Most marketers will tell you that using a structured social media marketing strategy can be a valuable tool in helping any business gain a competitive edge in a digital world.
It can help reach a wider audience, market and extend your brand, and play a part in helping build meaningful and lasting relationships with your customers. But what about those smaller businesses who haven’t yet dipped their toe in the water – how do they go about building a social media presence?
Where do they start?
How can small businesses create a simple yet effective social media marketing strategy? Well, hopefully over the course of the next couple of articles we’ll try to give you some answers and suggestions.
Define your strategy.
Before any business even contemplates setting up a social media presence, there are one or two fundamental questions that need to be asked. Do you really need a social media strategy? Would it be fitting or appropriate for the kind of business you run? Which platform would sit best with your business, and would you run the account yourself or outsource it to a social media consultant? Questions- questions: yes, we know. On the face of it they may seem unnecessary, but we think they’re vital. After all, there’s no point sweating over something that wouldn’t be appropriate or worthwhile for you.
If you’ve decided that the social media is the right course for you, then you need to define what direction you’re going to take. In short, you need a strategy. You’ll never reach your destination if you don’t know which direction you’ll be heading in. What are you hoping to achieve? What’s the purpose of using the social media? Do you want to increase brand awareness, build relationships or get people to sign up to your email newsletter? When you know what outcome you want, you can determine what strategy will help you achieve it.
Small is just beautiful, it’s smart too.
It might be a cliché, but we all have to learn to walk before we gain the ability to run. Some people will tell you that what you need to do is establish some sort of presence on all the major platforms to get your voice heard. But having a profile on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ shouldn’t be an end in itself. Yes you might have a profile on each of these, but so what? If the profile doesn’t say much about you or doesn’t sell what you are, then it’s pointless. It’s far more preferable to concentrate on a single platform to begin with. You also need to remember that not all social platforms are appropriate for all businesses. If you manufacture fashion garments, then photos on Facebook will look well and will help to sell your products. The same is probably not true with LinkedIn: that demographic is geared towards business-to-business professionals. Similarly if you run a law practice, then review sites won’t suit your purpose, whereas if you run a coffee shop setting up on Yelp, Foursquare and other review sites will serve you best. You could say it was a question of horses for courses.
Don’t oversell yourself: engage instead.
There’s an old adage in marketing that is born out of truth, which says 80% of business is generated from 20% of customers. The 80/20 rule feels almost as old as marketing itself, but it’s a fact. So, the obvious thing to do is to apply this same concept to your marketing strategy. The sales will follow on naturally as long as the marketing approach is right and resonates with the audience. Spend 80% of your time engaging, and save the other 20% for selling. What’s important is to build a lasting relationship. You don’t just want the one sale: you want repeat sales. These will only happen if your customers trust you and value what you give them. If you can portray yourself as more than a business, then they’re far more likely to recommend you to their friends. It’s self-fulfilling really: look after your customers and give them added value, and they’ll look after you. You can’t lose really.