We know that large advertising budgets are not realistic for most small businesses. An effective social media strategy helps you market your business online with relatively little additional cost. This is why social media strategy is a necessary and crucial component of advertising for small businesses.
Although social media strategy should be a very important part of a businesses online marketing—it is, unfortunately, time consuming and can involve a learning curve. The length of this overview of social media strategy may appear overwhelming at first glance. However, once you sit down with your media team (or set up your media team): it should all start to click.
If you do not have enough time or staff to develop a social media team: We can help! Whether you need someone to help you learn the ropes to manage your social media yourself, or need us to manage your social media for you—we have social media marketing plans to fit your budget.
What Are Your Goals?
Setting goals is the first, and the most important, step to building any strategy. What are you looking to gain from your social media? Some possible examples:
- Generate traffic to your company’s website.
- Promote your brand.
- Interact with your customers.
- Attract new business.
Write down your goals and then start thinking about how you are going to achieve them. Start with your company’s goals in general. From there, consider how social media can facilitate meeting those goals.
Attaining Your Social Media Goals
The first thing any business has to do with their social media page is create a following. Typically, it does take some time to build up your audience and some platforms grow faster than others. For instance, some find that their Facebook audience grows more slowly than their Twitter account.
Developing a following helps you get where you need to go. Which is: generating more exposure for your business or brand. On social media sites, your exposure is gained through your audience’s networks.
Creating a Following
Facebook and Twitter are the two most popular platforms used by individuals and businesses alike. This is not to dismiss the power of LinkedIn or other social networking sites, but for the purpose of this article we will focus on Facebook and Twitter.
If you have not already done so, invite your friends to like your business’s Facebook page. Ask your friends to let others know about your Facebook page and encourage them to invite their friends to like your page. Remember, you have to start somewhere. The more friends your page is connected to, the more people you will be able to reach indirectly.
When people “like” a post, it is displayed in the ticker and sometimes in the newsfeed. When someone shares your post, it is distributed to that person’s friends in their newsfeeds. When someone comments on your post, that also can be displayed on their friends’ newsfeeds and tickers.
Sharing works similarly on other networks. If someone sees a tweet they like on Twitter: they retweet it. If someone sees a pin they like on Pinterest: they repin or like it. These are all ways people outside of your immediate audience are exposed to your content.
You can also help others who follow certain topics find you by using hashtags, which are now available on Facebook. This helps you connect with others who are interested in what you have to offer. Hashtags are extremely popular on Twitter and and are beginning to become more common on Facebook. Hashtags are extremely easy to work into your content; you can even include in the caption or description with your image so they index in that feed.
Sharing quality content helps you build a following. A following helps you promote your business. This is why devising your content strategy is so important.
— USE YOUR NETWORK
Twitter has something called Follow Friday: #FF. Coordinate with other businesses and use the #FF when you do so:
On Facebook, tag other pages in your posts to help them get more fans. It’s great to network with other pages like yours. You expose each other to more people who are interested in the content you are sharing.
Creating Quality Social Media Content
Creating quality social media content does not need to be difficult if you know and understand your audience. You can create images relevant to your industry and include your company’s logo to increase exposure to your brand. You can share interesting links from other relevant blogs or recent news stories.
Some, but not all, of the content you share on social media networks should come from your business’s website or blog. This kills two birds with one stone: You’re sharing content that helps engage and expand your audience. At the same time, you’re helping drive traffic to your website.
You need to know your audience to create content that interests your audience. You also need to keep your goals in mind when creating your content. For example, Zen SBS is based in Ohio and many of our followers are small businesses and freelancers in Ohio. We tailor our blog and social media content to topics that audience is likely to enjoy.
Pictures are typically reshared more than other types of posts on Facebook. Image shares also tend to get more engagement on Facebook than other types of posts.
Although re-shared content certainly helps with exposure, not everyone who likes or shares your picture will immediately come and “like” your page. However, the more they see interesting and relevant content from your page, the more likely they’ll decide it’s a page worth following.
While pictures may get more engagement on Facebook, they are not always the best way to drive traffic to your website. Link shares are typically the most effective posts for driving traffic to a website. You could type a link in the caption with your picture. However, this typically does not result in as many click through as a regular link share.
