help you manage content, post content, and view analytics of all of your social profiles in the same place. You can create multiple posts at one time, and it will automatically publish these posts at scheduled times you choose. This allows you to take care of all social media activity in just one sitting.
Step 5: Take Advantage of Social Media SEO
In a past blog post we discussed why Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is important to consider when managing your website. However, SEO should also be top of mind when creating profiles and publishing content on social media. Using best practices to optimize both your profiles and posts is crucial to ensure that you reach the right customers.
One extremely easy way to do this is to make sure that all fields of your profile are complete so that Google and other search engines can better identify who you are and what you do.
Another key SEO rule is to post content that will be engaging and meaningful to your customers. A main goal of social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter is to keep users on their platforms. These companies are most likely to display the content that their users find most interesting and engaging. As a result, if more people view, like, and share your posts, platforms will be more likely to show your posts on your follower’s pages.
While creating and maintaining a social media presence requires some effort, it is well worth it and can provide significant ROI for your small business.