Social media marketing is a cost-effective way for small businesses to attract new customers, keep existing ones and get noticed. But the perennial problem is finding time to spend on it.
While managing social media marketing does take some effort, it’s more a matter or working smarter rather than harder at it.
Here are seven things you can do that will make your efforts more efficient and effective.
1. Use time-saving social media management tools: Platforms such as Hootsuite, Sprout, Buffer, Zoho Social, Everypost, SocialOomph and others help business owners automate and streamline their social media marketing. You can schedule posts in advance, build followers, respond to requests and measure your results all in one place. In one evening, you could schedule posts for an entire week and essentially put it on auto pilot. Then just check in to monitor questions and comments.
Costs are reasonable, signing up is easy. You can connect your Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+ and Tumblr accounts, and manage them from one dashboard.
2. Customize your content to the audience: Many small businesses hurt their social media efforts by publishing content that’s not targeted to their audience. This wastes time and is a turnoff to potential customers. Stick with topics that you know are of interest to your audience, are related to your product, service or industry, and bring some kind of value to the reader.
3. Keep your profiles consistent: If you have a presence in multiple social media channels, it’s important that the look, feel and messages you use to describe your business are the same in all places. Using the same logos, images and words will give customers and prospects a more clear understanding of what your business does and what your brand is all about. Big companies are sticklers about brand consistency, and you should be too.
4. Don’t leave reviews to chance: Create and implement a strategy around asking for customer reviews. Prepare a repeatable email you can send thanking customers for their business and asking if they’d share their good experience in a review (assuming you believe they were happy). Include links to a few places they could leave a review or testimonial on your social media pages or website.
5. Sync your website and social media to coordinate your efforts: Many small businesses treat each social media outlet as a stand-alone platform. That’s generally a mistake. Your own website should be HQ for your efforts, and social media pages should aim to send traffic there. Be sure to display your social icons (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.) prominently on your website, including links to each of them. Add sharing buttons to your blog posts so readers can easily pass them along, and include a call to action on your web pages, emails, blog posts and elsewhere asking people to follow you, check out new content or visit other parts of your site.
6. Explore a few paid advertising options: Many business owners have an aversion to paid social media advertising. But there are many options that can be both cheap and effective. And you retain complete control, since you can set whatever daily, weekly or monthly budget you want, and can turn your campaigns on or off at will. Social media marketing offers great opportunities to target very small and specific audiences, based on demographic qualities, interests, geography and scores of others. It’s at least worth checking out.
7. Track your results. The single most important thing you can do to improve your social media marketing efforts is to keep track of what’s going on and analyze the results. This will show you what’s working, what’s not working, and where you should consider changes.
The platforms themselves have built-in measurement and analytical capabilities that you should take advantage of. The social media management services mentioned above are also great for measurement purposes. And of course Google Analytics is a popular and easy to use option for keeping track of what’s happening on your website.
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