Social Media for the Small Business – Which Networks, What Content and How to Engage
As a small business owner, you may already feel overwhelmed by your regular daily responsibilities without even adding any social media marketing efforts to the mix. This can create a dilemma in which you understand the importance of marketing via social media, but you may feel completely strapped for time and unsure of how to proceed. Below are the brass tacks to help you conduct your small business social media marketing efforts in the most efficient and productive manner possible.
The Right Networks to Use
There are literally hundreds of different social networking sites out there, and it’s simply not practical (or possible) to consistently maintain a presence on all of them. It is much wiser to narrow your focus and only include the social networks that have the greatest potential of reaching the most people. Facebook and Twitter definitely fit the bill in this regard, because they provide an excellent platform for one-on-one interaction with current and prospective customers. The comments, suggestions, and even criticisms you receive through these platforms can reveal what you are doing well, and what you may need to improve.
LinkedIn is a great resource for promoting your business as well. By setting up a LinkedIn Company Page, you will have access to several features that can help increase the visibility of your business on this social network. When you create your Company Page, be sure to write a compelling description of your business, and include a dynamic cover photo as well. Every Company Page has a “Products and Services” tab where you can feature images of your products or services, along with descriptions and links to purchase them. When writing your description, don’t forget to include keywords that relate to what you offer, so that people can find your business through LinkedIn’s search function. Having a complete and descriptive LinkedIn Company Page can do wonders for building your brand and establishing trust among colleagues and potential clients.
Two other social heavyweights that cannot be ignored are Instagram and Pinterest. They are similar in that both of them are more visually oriented than the other top social networks, but they differ in the type of audiences they represent. Consider your target customers – Instagram is used by many millennials and younger consumers. Pinterest has a slightly older user base and is extremely popular with women. By properly leveraging these image-sharing social sites, you can offer your audience a visual peek into what makes your brand tick.
Your Content: What to Publish and How to Engage
Since each social platform has its own personality, it’s important for you to vary your content accordingly. Below are some content publishing and engagement tips that cater to the characteristics of each particular social network:
- Facebook: Focus on content that asks questions and provokes interaction with your audience. This can include surveys, polls, or even an informal online focus group. Since Facebook is a social network that revolves around relational connections, be sure that your communications are not one-sided; in other words, your Facebook presence should be more than just a channel for making company announcements. Strive to involve your audience by soliciting their insights and opinions.
- Twitter: Since Twitter limits you to 140 characters per tweet, you need to be concise and to-the-point with your posts. Many successful brands share encouraging quotes and other non-business-related communications right along with news or information about their brands, to lend a more personal feel to their social presence. One of the most powerful things you can do is take note of who is following your Twitter account, and either retweet their posts or follow them back in return. These acts of goodwill can yield surprisingly positive results in terms of fostering engagement with your Twitter fan base.
- LinkedIn: Posting regular business-related status updates is a commonly accepted practice on LinkedIn, but be sure to be warm and friendly in all of your communications. In addition, commenting on the updates of other companies on LinkedIn can do wonders for increasing the visibility of your own business.
- Instagram: Try to post informal and exclusive images for your Instagram audience. This could include what you or your employees do after hours (using appropriate discretion, of course), or a look behind the scenes at your business headquarters. People love to feel like they’re getting a peek into the inner workings of a particular business or brand, and this will help to convey the type of authenticity that clients and prospects truly appreciate.
- Pinterest: Infographics are wildly popular on Pinterest. You can also publish images from your blog posts, as well as more informal subject matter such as employee photos (these typically do very well on Pinterest). Make sure to organize your boards in a logical way according to subject matter, and don’t be afraid to employ a little creativity with titles and comments under your pins.
Embarking on a social media marketing campaign can definitely be exciting, but it can also turn into a colossal time sink if you are undisciplined with your schedule. Be sure to develop a realistic posting schedule for your social media activities and stick with it. This consistent, focused approach to social media marketing will help to build your brand and position your business for success.