The days of social media as an optional marketing practice are over. It’s time for us all to recognize social media has become a vital component of any inbound marketing strategy.
But it’s not as simple as it might seem. Using social media as an effective marketing tool takes more than creating a few accounts and posting content. Creating valuable content is one thing. Ranking well on search engine results pages (SERPs), sharing your content with the right audience and getting that audience who is interested in your brand, product, or service back to your site…those are entirely separate beasts.
If you own a small business and manage your own social media or are new to the world of social media, we’re here to help you navigate the daunting task of tackling this vital marketing channel.
Check out our easy step-by-step guide for creating an effective social media strategy for your business:
Step 1: Define your goals.
Before embarking on any new business strategy or operation, it’s important to ask yourself some preliminary questions. Your answers to these questions will determine the direction that your strategy will take.
- What goals are you trying to achieve by engaging in social media?
- Will social media help you achieve these goals?
- Can you allocate time and budget?
- Do you need to hire or outsource a social media manager?
- Do you have clear key messages and branding to disseminate to your audience?
Step 2: Do your research.
Now that you know what you’d like your social media marketing strategy to do for you, it’s time to explore how it can do these things. Knowing your audience is critical when it comes to finding success with social media engagement because the interests and needs of your audience will determine the type of content you should be sharing and the way you engage your followers. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Who is your target audience?
- What does your audience want?
- What topics/subjects is your audience interested in?
- What platform(s) is your audience using?
- Why should your audience choose your brand over your competitors?
Step 3: Choose the right platforms.
Before you jump in, it’s important to note many businesses flop when it comes to achieving social media success. The biggest mistake many companies make is to create accounts on every platform and not understand why they are using that platform or how it works. We’ve outlined the basics of the five most popular social media platforms for businesses:
- Facebook: As the largest and oldest platform, Facebook currently caters to over 2 billion active monthly users. This platform is ideal for businesses that want to generate leads, build brand awareness, and build relationships.
- LinkedIn: This platform is predominantly used for business networking and can be used by both B2B and B2C businesses to build trust and authority.
- Instagram: Perhaps one of the most versatile platforms, Instagram currently supports 1 billion users and offers various posting formats, from permanent pictures to short-lived videos. With these options, you have the flexibility to curate your content to focus on your specific goals and your audience’s wants.
- Pinterest: Depending on your business, Pinterest can be one of the top social media platforms for small businesses. Boasting 291 million active users, this platform is most popular amongst millennials and women. Since Pinterest encourages content that is visually appealing, home decor, cooking recipes, photography ventures, and travel are all examples of businesses that can thrive on Pinterest.
- YouTube: As the only video-only platform, YouTube is ahead of its competition for sharing information via video. Boasting 2 billion monthly users, YouTube has become a space where people go not only for entertainment but to learn new things. This is an effective platform for connecting with your users through video tutorials or visual descriptions.
Step 4: Build a calendar and consider automation tools.
Planning your social media activities in advance will allow you to post consistently—and get the best results. As a small business owner, your time is probably limited. It may be beneficial for you to consider using an automation platform like ContentStudio or SEMrush or hiring an outside expert to ensure you are posting consistent, high-quality content.
Step 5: Engage with your audience.
Social media is an opportunity for you to meaningfully connect with the people who support your business. This is a powerful customer service tool that allows you to show appreciation, respond to comments, answer questions, and solve problems. Showing recognition through reposts, likes, and follows is an excellent way to foster positive relationships. In fact, 48% of consumers say that when a company is responsive on social media, it encourages them to make a purchase.
Step 6: Maintain a constant presence.
Now that you have your social media profiles set up on the right platforms, you must ensure those accounts are active. Every time you post new content, you remind your followers that your brand exists, and you prove to them that you are valuable enough to keep following.
Step 7: Monitor your progress.
Tracking your progress is one of the most important steps in executing your social media strategy. Based on your performance, you can make informed decisions about the direction of your future campaigns. Assessing your social media metrics by tracking visits, mentions, followers, retweets, shares, engagement rates and engagement types, will be exceedingly important for determining how effective your social media strategy has been.
Now that you have a better understanding of the process, it’s time to execute your social media strategy!
If your business requires the help of external experts, contact us for more information on how we can get your social media strategy to work for you.