Social Media Strategy For Small Businesses

Dear theartofsocialmedia ,

Please can you fix it for me to have a social media strategy for my small business? I really think I need one and I don’t know where to start.

Yours Sincerely,

Mr Small Business Owner

Typical Town

County Overtaxed

Republic of Bankrupt

 

I have never received a communication of this type, but if I did, I think I might have a starting place for a small business with social media. I think social media is the great leveller for business marketing and growth. Success in social media marketing is measured primarily in engagement and brand advocacy. Money cannot buy you that. Knowing who you are, who your customer is and the relationship between the two is the key here and anyone can make this connection from Coca Cola to Sam’s Hardware store. So first thing is first, if you are a small business get excited about social media, it could possibly grow your company in ways you never knew or thought possible.

As with the first post on this blog, the beginning of your journey is asking yourself why? Why are you doing this? Look at the Why? post and try to answer the questions. As a small business you hold a massive advantage over the corporate world…you know your customers. Large corporations spend millions trying to constantly understand their customer base, you, on the other hand, can probably tell me all about your top twenty customers off the top of your head. Why use social media? Because primarily, it will activate your relationship with the customers you know and develop them from loyal customers to brand advocates and promoters. Secondly, it will help you develop relationships with the longer tail of customers you have and develop them in to fans of the brand.

This deeper connection with your core customer base is the centre of your strategy. Often businesses enter social media because they think that by posting something, it will get many eyes seeing it and this will be free advertising. They are right for the first few posts, but when your fans realise you are shouting at them rather than adding to their life, watch how little they start sharing your posts or acting on them. That line of thinking is a house built on sand. Your strategy must have good foundations so lets build those foundations.

Foundation 1 – Who Am I? Consider the questions posed in this post about finding your brands voice. Who are you and what do you mean to your customers. If you are a hardware store in a town, you are more than the some total of your inventory. You are everything to do with DIY. You are the experts in repair and mend. Think about the people in your social circle and what they bring to your life. Everyone has a friend who knows more about cars than everyone else and religiously watches Top Gear. That is the person you will always ring when something goes wrong with your car. Well brands can fill these gaps and needs in peoples lives as well. If you are the hardware store you should open yourself up to be the fountain of knowledge for your local area for DIY. Set the brand up as that, “Joe’s Hardware – Middlesborough’s DIY Guru” or something more engaging 😉 . It is a land grab out there to fulfill that role for people, grab it.

Foundation 2 – Now that you know who you are, what do you want to achieve? Set the goals for your social. Not just Likes or followers. Set goals of how many people are engaging with you a week. How many people recommend you a month.Set goals and reassess every quarter. My advice would be in your first year, concentrate on setting goals which relate to making your social channels somewhere where your customer base want to be and actively engage in. The ultimate goal for Year 1 should be a small but highly active community on one or maybe two social channels.

Foundation 3 – Pick your channels. Find out what you want to do and pick the right channel or channels to help you to do that. If Facebook doesn’t seem right, grab the URL for your business and park it for now. Don’t force a channel if it doesn’t seem right to you. My advice is start of engaging with one, learn the platform, build your following, engage here and then, if necessary extend to other channels. Different platforms bring different things, don’t just replicate. Your Twitter channel may well have a completely different function to your Facebook or Youtube. When choosing ask “Why would people want to engage with me here? and What do my customers need or want ont his platform?”.

Foundation 4 – Content. The style and direction of your content is dictated by your findings in Foundation 1. Once you know who you are, then you should know what you are going to say. People get hung up on creating their own content and sure that is nearly always better but it is also not practical. Your content just needs to be good. If you own  car garage, you have a wealth of content you can constantly update with. Car videos, funny car crashes, motor racing videos, car maintenance videos etc etc. All of this is what I would expect from my local car garage, the experts in cars. Entertain and inform. Dont just post your latest offers. Be confident, post things people will want to see on their timelines not ads.

With your foundation in place you can go forward and begin the integration of social to your business. Your behaviour will now dictate your success or otherwise with social media. To help you, I have laid out some behaviour rules below –

1. Listen – it’s a conversation, listen to what people are saying. Don’t just search brand mentions, search what your customers are saying, listen to them and step in when you are relevant. Learn to listen with this post.

2. Be Honest – don’t lie.

3. Embrace Social – get in to social media, explore it. It won’t bite.

4. Integrate Social – bring it in to your business. Give it importance to you and your employees.

5. Be Consistant – once you pop, you can’t stop. Social is the biggest sign for your business, if you are on Facebook, there are 800 million potential customers on there, don’t let your social channels drag or become inactive. It is the worst advert for your business.

6. Have Fun

There is an awful lot more to social strategy but this should be enough to get anyone started. After that you have to hire really expensive social media strategist……just email me 🙂

 

 

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