How to Use Social Media
- 74% of online adults use social networking sites.
- Social media is 57% of your sales funnel.
- 81% of consumers research online before making big purchases.
- Three in five small businesses say they’ve gained new customers by using social media.
With all of that potential for success, there’s no reason to be watching from the sidelines. Our guide focuses on using social media for small business. We’ll cover everything you need to get up and running, and how to sustain your online presence once it has been established. First, we need to review some marketing basics.
Define Your Goals
Not all social media strategies are created equal. Some are designed to drive awareness while others are built around engagement and specific calls-to-action. There are a lot of elements to social media. For instance, Facebook is a single platform that has many moving parts. You don’t want to approach it haphazardly. It’s inefficient and only creates more work for yourself.
By forming and actually writing down thoughtful and achievable goals, you’ll have a solid understanding of whether or not your social media efforts paid off. A study found 76% of participants achieved their goals through specific goal-setting strategies. There are numerous approaches to goal-setting.
SMART goals are one of the most popular goal-setting frameworks for businesses.
- Specific. The more specific you can be with your objective, the easier it’ll be to see what it is you need to do.
- Measurable. Can your goal be measured? How will you track your progress and know if your goal has been achieved?
- Attainable. Think realistically. Is the goal you’ve set for yourself possible to achieve?
- Relevant. Does your goal drive your business forward? Is it the right time?
- Time. Goals are meaningless without deadlines. Give yourself one.
Define Your Audience
When it comes to marketing effectively, you wouldn’t walk into the center of a crowded room and start yelling at people, so why do the same thing online? Social media is one of the best ways to reach your target audience, but first you have to figure out who they are. Those details will help you figure out which social platforms are best for you and the type of content you’ll share.When identifying your target audience, consider factors such as age, location, income, education, and Interests/hobbies.Remember, the more specific you can be, the better. This will enable you to create a strong social media marketing strategy around these individuals and take a more targeted approach to each the right people at the appropriate time.
Research the Platforms
Now that you know who you want to reach, you’ll need to figure out where they are. Social networks have varied user bases—some cater to niche groups while others are digital melting pots. As a small business, your time and energy is very valuable. It doesn’t make sense to invest it on one social network if your primary target audience is more active on another.
Platform Strengths & Weaknesses
Going beyond just demographics, you need to know the strengths and weaknesses of each platform. If you specialize in video content, for example, then you’ll want to choose the platform that best supports that type of media.
Specifically on YouTube, 300 hours of video is uploaded every minute, but 67% of Facebook users in the US said they discovered the videos they watch on the social network.
Do you want to work within a six- or 15-second time constraint, or would you like your content to disappear after it’s viewed?
How often do you plan to publish content? Is Facebook or Twitter better for engagement? If you’re going to update multiple times a day, then Twitter’s fast-moving stream might be the right fit. But if you only plan to post a couple of times a week, you don’t want that content to become buried minutes after it’s been published. Facebook has a longer lifespan than Twitter, making it easier to stay relevant without burning out on content.
Using social media for small business isn’t only good for driving awareness and engagement; it’s great for relationship building as well. When customers try to reach you with a question or complaint, many do so on social media. So which platforms are best equipped to help you handle customer service queries?
Adopt a Social Media Management Tool
One of the easiest ways for small businesses to fail at social media is by trying to take on too much at a time. In the beginning, it’s tempting to be on every platform, blasting out as much content as you can to anyone who will listen, but that’s not what social media is about. Essentially, social media is creating value and establishing real relationships.
But as we said, small business owners often juggle many different responsibilities and need to optimize their time. Social media management tools like Sprout Social, ThinkUp, HootSuite, Social Bro, and others make it easy to share content across multiple networks, track brand mentions and get detailed reports and other crucial tasks every small business needs.
Know Your Numbers
We touched on this a bit earlier when talking about objectives. Your goals have been established and you’ve defined parameters around what success looks like. Now, it’s time to focus on measuring that success. How close are you to achieving your goal? What tactics bring you closer or further away from reaching your goal? The only way to answer these questions is by tracking social media metrics.If you have a Facebook Page you’ll probably want to track things such as Page Likes, Post Reach, Impressions, Engagement and Unlikes. On Twitter, you’ll want to keep a close eye on Retweets, Tweet Impressions, @ Mentions, Followers, and Tweets Linking to You.
"This post originally appeared on Sprout Social" - http://sproutsocial.com/insights/social-media-for-small-business/ :
A couple of years ago, small business owners were questioning whether social media was a worthwhile investment. Now, it’s no longer a question of should you be using social media, but rather how you can use it efficiently and effectively to drive your business forward.
According to research from LinkedIn, 81% of small businesses use social media. That’s mind blowing when you consider the following:
Source: Jennifer Beese - a community manager and social media strategist for several startups.