As with anything, it’s best to have a plan before you get started and that’s equally true of marketing with social media for small or local businesses. Otherwise you will find yourself overwhelmed and wondering if you’re just wasting your time.
1. Define your objectives or goals
Why are you getting involved in social media? There are plenty of good reasons, just make sure you define them. Are you looking to build a following nationally, regionally, locally? Is this social media strategy a way to bring visitors to your website? Do you have a movement that you’re trying to perpetuate? Or are you seeking sponsors for your cause or business? Define a handful of goals first.
10 Steps To Take Before Marketing With Social Media
2. Identify metrics
In order to track ROI or return on investment, you need to track data. Create a simple Excel spreadsheet with various metrics that let you see if your efforts are increasing engagement. Decide which day every month you will log data and stick to it. Plan to keep this up for at least a year to get relevant results, and tweak your strategy at least every quarter if needed. Social media for small business is not an overnight success deal. Marketing with social media is a strategy that needs time to develop.
You may want to track simple metrics such as number of Likes or Followers, Fans, Reach, Re-pins or Retweets. You can convert data into percentages of increase or decrease if the visual helps you understand your efforts. Give a look at which post, tweet or pin got the most engagement and repeat this type of sharing again. Don’t be surprised if it’s different for every social media platform. This is why social media management can take time and effort and isn’t a quick marketing strategy.
3. Set up a Google Account
Create a Google account for the business including a gmail address to use when creating accounts at other websites. You need a Google account to create a YouTube channel anyway which you’ll want to have eventually. To leverage Google Plus or Places you’ll need one too, so get it over with and make a company account. Then set up Google Alerts. Alerts is a free service that Google offers where they email you every time your “words” have been used online. You’ll want to monitor your company name, brand names specific to your company, individuals related to the business and any words that make sense to get a heads up about. This will let you see who and where they’re talking about you. There are other great Google products you will probably end up playing around with ultimately but start with Alerts.
4. Reserve vanity URLs
Do some homework and be consistent when reserving your vanity urls. A vanity URL is the name of your company’s page on any social media site. For example if your company is XYZ Corp, at Facebook you ideally want www.facebook.com/XYZcorp. Try and find a vanity name you can use everywhere. If your company name is taken on Facebook but not Twitter, try not to mix and match. That’s where the homework comes in. Try out your ideal vanity name at all the top social media sites and see if it’s available and adjust as necessary.
5. Secure Usernames and Passwords
Save usernames and passwords in a secure place and make sure key staffers have access to the master list. Don’t allow social media accounts to be attached to one or various employees personal accounts.
6. Your Logo
If you need to, create a square version of your company logo that is legible and conforms to your branding. Square is the shape of all avatars online so if your logo is rectangular, it won’t look right in avatar form. Don’t allow the square to get too “busy”. Marketing with social media means that people may come and go quickly and you want them to “know” you in a glance. Use an easily identifiable portion of your logo or first initial of your company or an acronym. Anything that will make it easier for visitors to identify your business online.
7. Learn HTML
Learn a little basic HTML. HTML is the programming language that all websites are converted to so that we can read them on the Interwebs. Knowing basic HTML will let you make bold, italic, and underlined text online, even on social media sites and in email newsletters. Don’t worry, it’s easy, just learn it.
8. Analyze the competition
Find and follow competitors to analyze those that are doing well marketing for social media in the platforms you’re interested in. No need to reinvent the wheel when you can apply best practices from the competition. Saves you time and let’s you know what the competition is up to.
9. Create a simple Media Policy
Even if you are a solopreneur, you should create a media policy. Having a media policy allows for a unified voice and practices when marketing for social media across all platforms by all employees. Decide on the “voice” of your company, what is appropriate content, privacy or legal issues, how to handle customer service issues or media issues. Get everyone (or future staff) on the same page from the beginning and there will be far fewer headaches moving forward.
10. Get Executive Staff behind the effort.
If you are the Execute on staff, then you already buy in. But if you’re developing a social media strategy for small business marketing, make sure every executive is behind the effort. You need a cohesive vision and strategy that comes from the top down and includes everyone in the business. It will make the entire marketing with social media effort easier and more successful.
As far as small business ideas go – marketing with social media can be a winner if you plan ahead.
marketing with social media