used with permission from SBA.gov
by Anita Campbell
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and more — social media can be pretty overwhelming at times. But hold on!
Success in social media may not be nearly as complicated as you think. In fact, here’s a simple formula any small business owner or entrepreneur can follow to become a social media superstar. These seven steps will get you started.
Define your marketing goals
Start with a plan. Define a small set of marketing goals. (But not too many!) For example, perhaps you want to:
- Develop better brand loyalty in customers who already like your products or services
- Create a mailing list to allow you share new products or other news
- Drive traffic to your website to share more information about your brand or generate more sales
- Establish thought leadership to distinguish your brand in your industry or market
- Expand brand recognition in general
Identify the best platforms
Decide which social media platform will best achieve your goal. For example, Twitter is best for brands with a shorter message to communicate, and can work great as a soap box. Facebook offers live streaming features and the ability to build a special page for your brand. Instagram and Pinterest are great options for you to share photos of products. Figure out which social platforms will be most effective for promoting your brand’s message.
Launch your social profiles
To launch your social media presence, begin by creating an engaging profile. You can start with a description of your business that really grabs a visitor’s attention. Provide a link. Then add your logo and any other pertinent images. For example, you’ll want an engaging cover image on your profiles. This will be a larger image that could feature your products, team or store interior. But be sure to make it something to grab the visitor’s attention. Use a simple tool like Canva to create your own cover images, or have a pro do it. A custom Facebook cover image could cost as little as $100 at DesignPax.
Update content to your social media pages
Once you create that Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or other social presence for your small business, it’s important to keep it up to date. Visitors want to see fresh content — regularly! Feed the latest news, photos and videos to your social accounts at least a couple times a week. It doesn’t have to be all original. You can curate content from others’ blogs or video channels. Just be sure to credit them with a social handle. Besides keeping your social channels active, this could be a great networking tool. You’re showing others you appreciate their content enough to share it.
Comment, reply, share – and engage!
You won’t become a social media superstar by posting alone. You’ve got to comment, reply and share, too. In other words, engage others about their content. They call it social media for a reason. Be social! You wouldn’t go to a cocktail party and do nothing but talk about yourself, right? So retweet, like, and comment. Maybe drop in for the occasional Twitter chat or Facebook Live. Don’t be self-absorbed, or you won’t have followers for long.
Deploy automation tools to help
Just like in other aspects of your business, automation can save you time as activity on your social channel increases. Zoho Social, Buffer, Hootsuite and SocialOomph are just some of the technologies available to help cut down your workload.
But automation doesn’t mean forgetting to keep a personal connection with followers. Here’s how to keep a balance. Use automation to schedule updates. You can also use this software to get together all activity into a central place so you don’t have to run around logging in on a lot of different platforms. If you use the technology adeptly, it won’t be noticeable by followers and won’t make you seem impersonal. Remember, don’t automate everything. Just use automation to save time and keep costs low.
Track and measure results
Analytics tracks and measures progress toward marketing goals. It’s built into social platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, but you can also find a third-party tool for providing measurements in a consolidated dashboard. Again, big names here include Zoho Social, Buffer and Hootsuite. These platforms also manage your posting and alert you to comments on your posts.