Social Media Marketing for Small Business

The explosion of social media has changed marketing plans for many companies, large and small.  Indeed, you may already be using Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and other platforms to boost your business.  If you’re not up and running on social media, however, there is no need to panic.  Some basic steps can get you off to a good start.

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Identify Your Resources.  In all likelihood, some of your employees are comfortable using social media.  Bring them in for conversations when developing your plan and consider delegating tasks to qualified team members around this function.

If you do not have this skill set internally, many companies outsource this responsibility to independent contractors.  Other business owners utilize the familiarity with social media of younger family members, such as their children, nieces, or nephews.  Employing a child can be especially tax effective, if you can shift income to a lower tax bracket.  Earned income is not subject to the potentially painful “kiddie tax” limits.

Monitor Online Content, Including Posts, Comments, Updates, & Feedback.  Regardless of whether you share company related content on social media, you should be aware of what others are saying about you and your firm.  Responding can provide a medium to strengthen your operations, public image, and overall brand.  This process can be carried out by internal staff or relatives as part of your company’s marketing function.  Again, if you don’t have staff or relatives available to assist with monitoring content, social media monitoring services can be contacted out to third party vendors.

Concentrate on Content Output.  An effective social media strategy should be proactive as well as reactive.  That is, you should be posting original content (in the form of blog posts, articles, slideshow presentations, or videos) or notifying followers of interesting developments related to your industry.  At least initially, you should avoid trying to post content on multiple social media sites.  Instead, focus your efforts on a single platform that’s relevant to your customers, prospects, and other business contacts.  Seek counsel from your “team” to point you in the direction of the most appropriate platform (i.e., Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.).  Upon identifying one channel, spend some time getting to know how it works best for your company.  Eventually, you can broaden the scope of your online presence to other platforms.

Tone Down the Sales Pitch.  While social media marketing can be used to directly promote your company’s products, services, personnel, or brand, it is imperative that you share educational and entertaining content as well.  In an economic environment of today’s information age, consumers do not typically respond well to the “hard” sell.  Furthermore, you and your company’s brand will fare better over the long-term by establishing itself as a knowledgeable resource (i.e., thought leader) in the minds of its constituents.  Marketing your company as a thought leader in its respective field is accomplished as follows:

  • Publish online posts (via social media, blogs, website, etc.) explaining current developments related to your industry,
  • Provide links to interesting articles for sharing with followers, and
  • Create slideshow presentations or video tutorials for uploading to your social media profile.

Be sure to include visual images and thoughtful headlines on your posts/updates, as these aspects increase interest in your online content.  Perhaps most important, be persistent in your approach to social media marketing, as it takes time to cultivate a following and reputation as a thought leader within your industry.  Finally, you should always double check company-originated information before posting to social media sites.  Once your company sends out anything that can be construed (or misconstrued) as offensive, the damage can be difficult to undo.

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