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Most small business owners understand the opportunity presented by social media for meeting new customers or simply getting more people to know about a business, but many aren’t yet able to tap into this rich and rewarding resource.
In this article, we’ll look at four key areas where focusing a little time, effort and concentration will really help the long-term development of a small business’s social media marketing.
There’s no point a recruitment business being on Facebook if its potential customers are all on LinkedIn. A business needs to assess who its natural customers are and where they’re likely to be found. Activity should be determined by where a firm’s customers hang out online and by the networks that suit the way the firm want to promote to them.
For example, LinkedIn is great for building professional relationships and promoting through thought leadership blogs; Twitter is perfect for sharing links and short messages, and sending out offers; while Facebook can combine video, images, blogs and messaging.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that potential customers now look online as a way of assessing the veracity of an organisation – a lack of presence can feed doubts about the legitimacy of a business.
So, a business has established its social accounts, but what should it say to get people interested?
As the firm gets started, this will undoubtedly be the trickiest aspect of its social media marketing. In the early days, the business might find it needs to play around with different topics or approaches as it tries to find something that works.
The content that works best on social media is typically useful, informative or engaging. Remember, the audience isn’t really interested in your business per se, but if it can help them out in some way, they might start to engage. One great tweet is worth so much more than 20 that can be easily ignored.
A small business should keep experimenting with content topics and types until it finds an approach it’s comfortable with, that resonates with an audience, and helps it gain followers and interaction.
Making sure all its social media channels are immediately recognisable as belonging to one organisation is a simple yet necessary task for a business starting out on social media. That means having the same branding, colours and pictures across all accounts. It also means carrying relevant information about the business on each. This consistent look and feel tells people you’re professional and a ‘real’ business.
Consistency also means posting content regularly – that means at least weekly, possibly more often – and ensuring that all updates being promoted across various channels present a unified and simple message.
A café business, for instance, shouldn’t update Twitter saying ‘it’s all about pizza this week’ then say on Facebook ‘we’re really into our new coffee machine this week’. It should pick a theme, prepare words and pictures, and re-use them across all its networks for a clear and simple message.
Re-using content across various social platforms will provide the business with the consistency it needs and cut down on the time and effort it takes to create and execute social promotion.
Ultimately, social media should work like other marketing channels. So, a business should set goals – such as gaining a certain number of likes, follows, mentions or retweets.
Alternatively, it could look for a certain number of referrals back to its website, newsletter and demo sign-ups, or look at other ways of creating warm leads.
A business needs to set targets, then assess how it has done against those goals. As we’ve said, it’s important to pay attention to the type of content that works, number of likes, and so on. Tracking this can seem daunting, especially if you are just starting out with social media. However, a smart dashboard such as 9 Spokes allows small business owners to connect their social media apps and easily understand how those channels perform, which tactics work and which ones don’t. With the right information, it’s so much easier to improve social media performance and get new customers! And best of all, the user-friendly 9 Spokes dashboard is completely free.
The final point to make is that any social media activity should align with a business’s other digital and offline marketing campaigns to ensure each is as effective as it can possibly be.
Best of luck!
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National Federation of Self Employed & Small Businesses LimitedSir Frank Whittle Way / Blackpool / FY4 2FE. National Federation of Self Employed & Small Businesses Limited (FSB) is registered in England, number 1263540