Social Media for Businesses

bigstock-Social-media-marketing-concept-30797855How to Avoid Being Overwhelmed and Launch a Successful Campaign

As a small business owner, you’ve probably heard at least a hundred times about how important social media is for your business and that you should be using it to grow your company. But if you’re like many small business owners, you may not be taking advantage of this valuable resource because of a lack of time or a general paralysis due to not knowing how to use social media effectively. And most articles on the topic of small business social media can be overwhelming in and of themselves, because they fail to map out a simple, and easily understood game plan for those that don’t have a comfort level with all of the various social media platforms. It all just sounds too complicated – so perhaps you’ve simply ignored it.

But when viewed through a more general “marketing” lens, social media looks far less intimidating than at first glance. And by putting together a basic plan with attainable goals, you can not only conquer this sales and marketing channel, but also use it to your company’s advantage in growing your business.

The First Step is to Plan

Many businesses make the mistake of “jumping right in” with regard to social media. They create their social media accounts, start creating posts and connecting with other business. And then something happens – they get overwhelmed, which in many cases eventually leads to abandonment of the channel in full. Contrary to this more popular path of action, companies that successfully launch and run social media campaigns for the long haul usually put together a solid “plan of attack”. Take these first steps to determine who you’re trying to target and what medium is most appropriate:

  • Who are my target prospects? The main key in determining your target prospects is to be as specific as possible. For example, if you’re a company that targets toy manufacturers and distributors, it’s not sufficient to simply target toy manufacturers in general. Drill in further by noting the types of toys manufacturers specifically that you’d like to target and, if possible, some examples of companies in that particular niche. This will help you not only find the best ways to reach these people and companies, but it will also guide you in creating content for them and engaging with them.
  • What types of information is important to your target prospects? Now that you have a working list of the companies that you’re interested in doing business with, spend some time thinking about the types of information that is important to these prospects. Specifically, think about things from the context of what value you can provide them. For example, if your business is a warehouse software company, your prospects might be interested in trends within the warehouse industry in general, new products and techniques that will make their day to day operations easier, etc. The main key is to put yourself in your prospects shoes. What information would you want? And don’t be afraid to add some creativity into the mix – this will help you stand out from the crowd.
  • Determine your goal of social media? Before you start doing any posting, it’s extremely important to determine your goals. And make sure that your goals are conservative. For example, your goal may be to add 100 contacts that are relevant to your business. Or you might have a goals to share an article per week. Never has the age old adage “quality over quantity” been more true than in social media. So keep in mind that more followers or more article sharing is better – getting in front of the right people and making meaningful contributions to their lives is what counts. One important point of note: schedule any action oriented goals, such as sharing an article or searching for brand mentions or engaging in conversions. By setting a specific time to these tasks, you’ll be more likely to stay on track.
  • What social media platforms do your customers and prospects use and which of these is the most appropriate medium for speaking to them? Once you have a good idea of the types of prospects you’d like to target and the information that they would find useful, the next step is to determine which social media channels you should pursue. In a perfect world, you’d be able to invest some time in most channels, as there is value that each of the unique channels brings to the table. However, since you don’t have unlimited time and resources, and to keep things simple and streamlined, choose the channels that you think would bring you the greatest results, and then get your feet wet with it. To assist you with this decision, check out this article on “which demographics use social media” Furthermore, the following articles provides some good resources for figuring out which social media platform to use for your business Keep in mind that your prospects might be in places other than the main social media channels, so keep an open mind to other places that might be beneficial to explore.

It’s Time to Take Some Action

Now that you have a plan in place, it’s time to go out and get your feet wet. First, create your relevant profiles. For some social media channels, this may be both an employee as well as a company profile. Second, create your official social media schedule. Many companies have found it helpful to create a detailed schedule of all social media tasks with associated project owners for each task. Furthermore, it might be helpful to have a planning session each month to generate ideas about where to find your prospects, what types of content to produce for them, and other challenges that pertain to the monthly tasks ahead. Below is a couple of examples of the monthly tasks that you might implement:

  1. Have a monthly brainstorm session
  2. Search for potential prospects to connect with on the social media channel(s) of choice
  3. Create content to be pushed through the social media channel(s)
  4. Share your content on the social media channel(s)
  5. Engage in meaningful conversations by searching for relevant discussion/groups/etc. and providing insights and feedback

One thing to consider with regard to content – quality content can take many forms. It can be an article, infographic, webinar, video, or many other types of content that you can come up with. Again, focus on high quality content that is valuable and relevant to your target audience, and they’ll be far more likely to read it, share it, and act upon it.

Last But Not Least – Monitor Your Success

One of the most often neglected tasks with regards to social media management is tracking the results of the implemented program. There are a number of software programs that will help you do this quite easily, such as Hootsuite. These programs track the number of times you’ve been mentioned and the increase in fans and followers, among other vital statistics. Furthermore, check your website analytics in order to see any corresponding traffic increases related to social media channels. By taking some time each month to monitor the results, you’ll be able to truly identify whether or not you’re making progress with this marketing method. Your time is valuable, so you want to make sure that you’re spending it wisely and getting a return on your investment.

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