Starting to market your business on Social Media channels is much like riding a bike without training wheels for the first time. You have no idea what you're doing, everything seems so strange, you have to learn how to balance and you have to fall before you pick yourself up and keep on riding. The analogy may sound strange, but it's true for many businesses that are just starting their Social Media marketing efforts.
So what the heck is social media marketing? Social media marketing is using the various social media channels (pinterest, instagram, twitter, facebook, etc...) to promote your business and connect with clients, customers and prospective clients and customers as well. It's giving your brand that little bit of extra exposure and possibly introducing your business to new individuals who may want your product or service.
When you first plan to market via Social Media, ask yourself the following questions:
- What do I want to accomplish by adding Social Media to my marketing plan? What are my main goals of this attempt?
- Who will maintain my social networking accounts once they are up and running?
- Which social media channels should I participate in?
- Am I going to provide customer service via social media?
- How will I track my social media efforts to know if they are working for me?
Many businesses want to begin to participate in Social Media for their business because they want to either:
- Gain new clients/customers
- Have more brand visibility/exposure
- Start producing more sales
Social Media is an absolutely great outlet for all of these goals, but you have to know how to market correctly. Which brings us to the next question...
Who will maintain your Social Media accounts?
For a small business just starting out on social media, you may be wondering who can take care of your social media accounts for you once they are up and running. You could delegate the task to a current employee, hire on a new employee or you can delegate the task to a Virtual Assistant who is also a social media marketing specialist. Virtual Assistants are well versed in the world of social media and know the correct ways to market and get you the visibility that you so desire. They are well-trained and consider social media a large part of their lives; they can get you the results you want and save you money in the process. Whoever you choose for the job, you need someone who will give you the ROI. Maybe not monetary ROI but a ROI for the time that you invested in the social media efforts. You want to see the conversion to customers and sales and you want to see that your effort is working for your business.
You may be wondering what social media channels you should participate in -- ALL OF THEM. Each and every single one of the social media channels can be outlets where you can promote your business and every single one of them may open your business to new prospective clients and customers. Utilizing every social media channel gives you a better probability that you will get more leads for your business. (See: Using Instagram for Business) However, you should do some research and find out where your target demographic is actually hanging out. Once you find that information, focus your marketing strongly on that channel.
Are you going to offer customer service on your social networking profiles? Twitter and Facebook are the best platforms for that since the ease of communicating with the individual is much better. Some people may be scratching their heads at the thought of this but more and more businesses are offering customer service via social media channels. Why? It gives the customer a more prompt response to their questions or concerns and it also makes them feel like you are giving them one on one, individualized attention to what they are asking or saying to you. I highly suggest incorporating customer service into your social networking plan.
So, how do you create this Social Media Marketing plan?
You need to come up with a strategy. How often are you planning on posting? What are you planning on posting? You need to sit down with a pen and paper and start outlining a basic schedule for social media posting and some ideas on just what you could post to catch the customer's attention. You could post information about your products or services, open ended questions that encourage customer interaction, facts about your business or industry, link your most recent blog post, etc... It's also important to do some research on the best times to post on the individual social media channels.
Then choose what social media channels you are planning on using and get started on creating your accounts for those particular channels. Registering is easy but writing a description about your business can sometimes prove to be difficult. You may know how to pitch your business and promote yourself, but often you are not given enough room (characters) to write all that you would normally write. You have to try to summarize! You have to try to get the important point of your business onto your profile without being too wordy and wasting space. Keep in mind: The customer will most likely just quickly glance at your profile. It's just like a first impression -- you have to make sure you make a good and strong first impression or you're most likely doomed! Let the first part of your description be what your business is about, what do you offer and how can you help the customer with your products or services.
Next you will have to choose a profile picture. This can be your business's logo, your team, a photo of a new product you recently launched or a product that you are planning on launching. Your photo should be very clear, free of too much clutter or a very busy background. Make your photo stand out by using photo editing tools to mess around with the hue, saturation, brightness, contrast, etc...!
** Remember that self promotion doesn't necessarily mean to annoy your followers with shamless plugs. If you want to add a link to your website, think of a way to creatively post the link. You don't want it to come across as being too pushy! Some ideas would be to post a tip or trick with a link to your website, posting your latest blog post or a popular blog post on your site or coming up with unique content that will allow you to seamlessly mesh in your website link to the post.
Make sure that your social media profiles and posts are well-optimized for your industry. You want to be seen above the competition and you do have to work for it. Use #hashtags, keywords that visitors may search for, offer value in your posts and make sure that you interact on the channels as well. (See: Social Media Etiquette)
Build your community - Post your social media channel links on your website, blog, send the links out in your e-mail newsletters and add the websites to your business cards. You want your current client/customer base to know that you've joined social media channels, you want them to follow you. You should also add individuals that you feel may want or need your service or product. I generally just do a search for my main keywords and add the users who seem to have a high interest in what I offer. More often than not, they will follow you back and see every single thing that you post to your social media channel. If they (or anyone) comments or replies to you, answer them back! Interaction is vital! It gives your company that personal touch and shows that you care about your customers or clients. It will build rapport and earn their trust and they will know that if they ever have a question or concern, they can reply to you.
Slowly but surely you can learn to market your business via Social Media. It takes time, a lot of research and a lot of trial and error. For this exact reason I do suggest you outsource someone who knows what they are doing. A social media professional can make Social Media Integration seamless, painless and an avenue of promotion that will get you results!