A word of caution: One thing that businesses and marketers have discovered about social media is that being “overly selly” risks alienating their audience. If your business directly promotes their products and services on social media often, that may be problematic as part of your strategy. This does not mean that you should never solicit your audience or promote special offers. Just don’t let it be the foundation of your content strategy.
In terms of types of content, you need to encompass an “everything” social media strategy. Get a variety relevant of pictures (especially your own), videos, links, and news stories or blog posts shared on your page. This will engage your audience and build your presence. The rest will start to fall into place.
Starting the Week Off
Pick one day to sit down and determine what unique content you are going to develop for the week. Will it be a blog post? An image? A combination of the two? Write it down and determine the date you have to do them.
At Zen SBS, we typically determine the month’s unique content and work on it in our free time on set days to coordinate editing and research. We set goal completion dates and maintain communication on our progress throughout.
At the beginning of each day we look at news feeds for relevant information for sharing on social media. We’ll scan the news, pick which we would like to share, and create bitly links. Facebook has a built in scheduling tool that makes it very easy to schedule out future posts. You can sit down in the morning and schedule out what will be shared and when it will be shared; your content will automatically post at the designated time.
We have that found certain times in the day grant our Facebook page better visibility. When we schedule our content we make sure it will be posting those times of day that we typically have more visibility and engagement. We’ve also noticed that when we share posts too close together, we tend have less visibility and engagement (see Metrics section below for more information).
Scheduling a future post is done from your Page’s sharing tool:
- Click the clock icon in the lower-left of the sharing tool (box where you type in the post).
- Choose the future year, month, day, hour and minute when you want the post to appear.
- Click “Schedule.”
For Twitter, type a brief summary, using hashtags before keywords, and then tweet away. Most of the time, the article header provides your audience with enough information to simply use that in the summary. If you know that some of your followers would be interested in the topic you are tweeting about: tweet to them! Twitter feeds move fast and this helps ensure they see your content.
Don’t be afraid to reshare content on Twitter either. So what if you tweeted that article 2 hours ago? It dropped out of people’s feeds about 1 hour and 55 minutes ago. Twitter is fast-paced and it’s easy to miss things posted by the people you follow.
Time is a precious resource. You want to make sure you’re managing your social media time effectively because this frees up your time to create unique content and focus on other aspects of your organizing.
Developing Unique Content
Developing original website content helps increase your website’s traffic. For example, this article will be shared across our social media and email lists (perhaps that’s how you got here).
How you share this content is up to you. So when you share website content, do you create a picture and put the link in? Do you just simply share the link? Do you do both? That’s entirely up to you. It’s important, however, to measure how your posts are performing so you can make inferences on how to improve your strategy (see ‘Metrics’ below).
Engaging Your Audience
A great way to engage your audience is to ask questions of your followers. This gets a dialogue started and is an effective way to learn more from your audience. It is also very important to respond to your audience when they interact with your page.
These things take time and if you are only checking your social media once per day, you often miss things. Luckily there are “apps” for that. For example, Facebook has a Pages application for smartphones. This helps you manage your pages and get real-time updates, even when you’re away from your computer.
Of course this doesn’t mean you don’t ever unplug: that’s important too. But when you do, coordinate with your media team and break up the shifts.
You’ll notice when you engage your audience, your audience starts to grow even more. Don’t believe us? Start paying attention your insights.
What’s the point to doing all this work if you don’t have an idea of what’s going on? Facebook provides you with Insights to your page’s shares. You can see your most popular posts and get an idea of what your audience likes best. Some of the metrics available through Facebook’s Insights include:
- How many people saw each post.
- Number of clicks on a shared link.
- Post engagement (likes, shares, clicks).
- Your page’s most successful post types.
It’s a lot to take in, isn’t it? The best way to get started is to sit down and develop a social media team. Clearly define the responsibilities; even assign days of the week in which each person is to do the updates. Set a day for planning out the week or month’s updates and clearly convey when unique content is to be created.
If you do not have the time or staff available for a social media team: we can help! Contact us and ask about our social media management services.