All small business owners know they should be interacting with customers on social media sites but few have any idea where to start. With limited time and resources some jump into the social media game with a Facebook business page without thinking of how to effectively use it. Just as when you sat down and wrote your original business plan, taking time to think about how you will use social media, just in a preliminary way, will save time. Developing a simple social media plan will be a great start.
Clients often ask me, “what is included in a small business social media plan?” While these plans should be customized for your particular business, below is the general outline I used when I started Your Social Media Hour. Yes, even the social media consultant developed a social media plan. It is simple, did not take that long for me to put together, and gives me direction each day on how to interact on social media accounts.
Step 1: Define your goals
Do you want to drive traffic through your storefront door or to your website? Do you need a way to connect with existing customers so they are connected when they need your services again and will recommend you to friends? Do you provide a unique service that needs explanation or time before someone will buy-in? Answering these questions will help clarify the way you interact and position yourself on social media websites.
Step 2: Define your target market
Take a hard look at your current customer/client base. Are you attracting clients based on age, marital status or socioeconomic factors? Do you cater to a specific demographic such as single moms, parents with young children, transitioning college graduates? Is your geographic location important? For instance, a local pizza shop is going to want to attract those who can visit the store while a travel blogger will focus on a broader audience.
Step 3: What information does your target market need?
Your customers and clients need information or services that you can deliver. How can you showcase your talents so you are recognized as an expert? What information do you have to share with them? If you are a Realtor, and looking to attract home buyers, you want to focus your interactions on the nuts and bolts of that process including mortgages, refinancing, and homes available in the area. As another example, if you are a chiropractor, you may want to look at why clients seek out your services, the benefits of regular care, and general information on healthy living.
Step 4: Pick your platforms
Each social media platform has a different flavor and way businesses should conduct themselves for success.
- Google+: Maintaining and building a presence on Google+ cannot be understated. Google will reward you in search results for a well written and active profile. Considered water-cooler casual, posts on G+ can rank and you can connect with a wide range of individuals most of whom are no longer on Facebook.
- LinkedIn: While viewed by many as a business to business network platform or filled with job seekers, LinkedIn is gaining in popularity. More and more we see LinkedIn profiles ranking in Google search results. LinkedIn offers a plethora of groups for you to join based on your core business and then ways to connect with potential clients interested in your services.
- Facebook: Given Facebook’s popularity a well written and active business Facebook page is a must. Recently Facebook introduced a search function so optimizing your Facebook page for success is critical.
- Twitter: Active tweeters come in all shapes and sizes. Given its fast paced environment your tweets should be concise and point readers to interesting content. Correctly using #hashtags puts you in the middle of conversations regarding your core business areas.
Step 5: Optimize your profiles
Having a strong and active presence on social media sites is important. Just as important is making sure your accounts are set-up correctly. With well written social media profiles your goods and services have a much stronger chance of appearing in search results when potential customers and clients are looking. Your profiles should highlight your area of expertise and offerings and allow customers to see your expertise.
Step 6: Deciding how you will get it all done.
Learning the ins and outs of social media sites can be a daunting task. Each site has an infinite number of features that can be used over time to your advantage. This part requires expert assistance or a substantial amount of research and happens to be the reason I developed this website. I have taken my own experience and expertise and break down the daily steps making sure all of your social media bases are covered. Following daily instructions you can spend your time connecting and promoting rather than stumbling around.
The best part about a social media plan? It is flexible and you can modify it at any time. Since social media is an ever changing universe, small business owners need expert guidance to guide them through best practices to maximize limited time and maximize effort. To successfully navigate and use the platforms correctly requires time and knowledge. Check back with us often for updates and great tips!