Everything is moving online these days: shops, business, writing works and marketing are not exceptions. And that is a good thing. It costs a lot of money to launch an offline marketing campaign, which puts small businesses at a disadvantage.
On the other hand, signing up for social media platforms costs no money at all. Not to mention that deciding to ignore social media can seriously damage one’s business relationships and make it difficult to attract new customers. Nowadays, deciding to ignore the power of the Internet is akin to being dead. Keeping a watchful eye on one’s competition, building a brand and a community of loyal customers, providing a new channel of customer service all of that is left out by small businesses which fail to establish their online presence.
According to research, 70 percent of customers favor brand recommendations from friends, while only 10 percent still cling to advertising. Knowing this, it becomes clear just how important social media sharing is.
But the fact that signing up for social media platforms is free, does not mean that it requires no efforts. Some planning should be involved and here are the first steps that should be taken.
1. Know Thyself
In the world of business, this ancient Greek aphorism comes down to identifying objectives and target audience. Why are they important? Engaging in social media marketing without setting goals is akin to driving without knowing a direction. Whether one’ s goal is to sell a new product, increase brand awareness or build a community of loyal costumers, makes a huge difference when it comes to launching a social media campaign.
In the similar vein, it is equally important to know one’ s target audience. Are they young or older people? Gender? Location? Interests? It is useful to check a breakdown of social media demographics for each major platform, which can be found here. Another good way for pulling this useful information is to sign up for a free trial of Sprout Social. Of course, conducting an online survey and asking these questions can also be of tremendous help.
2. Choose the Best Social Network
Although it is understandable how one can be tempted to sign up for as many social media platforms as possible in an attempt to expand online presence, that is not always a clever strategy. Not every social media network is appropriate for each type of business or target audience. For example, Facebook is popular with every age group and gender, regardless of location, so it is difficult to go wrong with this platform, especially for businesses trying to target multiple age groups/ locations/ professions.
Twitter is the most popular platform with millennials and can be used for short updates and social media campaigns with hashtags. Instagram is also popular with a younger population and it is the leader when it comes to visual content. LinkedIn has been long known as the most popular recruitment tool with 85 percent of all recruiters going to this platform before any other, and it also allows businesses to share their ideas by posting LinkedIn articles. Being linked Google, Google+ is the best stop for businesses trying to increase their search engine rankings and drive customers to their pages.
To make this search for the best social network more targeted, it is useful to check where one’s customers are going, either by using keywords to track products or by spying on the competition.
Once the best social network has been chosen, what remains is to sign up. While this is fairly simple, it is recommended to check the rules for businesses for each social media platform because they usually differ from those for individual users.
3. Finding a Social Media Manager
Contrary to what one may think, this does not necessarily mean hiring a person. Of course, having a team of social media managers responsible for writing content, creating promotional videos, managing accounts and running social media campaigns is something that businesses strive for. The problem is that, especially at the beginning stages, this is something that only a few of them can afford, even if they opt for hiring freelancers from some freelancing site such as UpWork or Freelancer.
That is why the next best option is trying with some social media management tools. HootSuite is the most popular and it is closely followed by Buffer and IFTTT. Most of them are centralized, allowing their user to manage all social media accounts on one site. What these tools bring to the table is the ability to schedule updates and track all the mentions of one’ s business on the Internet.
4. Adding Content
Having signed up for a social media platform still does not mean that one is ready for building the army of followers. It does not work like that in the real world. For followers to start flocking to one’ s business page, it is necessary to give them a reason to do that, and the best reason is content. That includes: posting information relevant to one’s industry with frequent updates and adding some visual content such as photographs or promotional videos. To be more efficient, one can consider hiring a team of freelancers, but that depends on estimated costs and benefits. The most important, especially in the early stages, is to be active and post frequently while keeping a close eye on trending topics.
5. Connecting With People
Social networks are not called “networks“ for nothing. They are all about networking, both when it comes to finding friends and followers and making business connections. Searching keywords, paying for an ad on Facebook, sharing content through LinkedIn and Twitter posts, being active in online communities. These are all the ways for making valuable connections. Of course, every opportunity to link to one’s site or social media page, be it through guest blogging or some other channel, should be jumped at.
The most important thing to have in mind is that one can not afford to be passive when it comes to social media. Are your customers happy with your products/customer service? Encourage them to share their experience on social media. It never happened if it was not on social media. Every post, every positive mention, should be regarded as an opportunity to promote a business.
They say that traditional marketing is dead: “As consumers bypass media with greater ease, the social feed is the wormhole to the entire online experience.” What does it mean? It simply means that the way of doing business has changed. Before, with traditional marketing methods, we had one set of rules. This set of rules has now changed.
What is a must is to keep monitoring and measuring everything that happens throughout social media platforms, because that is the place where consumers are going now. Social media and its potential for building (or destroying one’s business) are here to stay. One has a choice: either to adapt and make the best of it by keeping in touch with the latest trends or lose the race with competition and go down.
Kerrie is a freelance blogger who navigates through the labyrinth of the Internet and hunts for the nuggets of knowledge to bring to her readers. Using her procrastination time to enlighten Internet surfers.Subscribe to Millspouse: This Week