Social media can be a powerful tool in your marketing strategy, but it’s only effective if you know how to use it in a focused way that connects with your target audience. It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you are a small business owner and unsure how to get started using social media to market your business. Going in with a plan and adjusting your plan as you start to see results will help you reach your goals. Try to wing it and you’ll find yourself spinning your wheels or veering off course. To keep your social media marketing efforts on track, it’s helpful to think about what not to do and how to do it better.
Effective social media marketing starts with a strategy and a plan. Your social media marketing strategy lays the foundation and provides the roadmap for everything you are trying to accomplish through social media. This includes knowing your marketing goals and how social media can help you reach them, knowing your target audience and which social channels they engage in, and what types of content will draw your target audience in and result in sales conversions. This subject is covered very well in Sprout Social’s article here.
Focusing on our social media marketing plan, here’s what to keep in mind. Posting inconsistently or sporadically leads to a loss of momentum and a loss of interest from your followers. However, when you post consistently your followers start to recognize you and your brand. This builds credibility and dependability and positions you as a thought leader in your industry. It also allows you to form relationships with your followers as you earn their trust and respect.
So, what are the foundations of a social media marketing plan? You’ll need to decide the following:
When you start developing your social media marketing plan it’s easy to fall into the trap of making the majority of your posts about you and your business. After all, you’re trying to build a business so shouldn’t you be posting about your business? The answer is NO. Your goal is to build relationships. People want to do business with people they know, like and trust. Social media marketing is part of a long-term strategy for your business. Build a strong foundation and the business will come in time.
A good rule of thumb to follow when posting on social media is The Golden Ratio, developed by Rallyverse. Your content should be a mix of the following:
The opposite extreme of only promoting yourself is only sharing content created by others that you follow. Original content is crucial to building your brand and your credibility online. You have a unique contribution to make in your industry. If you’re only sharing other people’s content your audience doesn’t get to know you. Share your story - your experience, expertise, and perspective. Give your audience the opportunity to get to know you on a personal level and how your specific product or service can meet their needs.
If you’re only posting plain text on your social accounts you’re missing a huge opportunity to capture your audience’s attention. Content with appealing relevant images gets viewed more often than content without relevant visuals. (Source) So be sure you are including eye-catching visual images and videos as part of your content strategy.
Be the best version of yourself on social media. Represent your brand and stand out. But, don’t try to write for everyone. When you generalize your content to appeal to everyone you end up not connecting with anyone. Know and write for your target audience. That will make it easier for them to find you and the services you offer that will solve their specific problems.
Nothing says desperation more than “I just followed/liked you, can you follow me back?” The way to get people to follow you is to provide good original content and timely, relevant shared content that your audience can relate to and that solves their problems.
Is your content engaging? Does it provoke a reaction? And when your followers comment are you responding to them? This is one of the keys to forming a relationship with your audience. They have to know that there is a real human being behind the brand and that you are truly engaged in your business enough to have a conversation with them.
A note about bad reviews... Don't ignore them. When you open up avenues of communication with your followers online, they may use them to post their dissatisfaction with your product or service. The best thing you can do is respond and offer solutions to their needs. As socialmouthy.com advised in their article, How to Build Instant Trust on Your Website, "If you delete or ignore anything negative said about your company, you are wasting a great opportunity to make somebody happy and let others see how committed you are to that happiness."
Hashtags have revolutionized the way we find and share information on social media. However, there is such a thing as overusing them and exploiting them. Use relevant, focused hashtags and your audience will find you. If you use too many hashtags it appears spammy. Use the wrong hashtags and the spammers will find you. It’s a delicate balance.
Your social media marketing strategy can help expose you to your target audience in exciting new ways. The keys are to start with a solid foundation, develop your plan and then commit to carrying it out. There are many visual content creation apps and social media management tools online to help you carry out your mission. It will take time to build your audience so be patient. Social media marketing is part of a complete inbound marketing plan, so keep that in mind as you’re analyzing your results.
What challenges do you face in your social media marketing efforts? Comment below. We’d love to hear your thoughts.
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