Small businesses that choose not to maintain an active social media presence are missing out on opportunities to engage with existing customers and cultivate new ones. Research from the Pew Internet Project shows that as of January, 2014, nearly two-thirds of adults in the U.S. access and participate in online social networking. Keep reading to discover five ways to make sure your social media marketing plan is successful.
First, you need to evaluate your position in the social media landscape. Does your business have a presence on the major social networking platforms including Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter? Depending on the kind of business you have, you may also want to establish accounts on Pinterest, FourSquare, and Instagram.
Next, establish what you want to accomplish through social media. If you want to use social media marketing tactics to drive sales, let that inform the kind of content you create and share. You may give exclusive discounts or deals to your followers on Twitter or fans on Facebook. You may also create social content that drives people to your e-commerce site.
Third, determine how many likes, new followers, and positive comments about your business you want to reach each month. Keep your goals on the conservative side in the beginning as you navigate the best approach to social media marketing for your company. Finally, make sure you measure the fruits of your efforts by running monthly reports on visitors to your website. Google Analytics is a widely used tool to gain insights on visitors and their interactions with your site.
Know Your Audience
What are the demographics of your target audience? Are there a couple of subgroups within your target audience who are the most likely to use social media? By answering these questions, you can create marketing content that speaks in relevant ways to your audience through social media channels.
If you don’t already capture information about how customers use social media, begin to ask for this data, and you’ll have a better idea of which platforms your target audience prefers. Don’t limit yourself to the traditional social sites. You may find your niche business gets a lot of attention on forum sites or blogs that review products. Put your content where your clients and potential clients spend their time.
Make it Easy
Use sites such as HootSuite to schedule the dissemination of marketing content across multiple social platforms. Best of all, you can plan tweets and posts into the future, making it easy to maintain a consistent social media presence.
Monitor the Chatter
Hashtag are an effective way to generate conversation and to monitor what others say about your company. Tweetdeck is a service that makes it easy to follow what people say about your company. One of the worst things your social media can do is simply push information. If they don’t listen to what people are saying, your company risks becoming a case study in how to fail at social media.
When your team observes negative comments about your company on social media, they should have a pre-approved response that’s positive and offers to address the concerns by phone. Social media is not the place to engage in a “discussion” with a complainer, but it’s a tool to connect people with customer service representatives outside social media.
Train Your Team
Your social media team is on the front line of interacting with customers and shaping public opinion about your company. They are brand ambassadors, so ensure they understand your brand pillars, key messages, and any other guidelines that dictate how they need to communicate with the public.
Social media marketing is a dynamic field, so you need to provide your team with opportunities to attend conference and do webinars so they stay current on best practices. Consider letting the team leader complete an online MBA degree to ensure this key person has a firm grasp of how the business intersects with social media marketing.
With goal setting, a clearly identified target audience, the help of social tools, plans to monitor the conversation, and training for staff, you’re setting your company up to succeed in the ever-changing world of social media marketing.