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10 Ways to Make Your Small Business Social Media Activities Rock

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10 Ways to Make Your Small Business Social Media Activities Rock

By Caron_Beesley, Contributor
Published: July 15, 2013 Updated: July 15, 2013

Social media may have the lowest cost of entry of any marketing tool, but is not actually that easy to do well. In fact, a report by eMarketer found that small businesses are struggling to adopt social media, with only 24 percent of small firms having integrated social media in a structured way into their operations.

Knowing where to start is perhaps the number one obstacle holding many small business owners back. Knowing what to do when you get there is next.

So, whether you are new to social media or looking to go beyond using it in an ad hoc or informal way, here are 10 ways to make your small business social media activities rock.

  1. Pick the Site(s) that Works for You

Social media sites are emerging on an almost weekly basis, and it’s easy to become distracted or lost in the speed of change. So where should you focus your efforts?

Speaking at last year’s National Small Business Week social media panel, Erica Ayotte, social media manager with Constant Contact, recommends businesses start with one channel to test and nurture it. Then try to diversify: “Spend a little time each week exploring new platforms and figure out if they might be for you.” Speaking at the same event, GrowBizMedia’s Rieva Lesonsky recommends that you “find out where your customers can be found, go there first, and then spread out from there… if you run a restaurant, yes, you probably should be on Twitter, but you should really be on Yelp first.”

  1. Share Interesting and Visual Content

This is one area that really does take time. What’s interesting anyway?

Well, let’s start with the basics. If you have any news to share, and by news I mean “newsworthy” (i.e. something that impacts your customers directly) then go ahead and share it – things like holiday opening times, new offices, menu updates, charity events, etc.

Then add another tier – share quality content. Something you do well that will help you stand out in a crowd – blogs, white papers, tips, or quick “how to” videos (host them on YouTube or Hulu).  Then use social media to amplify it. Feel free to share content from others (without breaking copyright) if it is relevant to your fans. Don’t be afraid to ask people what content they want you to share!

Another tier of content should focus on telling the big picture story of your business – showcase employees, community activities, or how customers are using your product or service. This is a great opportunity to be visual and stand-out in busy newsfeeds.

Remember, give it time. It takes time to figure out what works. For example, you might think about using polls and surveys to engage with followers, but if you are still growing your network, you might not get the right results – yet. So, keep trying new things until you find a sweet spot. And don’t forget, just because people may not be interacting with you yet, that doesn’t mean they aren’t listening, so keep the faith!

For more tips read:

  1. Listen

Great content drives engagement and grows social communities, but equally important is the art of listening. Think of social media as a form of conversation – it’s a two-way dialog. If you’re not prepared to listen to what is being said to you, about you, or with you, then you simply aren’t “being social.” In addition to listening to your consumers, carve out time to listen to influencers in your business, to your competitors, and to those who can help you perfect your social media strategy (Hubspot, Mari Smith, and Social Media Today, to name just a few).

  1. Have an Authentic Voice

Again, “be social!” Drop the corporate marketing speak; people like dealing with people. So don’t be afraid to loosen up a little and when responding to problems or complaints; sign off with your first name.

  1. Foster Fan-to-Fan Engagement

Some of the strongest social networking communities are based on supportive relationships and information sharing between fans. If you are posting interesting content, this will follow naturally as fans start to engage with others based on common interests. There are a few things you can do to encourage these relationships, many of them mentioned in this blog - listen to fans, chime in when you think you can add something, respond to comments, open the doors to shared experiences/needs, encourage fans to share photos and experiences and always communicate authentically (drop the corporate hat).

  1. Don’t Overly Automate

While there are some great free tools that can help you automate your posts, don’t overly rely on these to get you through the day – it will show. Instead, set aside some time, 2-3 slots a day to post (note that the evening is a high volume time to post and get noticed), monitor and respond to fans.

  1. Commit to Social Media

If you are truly going to succeed at social media, then you need to take it seriously and commit to it. For many small businesses, this means adopting a new paradigm. Don’t treat social media as an aside to be taken advantage of when you want to get the word out about your latest offer. Commit to a content strategy. Ensure all levels of the organization are on-board and are involved in your social media strategy. Don’t just assign daily responsibility for it to an office junior – this is the face of your business, after all, and it involves dialog with your customers (is a junior up to that?).

  1. Treat Social Media as an Arm of Your Customer Service Operations

Social media is also an essential part of your customer service strategy. If you are on Facebook or Twitter, then you need to be prepared to monitor and respond to questions and complaints. These blogs offer more advice on this topic:

  1. Don’t Forget Your Other Marketing Channels

Social media may be free, but it only works as part of a wider, integrated marketing strategy. It should never replace your website (which is the hub of all your marketing activity and the home of your online content). Email is also still important. You have a captive audience there; your message is delivered to their inboxes and allows for a deeper conversation.

  1. Measure

Don’t forget to measure the impact of your social media efforts. Use third party apps or Facebook’s Insights tool to monitor click-through rates. Compare these across posts to see if there’s a trend as to the type of content that’s popular. Measure engagement by tracking how many likes and shares your posts get (measured by Facebook as “reach”). Use this data to inform and adjust your content strategy.

Additional Articles

Here’s a selection of SBA blogs that can also help with key areas of your social media strategy:

About the Author:

Caron Beesley

Contributor

Caron Beesley is a small business owner, a writer, and marketing communications consultant. Caron works with the SBA.gov team to promote essential government resources that help entrepreneurs and small business owners start-up, grow and succeed. Follow Caron on Twitter: @caronbeesley

Comments:

Social Media is really fast and effective way to broadcast brand and product. I'm a sales marketing manager and i usually use social media for my business. Your post is so helpful to me!
Lots of people think about social media is a freebies to promote their business on it. You can just build your business online reputation here. If you want to promote your business on social media then you need to spend some amount on it. Like Facebook & twitter Advertising. Its necessary in 2014.
Very effective post on actual role of social media, which is only merging generation gap, but at the same time helping every businesses to grow more through its supportive hand, but before grabbing this opportunity one needs to think as how to dwell or churn out more usage from social media activities.
You have pointed really some good points here. this information is more informative and useful for small business owners.
...listening to your consumers, carve out time to listen to influencers in your business, to your competitors, and to those who can help you perfect your social media strategy.I agree with that.Listening is very important.
Thank you for this article! Very informative. As a personal injury lawyer here in Colorado Springs, Colorado, it was hard to originally accept this huge online movement and get into social media.
We have found that many potential customers first check us out on our Facebook page before they go to our website. Because of this, we have to be very careful not to post frivolous or otherwise non-topical information on our page but rather only things which present our company as experts (or at least very knowledgeable) in the environmental equipment industry.
Great information on social media planning. Thank you!
Some good resources for integrating social media into your business are Onlywire, Hootsuite, Aweber, and Social Adr. Companies like these offer software tools that will post to multiple social media accounts with backlinks to your main site to help drive search engine ranking.
Social media marketing is an important part in business strategies. I think it's not easy to apply the tip 4 and 9.

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