Social media has become less of a buzzword, and more of an accepted part of standard marketing strategies. Used right, it can be a powerful customer engagement tool for any business to build their reputation, launch products, provide customer service and establish an online presence.
This is all well and good for larger companies who have the budget – and the time – to have a full time staff member responsible for handling the social media platforms. They schedule posts, monitor chatter, pick up on trends and connect with customers and other industry players. They can plan what, when and how they communicate.
But for small business, this powerful tool can seem out of reach. The time management required for posting and active engagement can be a struggle amongst team members already multitasking in their roles. So how can small business use social media without it taking away from their day-to-day tasks?
1. Recognise it IS a daily task
First up, regular engagement is essential to build a solid following on any social media platform. Instead of thinking of it as an add-on to marketing strategies, small business should realise that it is one of the best – and cheapest – marketing channels they have.
2. Provide value with your posts
Just as we discussed with blogs, your posts need to be informative, engaging or interesting. Getting a retweet is harder than you may think – the content in 140 characters needs to be eye-catching and useful to the user. Visuals, such as infographics, are a great way to deliver shorthand value – and their shareable nature increases their viral possibility.
3. Keep the same voice
Just as brand guidelines apply to your advertising and face-to-face communications, the tone should be similar for social media. By all means, adapt to a more social voice to reflect the engagement element of the platforms. But remember that every message should in some way reflect your brand, vision and ethos so establish a strong online voice. Try to have the same one or two people responsible for posting on social media sites, to encourage editorial regularity for both the brand and your audience.
4. Use the platforms you need
Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Quora, Instagram, SnapChat… the list goes on. Some of these will be of benefit to your business – and some will not. If your audience are young adults, for example, Instagram may be one of the best platforms to distribute visual posts and build your online reputation. But if you want to target parents, Facebook is probably a better bet. Don’t waste your time and effort on unnecessary platforms – choose a select few and stick to them.
5. Be prepared to pay
Paid advertising on social media is cheap, quick and provides immediate results when done well. You will be able to target very specific audiences over a set time period, and keep to a limited budget where required. Several campaigns can run alongside each other, too, so you can tailor advertisements for very specific audiences without neglecting others.
The clue to social media is in the name: it is not a broadcast tool. Customers and potential clients want to engage with your business on a social level. This means regular contact, and regular interaction. Investing some time and money into your social media strategy is a big step towards reducing your overall marketing costs, as your target audience are right at your fingertips. No more ‘spray and pray’ marketing techniques: you can talk directly with potential sales leads, tailoring your marketing at exactly who you need to see your adverts.
However, keeping a regular eye on social media channels can be tricky, no matter how much you try to make it a part of your daily routine. It also needs to tie into your blogs, direct marketing, and other messaging strategies to make the most of the opportunities it can provide. If you don’t have the time or manpower to make it work, we do.