According to the 2012 Social Media Marketing Industry Report “How Marketers Are Using Social Media to Grow Their Businesses”, survey respondents ranked generating more business exposure as the number one benefit of social media marketing, followed by increasing traffic and providing marketplace insight. If those goals mesh with the ones you have for your small business, it’s time to build a social media strategy that can accomplish them.
Social media can help to establish your brand and raise awareness among consumers. The top five social media networks/tools for marketers reported by the survey are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs and YouTube. As you develop your social media strategy, there are a number of steps to keep in mind.
1. Identify your goals.
What do you want to get out of social media? Besides the immediate goals of building a following by engaging users, there are long-term goals like improving branding, building a database and increasing sales.
2. Remain in the conversation.
Committing your business to a social media marketing plan requires investing both time and resources. The report cited above notes that 59 percent of marketers are using social media for six hours or more each week, and 33 percent are expending 11 or more hours weekly. To build relationships and spread your brand, you must get and remain engaged with your followers.
3. Create a content plan.
Give thought to the content you’ll be posting, including tone, message and frequency. Be sensitive and don’t go overboard on the number of posts you create; there is a fine line between marketing your small business and overloading your followers with messages.
4. Utilize tactics that building a following quickly.
One of the most common and popular is the free giveaway. Getting something for simply “liking” or “following” your business is appealing to many consumers. And the free giveaway can be worked into your advertising in other media outlets, too.
5. Analyze your results.
As your social media presence gets established, you should start seeing increased traffic to your website. It may be difficult to gauge how much is a result of your social media efforts and how much is coming from your other advertising avenues. Using an analytics program can make it easier to determine which efforts have been successful and which need tweaking. Web analytics measure, collect, analyze and report Internet data for purposes of understanding and optimizing web usage — and they can save you time and money, so don’t overlook this important step!
As the survey makes clear, it takes time to develop relationships that lead to sales — but a large percentage of marketers who take the time get great results, according to the Social Media Marketing Industry Report. For example, it reports that more than half (51.5 percent) of small business owners were more likely to see improved sales from social media.
Will social media marketing work for your small business? You won’t know until you try it!
Sarah Levy is a freelance writing currently working with Merchant Express. Sarah enjoys writing about many diverse topics – everything from credit card processing to social media.