In It to Win It: Some Tips to Get Started on Social Media
So, with our help, you’ve finally come to the realisation that you’ve got to be in it to win it. You feel good. You feel inspired. This is going to do wonders for your business, you tell yourself. You’re quite excited about seeing the likes flood in and having some fun conversations with your clients. You feel positive. You sit down at your laptop. Now where do you start?
We’ve put together some tips and tricks firstly to get you started on social media.
(An idea: Make yourself a cuppa and grab a pen and paper. Brainstorm.)
1. Identify your audience
This should be easy. It’s your clientele! Target every post towards them and keep them in mind throughout the whole process of your social media journey. The first task with your pen and paper could be to bullet point a list of typical demographics for your target audience. It helps to specify a broad age range, occupational segment, key interests and geographic areas to name a few. This will help you to design content to suit your audience.
2. Identify your persona
Ask yourself, ‘how do I want people to perceive my business?’. Think about your branding and the tone of your website to ensure you’re always promoting a consistent message. Do you want to keep it strictly professional or is there room for a little quirkiness? This will be a big part of how you address your clients online and whether you keep them engaged. Everything you post over your social media accounts will leave an impression about your business in your audience’s mind.
3. Identify your goals
What is it, exactly that you are trying to achieve? A larger audience? A more engaged audience? An audience that is interested in the persona of your company? This should link with your business goals and will affect every post you plan. For example, if you are a florist, your objective may be to increase the number of walk-in clients. Your social media goal would then be to create more awareness of your shop and drive more people to your location. Planning is important and always works better than random social media activities.
4. Identify the best networks to engage on
If you have been following this social media series, in the last post you will have read about the different types of social media and who should typically use them. You don’t want to spread yourself too thin by signing up for multiple social networks at once. You should refer back to our previous post and take time to understand some of the sites before deciding which ones are best for you.
Make a list of the social media sites you definitely expect to run your business on and ones that you need to do more research on.
Jeffrey Hayzlett looks at social media in an interesting way -
“Think of LinkedIn as a sign that you post on Main Street; Twitter, the view from your front porch as you wave when people go by; and Facebook as the den you use to invite special people to get to know you.”
You could use your personal account if you have one, to follow similar companies and watch how they use their accounts. You could also search for popular keywords in your field of practice to get a sense of how different companies interact with their audience. Do you think there’s value in engaging in conversations like these?
5. Build your follower base
You can do this by networking. Comment on other people’s posts, join in discussions, involve others in posts that you think they may enjoy, run online competitions. You can use your current clients to build your initial audience. For example, you could send an email out to your clients with a discount code if they follow you on a specific social media account.
Some further ideas to build your follow base are:
• Create inspiring content – make your audience feel something when they see your posts.
• Create a blog – they look great, it gives you something interesting to share, if you base the topic on your audience’s opinions, they will most likely engage with it. Also, blog posts can be found easily via Google search as Google favours websites with regularly updated content.
• Be patient – Don’t give up on your social media efforts if you aren’t getting early results or equally if you can’t keep up with the pace. Stick to the rule of thirds discussed in our last blog post, take a deep breath and relax. You’re doing your best.
6. Pick a social media management (SMM) tool
Using a SMM tool can save you a lot of time and help you get the most out of your social media marketing efforts. You should draw up a list of basic features that you expect to need from a tool and do some research to find which one suits you best! We use Hootsuite, and one of our favourite features is that it allows us to plan ahead! You may want to be able to publish content across all key social networks simultaneously, monitor brand mentions, understand your audience, create content and generate performance reports.
I listed 3 of the top social media management tools in the last post in this series - why not refer back to see the recommendations made? Remember that the most popular tools may not always be what’s best for your unique business, so make sure you do an independent evaluation before deciding which tool is best for your needs.
7. Monitor and measure
Monitoring and measuring are both critical to improving your social media performance and keeping on plan with your goals. But what exactly is it that you need to measure?
• Measure engagement, not follower count –
Although we’ve all, at one point, sat and looked at the number of followers we have and grinned smugly at the followers to following ratio, this is not the most important metric at first. You should be paying more attention to how people engage with your business. Do people respond to your content? What kind of reactions are your posts having? What kind of posts get the most engagement and how can you maximize these?
You will be experimenting at first, and that’s fine. Once you have found out what works most effectively for your audience, you can create an effective content plan.
• Basic communication skills –
Just like in any workplace setting, it is important to use your communication skills. You should listen to your audience and engage in conversation with them. This will build the number of engaged audience members.
• Monitor mentions –
You should be taking note of what people are saying about your business across social networks. Every interaction is an opportunity to engage with another potential client. You can create ‘listening’ columns in your SMM tool so that you can instantly engage with people who talk about your business and related topics.
You should acknowledge all positive mentions that you receive and encourage happy customers to talk about their experiences/leave a review. Maybe you could give them an incentive to do so. If you find unhappy posts about your business, you’ll probably feel little disappointed as this was not the reaction that was intended – you should use this as an opportunity to reach out to them and resolve the problem.
• Track industry and SM trends –
You should also use social media to keep track of current trends – staying ‘in’ with trendy topics can help you generate content ideas quickly.
Some ideas are the use of popular hashtags, for example #MondayMotivation, #FridayFeeling. You could comment on current popular topics with relation to your business and use the relevant hashtag to give yourself a platform. You could also for example, create a funky ‘Boomerang’ on Instagram of your colleagues to add a personal touch to your account. Or you could use gifs to illustrate your comment to a client even further. All these things are currently popular on social media and they help add a more ‘human’ side to your company.
Whilst the world of social media can be an overwhelming place for small businesses, it can also be an extremely exciting one, full of prospects and growth opportunities. It is important to get motivated and make yourself a game plan. If you feel like you may need some help or guidance throughout this journey, get in touch and see how we can take the pressure off you. Although social media is a free tool; it takes time and effort to build an engaged audience and a presence for your business. Once you get started you will begin to see a lot of immediate feedback due to the real-time nature of most social networks. Keep putting the effort into and you will reap the rewards eventually.