I think a lot of small business owners make social media more complex than it needs to be. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it’s easy, but I think if you follow certain processes, you can make the task more manageable.
In this article you won’t find a specific golden bullet, nor am I suggesting it will make you a social media marketing expert in the next 10 minutes.
What I will promise you, though, is you’ll be given the exact process and shown the right tools which will form the basis of your success with social media.
How does that sound?
So, first, you need to make a plan…..
“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”
― Abraham Lincoln
Make a plan
What’s that quote we all like? “Failing to plan is planning to fail” and this is so true with social media.
First off, you need to set some marketing goals – this should be within your marketing plan that either you or your team devised at the beginning of the year.
Don’t worry if you’ve never done this before, there’s never a right or wrong time to start. In fact, most of the clients we start working with have never devised a marketing plan at all for their business, so you’re in great company!
What are your goals?
Is it to increase loyalty?
Build a mailing list of prospective leads?
Highlight your promotions and discounts?
Further engage with your clients?
Grow your personal and business brand?
Whatever the reason, just make sure you have an overall plan for your social media marketing.
Identify your Market
If you’re new to social media marketing, one of the best ways to decide which platform to use is the have a look at what your competitors are doing and start posting your content on there.
Now, let me just stress, this isn’t a long-term strategy – it’s a short-term one. Do this for a few months, just to see how much success you have with overall engagement and the number of times your content is being shared. Once you find which platforms work the best for you, it’s now time to identify your market.
How do you do this?
The first thing you need to do is to look at your current client base and, where possible, try to list the full demographics of this base, ie. location, sex, age, etc.
Next, you’ll want to write out a feature list of your products or services, then write a list of the people who may need what this benefit provides.
This is the basics of identifying your market.
Create a Compelling Bio
Think about the sort of person that will read your bio and whether they will remember you?
Will it make them care about you and would it be the sort of bio that encourages them to do business with you?
This is called “third person perspective” and it’s key to your social media success.
Why is it so important?
Whatever type of content you are writing, you always want to think in third person perspective – it’s not a case of listing everything you want them to know about you and your business. It’s about what thoughts the person who’s reading your content is thinking and you being able to answer some of the internal questions they’re asking.
One of the most important things that people forget when they write their bio is actually including a point of contact. This could either be an email address, telephone number or, at the very least, a website address.
If you want to take things one step further, you can even use a link shortener, which gives you statistics of exactly where your traffic is coming from and which social media platform is giving you the best ROI.
There aren’t many small businesses doing this at the moment, but we found it highly effective and encourage all of our clients to do this.
Here’s a list of different link shorteners you can use:
Bit.ly – Probably the most popular one on this list
Owl.ly – This is the official HootSuite URL shortener
Deck.ly – This is the official TweetDeck URL shortener
Su.pr – Su.pr is StumbleUpon’s official URL shortener
Use a different link for each platform and make a note which one you’re using with which social media platform. Then, take a look at the stats monthly to see where you are getting the most clicks and traffic.
There also needs to be a sense of “what’s in it for me?” with regards to your bio.
Even though we all want to list all of our features and benefits and the great things our company does, the person reading your bio will be reading this subjectively and will want to know exactly what it is you can do for them.
Even though the bio within each platform may be different, the main fundamentals of writing a great bio are similar.
Produce Great Content
So, how exactly do you define a great piece of content for social media?
This will be different for each business, so the important thing is to listen to your audience, take note of the questions that are being asked and figure out what is important to them.
The term is called “social listening” and involves a teeny bit of work on your part to find out what your audience is saying.
Think about this for a minute: What type of content do you actually share on social media and how are you perceived when you share great content?
As I’ve mentioned many times before, the best place to see this in action is to click on the “buffer analytics tab” which gives you some great insight into which ones of your posts are popular and the content your audience is sharing.
Reports can be accessed by heading to the Analytics tab.
If you haven’t got Buffer, they offer a free trial, where you can take the software for a test drive before you decide to subscribe – I highly recommend this!
Posting great content is one thing – knowing how effective and how popular it is, is another!
