As an entrepreneur, you know all about the power of social media: It can help you build your brand, promote your business, and connect with customers. But before you write your next post or tweet, consider whether your current strategies are making efficient use of your time and resonating with your market.
Your venture needs a social media plan as much as it needs a business plan. Any successful social media campaign begins with a goal in mind and an awareness of which platforms are engaging your target audience. Your approach doesn’t have to be complicated. Putting the right messages in the right places should reach the right people.
“It always starts with [answering the questions]: What are you trying to achieve? And what are your business goals and objectives?” says Kevin Bobowski, vice president of marketing at Offerpop, which provides digital tools for launching and analyzing social media campaigns. “The other thing is: Who are you trying to reach? Is it existing customers, is it prospects, or is it people you’ve never heard of?”
Answering these questions is a relatively simple undertaking for most small-business owners, because they are so involved in every aspect of the company, he says. Once you have determined your target audience and objectives, you’ll find it easier to design a social media campaign that will yield the desired results.
Exploring Different Channels
Bobowski advises against following the path of least resistance. Don’t be one of those small-business owners who merely posts content to Facebook and forgets about it.
“It’s simple. It’s what they heard had worked. And they know everyone is on Facebook, and it is something they can execute it in a matter of minutes,” he says. “But Facebook has indicated that the organic reach of these simple posts is getting smaller and smaller, so you are hitting a smaller percentage of your fans. Small-business owners need to be thinking about different ways to reach their audiences.”
Which other channels are the best? It depends on your industry and niche.
“If you’re a small-business owner and you have a small-business website selling stationery, as an example, Pinterest [is] a really great market and an avenue to socially network. This is where diversifying away from Facebook becomes really important,” Bobowski says.
“If you have an active and engaged audience base that raves about your products, as a small-business owner that seems to suggest a promotion or contest that might be centered around user-generated content,” he adds. Have consumers participate in the conversations by sharing photos of themselves using your products, Bobowski suggests.
And which are the best channels for sharing that kind of content? ”Each network has its own strengths and appeals to different audiences and demographics,” Bobowski says. “Pinterest is great for visual displays and discovering new content. Instagram is probably best for photo and video contests.”
Expanding Your Content
Bobowski recommends venturing into video if it works with your product or service because the medium continues to grow in popularity.
“But if the goal is to drive more traffic to a store or a website, contests and promotions have consistently been a great performer for our small businesses,” Bobowski says.
He cautions against thinking of each social network as a standalone entity and says the best strategy is to share your content across multiple sites.
“Marketers mistakenly view social media as the entree. Instead, think of social media as a secret ingredient that makes the entire meal even better,” Bobowski says. ”When used properly social media helps to extend the reach of other advertising programs, it drives engagement with customers and non-customers, and the data collected through social media can be used in marketing programs that deliver real business results and ROI.”