Here’s How to Get Started
I’ve talked to so many small business owners who know that social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter) is the latest trend they should be capitalizing on to help grow their business. But ask them how to go about initiating a social media campaign and they give me a blank stare. They just don’t know where to start, and it all seems so overwhelming. So if you’re among the confused, or you just don’t have the time but know you should be doing social media, here are some tips and thoughts to consider.
First: The Benefits of Social Media
To start, maybe some of you are wondering why they should care about social media. Isn’t it just for young folks? Well, the answer is: no. Many individuals from all generations are getting involved in social media, and many businesses are building a fan base and a following in social media too. (including some of your customers or favorite regional and national brands). I like to think of social media not as a replacement of traditional media, but an alternative method of building brand awareness and communicating with customers, prospects, fans, vendors, partners and the media. Social media is a great place to show your company or your brand’s personality, as well as to share news or information that is important to you, your business or your industry. It can be a great way to connect with reporters and media, as well as to follow what media are publishing. It’s a great way to get feedback from customers about a new product idea or to handle customer service issues. It can also be used as a tool to drive traffic to your blog or website, to position you as an expert, and many more benefits. One of the greatest benefits of social media is that it is a low-cost marketing method (but don’t forget to account for the value of your time).
Next: Start with Why Your Company Should Do Social Media:
I want to reiterate that social media marketing is not going to be the perfect fit for every business or industry. That’s why it’s important to first take the time to investigate whether or not this is the best channel for gaining awareness for your business, communicating with prospects and customers, and sharing your message. So think for a minute about your ideal customers. Do they spend time online? Do they read blogs, watch videos on YouTube, have a personal Facebook page? If so, then social media might be a good fit for your business. If your customers don’t have regular access to a computer or smartphone for visiting social media sites, than it might not be the most important marketing vehicle for your business. One way to discover this is to ask your customers if they use Twitter or Facebook regularly. In addition to determining which social media vehicles are right for you, think too about how you can incorporate existing marketing and advertising into your social media efforts. Could you drive people from a print ad to your Facebook fan page for a special offer? Also think about how you could drive people from your social media accounts to your storefront or website to complete a sale. When you integrate your social media with your overall marketing efforts, you’ll have a greater chance for success.
Next: Setup and Initial Social Media Training
If you do not already have a Facebook fan page, Twitter or LinkedIn account, now is the time to get started (we can assist with this if needed). For Facebook, you can go through the advertising link at the bottom of the page to create and manage your business Fan Page. On LinkedIn, you can create and manage your company profile and add employees and basic company information, as well as links to your website. On Twitter, you can create both a business and a personal account, depending on whom is going to be doing the tweeting. What I recommend is to spend some time looking at other company’s accounts to see what they are doing, and just using this time to “follow” or “like” other accounts. You can see some examples of good Facebook landing pages as well as what people are posting and the information they’re sharing on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Look for companies or individuals you already know and try to find them on social media. You’d be surprised at how many people are already using social media. AimFire Marketing can help with initial training on how to use your account, common features and tools, how to increase followers, etc.
Next: Content Strategy
What I see many people doing with social media is that they create their accounts on Twitter and Facebook and then let the accounts lie dormant, because they don’t have the staff or the time to spend posting. If you or your team don’t think you will be able to devote at least a few hours a week to social media, then it’s probably best to outsource it to an agency or consultant (like AimFire Marketing) who can handle this for you. We can work together with you to develop a content strategy and ideas for blog posts, as well as the kinds of topics that might interest your clients and followers. If you have a regular blog or e-newsletter that you send to customers, or case studies or press releases that you send out, this content can be easily re-purposed on social media sites. In addition, we can work with you to find content that others have written that we can share online too. The most important thing is to have some sort of content strategy going into social media marketing so that you’re not just haphazardly posting information without a goal in mind.
These are a few things that you should keep in mind as you launch into the world of social media marketing. Don’t be afraid to dip your toes in the water, even if you’re intimidated by the thought of social media. Once you get used to it, you may actually start enjoying it — and see the results of your efforts.