Don’t forget that great content doesn’t just have to be informative, I’d recommend that you entertain and also be inspirational as some of your audience is looking for a pick-me-up at some point during the day.
Vary your content between text, video, image and also GIFs. This will keep your channels fresh and it will encourage your audience to return to see what you’re posting.
If there’s one thing that lets people down when it comes to being successful on social media, it is not posting content consistently. Not only will your audience never return, they may even unfollow you, which is the worst possible outcome.
Different businesses are going to use different social media channels to publicise their content and I’m not suggesting that you post consistently on every single platform going forward… Just a select few…
However, whichever one you choose to post consistently on, make sure you stick to a schedule that’s realistic and one that your audience come to expect.
There are several social media schedulers like Buffer, Meet Edgar, Co schedule and Hootsuite that will help you post your content consistently.
If you haven’t been using these platforms before, I suggest you try each one and see which one you prefer using. In fact, I’ll even go so far as to say, subscribe for a free trial so you can test drive which one works for you and your business.
One of the best ways to be successful on social media is to engage with your audience.
The best way to start is to engage with those who have engaged with you previously.
For example, on a social media platform like Twitter, you can simply hit the reply button to spark up a conversation with somebody who has commented on one of your tweets.
So, what are the other ways you can engage?
Ask questions – This works extremely well with influencers within your niche when you ask them a question on a piece of content they have just posted.
By not answering your question, they don’t want to come across and be seen as not engaging with their audience, so the chances that they will reply to your question is extremely high.
Don’t believe me? Try asking a question to your local supermarket, a furniture retailer, etc about a product they sell and you might be surprised that you get an answer back within a few hours.
Surprisingly, this is now quite normal – they realise by answering your question and engaging that there’an increased chance of converting you, resulting in you purchasing a product or using one of their services.
That’s why I encourage you to do the same on the social media platforms that you use.
Most useful content – A lot of people go on social media to be entertained but there are other reasons why people look at social media platforms. One of them is finding out useful things they didn’t know about, especially if it can help them and their business in some way.
Post fun content – Now, there’s no reason to go overboard here, but it’s always nice to post fun and topical content to keep your audience engaged. Simply posting formal or fact-based content will soon be a turn-off, even though your audience is interested in this type of information…
Get personal – Your audience will love to see posts where you tell a personal story of something that happened in your business.
The best way to do this is to show behind-the-scenes footage – this works really well on platforms like Instagram and Twitter.
I also mention this in another article, where I suggested that video live streaming might be a way to show both your own personal brand and that of your business.
Be inspirational – This is one of the easier tasks on this list because all you need to do is a Google search for popular and inspirational quotes and simply copy and paste.
I personally use a piece of software called Social Jukebox which mixes these quotes up and posts them at strategic times when my audience is on social media. However, this can be done with any of the scheduling platforms I’ve mentioned previously.
Again, no need to go too overboard with the strategy, it really wants to make up just part of your posting schedule.
Automate for Your Life
As your channels become more popular, you’ll likely find that it’s really hard to keep a track of all the platforms and to manage them on different devices.
The easiest way to do this is to use social media automation tools.
I’ve written a blog post previously about the 10 Best Tools To Automate Your Social Media Marketing which you might find useful.
No matter what social media platform you are using, it’s always a good idea to measure how effective it is.
So, how do we do this?
In essence, there are two types of ways to do this:
The first one is ongoing analysis and the second is campaign focused metrics.
Ongoing analysis allows you to keep track of the types of conversations that people are having about your brand or your company and, you’ll find on most social media platforms, it’s quite easy to do this.
For example, on Twitter, all you need to do is click on your profile picture (can be found in the top right-hand side)> settings and then scroll down to where it says “analytics”.
This gives you a whole host of different information you can use to analyse this platform and how well you are performing.
Campaign focused metrics
Campaign Focus metrics allow you to see the impact of targeted marketing campaigns depending on your goals for each platform.
Apps like Hootsuite, Buffer and Zoho social have built-in analytics reports depending on which subscription you go with. The more you use these tools to analyse your social media, the better success you’ll have in the long run.