It’s nearly impossible to make money now without engaging with a social media audience and that goes double for small businesses.But still, so many small businesses are not getting the attention they deserve for lack of a simple Facebook page. It’s not that owners at small firms don’t know how important social media is; mostly,they just don’t know where to start. The bad news is that social is work. If you can afford to hire a community manager then do it. If not, you’ll need to step up to the plate. The good news is it’s never too late to kick butt in the social sphere and all it takes is practice.
Well, practice and a few fundamentals. Keep in mind that you need a smartphone with unlimited data so you can be social on the go. In addition, you need to know where your customers are. Whether you’ll be on Facebook answering questions, posting videos on YouTube or Vine, chatting on Twitter or Instagramming (or all of the above) will depend on your target demographic. Choose the wrong social platforms and your posts, pics and questions will be lost in space.
Pick the right ones – while following the five tips below – and you’ll be surrounded by fans.
1. Your content needs to stand alone
Quality counts, so proofread and edit writing and photos. When you find something related to your industry that makes you laugh, think or go “Hmmm” post it. Post nothing but sales pitches and you may as well not be posting at all. A good rule of thumb is that you should be talking about your product or service 10% of the time and using the other 90% to give your brand a distinct personality.
2. Tell a consistent story
Your brand should have a voice that extends across social channels, from your blog to Google+. That doesn’t mean you can auto post your blog to Facebook or your Facebook posts as tweets. You should have great content on all your profiles, formatted specifically for those profiles. Generally it helps to have one person managing all your social accounts to avoid an inconsistent tone.
3. Enlist your brand’s fans
When you have a truly enthusiastic fan base they will do your job for you. Repost or retweet praise or start a conversation with followers who mention your business often. Invite them to guest post on your company blog. Have a Fan of the Week contest with a sweet prize to bring in more likes and followers. Recognizing fans begets more fans.
4. Make it a conversation
You may have heard that social media is a two-way street and there’s no denying it. Don’t expect to post and go. When people respond to your content your job is to respond to them. Answer questions in a timely way. Give your fan base access to special coupons or previews of new products. In other words, let your followers know that you’re there listening and they’ll be more likely to listen to you.
5. Actually review your analytics
Though it’s tempting to leave the analytics to the techies, it’s only by looking at the hard numbers that you discover what is and isn’t working. It’s not necessary to track sales generated by your social presence right away, but it is helpful to know when Facebooking or Instragramming generated a lead. If nothing else, you need to know when people are mentioning your business, liking it, sharing it and blogging about it.There are plenty of apps out there that do just that so there’s no excuse for staying in the dark.
Image courtesy David Webb