Improve Small Business Marketing Strategy With Social Media
By: Michael Tasner
Step One: Identify Objectives and Audience
The first step in crafting a social media strategy is to identify your objectives. What do you hope to get out of these efforts? Social media can be used for a variety of business functions:
- General branding or "getting your name out there"
- Selling your products/services directly
- Customer Service
- Distributing Coupons/Offers
- Driving traffic to your web site
Decide which one (or all) of the above makes sense based on your company’s quantifiable goals. For example, your goal may be to send 100 new website visitors to your site in the first sixty days, and to close 5% of those visitors.
Step Two: Identify Appropriate Platforms
Once you have identified your goals, the next step is to define your target market/audience. For example, you may want to reach white women between the ages of 35-45 that are married with 3 kids and have a combined family income of over $100,000. A target audience of "males between 50-75" is simply too broad and too large of a market.
Armed with this information, the next step is to select three to five social media platforms from which to start marketing. The key: your target market needs to be actively using the platforms you select in order for them to be effective.
Rather than setting up accounts on hundreds of different sites, it is best to start off small and test and grow these sites. Managing more than five sites requires a much larger staff and investment to maintain.
To narrow your list down, take a look at alexa.com and view the Top 1000 sites in the US (or the country in which you’re looking to market) and focus on those social networks first.
These sites may not be right for your target audience. Spend some time reading about their demographics. This information can typically be found on the social network, or are a quick Google search away. Again, the key is that your target audience should be actively using the site.
Step Three: Establishing a Social Media Presence
Once you have confirmed your list of three to five social media sites to test, you should establish a consistent presence across the sites, keeping in mind several things:
1) What are the rules of the site in regards to posting, setting up the profiles, links etc? Twitter, for example, only allows minimal descriptions and one link. Personal Facebook profiles must be in the name of a person, not a brand and non-promotional. But a Facebook Business Page can be bluntly promotional. Adhere to the guidelines to ensure your accounts do not get banned.
2) What is your company’s value proposition that you want to get across to accomplish your goals? If your focus is to drive traffic back to your website, then mention your company and WHY they should check out your website. If your objective is to provide coupons for people to use, then talk about the coupons in your messaging.
If one of your goals is to sell your products or services directly from the site, I recommend using an affiliate link for each of the social networks. This allows you to accurately track any sales that come from the site and measure effectiveness.
Tip: Ask a few trusted sources to spellcheck your sites before they go live.
Step Four: Keeping your Content Vital
The biggest secret to being a social media leader is to make a contribution to the network. Remember to practice education-based marketing before you move into sales pitch mode. Establishing a relationship first is critical. Regularly post useful content on your sites to keep them searchable.
Be sure to meaningfully promote your sites in customer communications. "Check us out on Facebook!" is fine, but if you're going to stand out from the crowd, say something like, "Go check our Facebook page where you will find a wealth of free information on XYZ topic." This will separate you from the pack and evoke more loyal Facebook relationships.
Lastly, measure the effectiveness of your campaigns after two to three months, and then each month thereafter as compared to your goals. Do not be discouraged if it takes a bit longer then you would like. Make needed adjustments; test out your sites by creating a few different social media accounts. I encourage you to stick with it. If done right, social media will pay off handsomely for your business. It’s a trend that is not going away!
© 2010 Michael Tasner, author of Marketing in the Moment: The Practical Guide to Using Web 3.0 Marketing to Reach Your Customers First.
Michael Tasner is author of Marketing in the Moment: The Practical Guide to Using Web 3.0 Marketing to Reach Your Customers First. An entrepreneur, author, speaker, and charity proponent, Tasner founded Taz Solutions, Inc., in 2000 and has built it into a leading Web marketing firm with more than 100 contractors involved in all areas of online/Internet strategy, marketing, and web site design.