It surprises me how many small businesses don’t have a social media strategy at all. Obviously which channels your business should be choosing will depend on the type of business, who your customers are and the purpose of your social media marketing.
You Made Sure Your Domain was Available – Did You Think About Social Media?
My first suggestion for any new business that comes to me with a name is: Did you check that the .com web address is available (if you are a Canadian business getting both .com and .ca is best) and did you consider what your social media handles were going to be across all the channels? You want all your handles to be the same, it makes it easier for customers to find you and more importantly it gives you a consistent brand. Reserving just www.mybusiness.com is not enough. You want Facebook.com/mybusiness, a Twitter handle of @mybusiness and so on.
What Social Media Channels Should Your Small Business Consider?
Let’s start by outlining today’s most popular social media channels used by businesses in Online Marketing strategies.
Almost every business out there should have a Facebook page. It is one of the hardest social media channels to master, but for customer engagement, and getting information to them it is an absolute must.
If you are promoting something, you should be on Twitter. Twitter is a great way to build networks for your business, find like-minded businesses that will cross promote with their followers, and to provide your customers with quick up to the minute information.
Don’t discredit this media channel because no one you know is using it … yet! The important factor here is that it is a GOOGLE channel and you want Google on your business’ good side. Their search engines send you the most traffic so using Google+ is definitely a strategy you want for your business.
LinkedIn is a great social media channel for networking. Not all businesses will benefit from it equally, but if you have a personal LinkedIn account, then adding your business to it is a no brainer. Selling a service? Use LinkedIn posts and your own site’s posts to showcase your knowledge and build trust with your connections. All business owners should be out there networking and LinkedIn is a great place to do this.
Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube
If your business is a visual one that uses a lot of photography, then these channels will be an absolute must. Youtube is not just a social media channel but a search engine in itself. Pinterest is great at driving traffic back to your website and some businesses will have to find creative solutions to incorporating it into their strategy. Instagram while it does not provide a direct link back to your website is a great social media tool to reach out to your audience and promote engagement through creative photography.
How to Choose the Right Social Media Channels for your Business
When I meet a new business client looking for a social media strategy they almost all think that means signing up for every social media channel that is available. I think this is a good practice to reserve your name but, you many not always use them all in your overall social media strategies.
You Don’t Have to Use All the Social Media Channels
This is especially important for new businesses or ones that don’t have a dedicated social media manager. You don’t want to wear your resources too thin, by trying to keep up with all the social media channels. Focus on the ones that will really benefit your business. Put your best foot forward on 1-2 channels like Facebook and Twitter rather than just dumping content on all the channels mentioned above.
Which Channels are your Customers Using? Which Channels are your Competition Using?
This may seem obvious, but most small businesses don’t even bother to check? Your competition may be on every social media channel there is, but which ones are people actually engaged in? Are your customers Twitter users? Do they engage in Twitter chats and contests? They are all probably on Facebook are you? Take a look at what other businesses like yours are doing, where are their followers, where are their followers engaging and commenting with them? Then design a social media strategy that will actually reach them.
Do you know the Purpose of that Social Media Channel? Which Makes Sense for your Business?
You have to determine if the social media channel makes sense from a business perspective. If your business is not going to benefit from pretty pictures or info-graphics then Pinterest is probably not your best approach. If you spend time understanding what each channel does and how it can benefit your business then you can expect positive results. Know your customer’s online habits and know what’s best for your business and you will see a great return on your social media investment.
Don’t Try To Do It All At Once – Ease into your Social Media Strategy
Once you’ve done your homework and figured out which social media channels to implement into your marketing strategy it is important to prepare a plan of action. A social media plan must be followed and should include:
- Building Your Following
- Creating a Posting Schedule
- Follow up / Analytics Review
If you stick with your social media plan it will help you build your followers, give them a consistent voice and opportunity for engagement allowing you to build customer trust and see some return on your social marketing investments.