Jumpstart Your Social Media Strategy and Separate Yourself From the ClutterThese bestselling authors can help you get your small business platforms running on all cylinders.
It’s one thing to create content for social media platforms, but it takes special skills for it to be consumed by customers and converted into sales.
Stephanie Abrams and Courtney Spritzer know how to navigate social media confusion and help small business owners convert followers into loyal customers. Abrams and Spritzer, founders of New York City-based social media marketing agency SocialFly, recently wrote the book, “Like, Love, Follow. The Entreprenista’s Guide to Using Social Media to Grow Your Business.”
Their tips will help you stand out from your competition by being more attuned to your audience and crafting thoughtful, dynamic content.
Create a strategy
It’s not the time you put into social media, it’s a smart strategy that gets results.
First, make sure you’re not spreading your brand too thin. Determine which platforms your customers are using: Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter or some combination. Then, streamline your time by focusing your efforts on these specific platforms.
“While you probably have a good idea of your customer, do you know who your Facebook customer is as opposed to your Twitter or Pinterest customers?” Spritzer said. “You may discover that funny memes and GIFs work really well on Instagram, but not on Facebook. This could be because your audience on Instagram is a younger crowd.”
Establish measurable goals
One of the reasons many small businesses often don’t see business results from their social media efforts is because they didn’t take time to set goals and study metrics to evaluate success.
Are you looking for more in-store traffic? E-commerce sales? Traffic to your blog or website? Increasing your social media reach, for example, is a great goal. But what’s your benchmark for success? Is it 40 followers? Or 400 followers?
Abrams said it’s important to keep your goals challenging, but realistic. She also suggested keeping track of your social media performance.
The trick is to identify which metrics are relevant – and to analyze exactly what the data means. You can find metrics, tools and services online to help you make sense of your business’s social data.
Keep your competitors close
When it comes to social media, your competition can tell you a lot about what works and what doesn’t. Start by picking out three of your top competitors. Research which social networks they’re active on, study their content and learn from their mistakes. Are they funny? Too serious? Thought provoking? Do they use cultural references? Carefully observe their strategies and then set yourself apart.
Spritzer said originality and authenticity in social media posts will set you apart from your competition. “If all you are doing is sharing content, advice and the same type of photos as your competitors, what will make someone want to follow you?”
Listen to your customers
“Good social media etiquette involves being generous and listening to and engaging with others,” Abrams said.
While you may be pushing information out through social media, to truly understand your customers, small businesses need to start by taking information in. Whether customers are talking about specific service problems or having broader conversations about products and services, organizations that take the time to listen can learn from customer sentiments and identify areas to improve upon.
Abrams said it’s important for business owners to not only pay attention to what fans and customers are commenting on, but also not to be afraid to speak with people within their network, such as business connections, friends and family, about what they’d like to see more of on your social channels.
Optimize your profiles
“Making small tweaks to your profile will help your customers see the uniqueness and personality of your brand,” Abrams said.
For starters, take a few minutes and optimize your profile photo and your cover photos by ensuring that photos fall within the dimensions recommended for each specific network. Use cover photos to showcase a new product or one that tells your brand story. Your business’s profile photo should be kept consistent across all platforms.
It is also important for small business owners to “cross link” between social media accounts. Your Facebook audience should be able to easily navigate go to your Instagram account or your Pinterest page and so on. Keep your bio unique, precise and SEO descriptive with relevant keywords. Be sure to include your URL and even your general location to help customers recognize your brand and your business’s general location.
Create a compelling content calendar
Stop posting content on a whim. It’s not just about posting frequently, but taking the time to decide what is relevant, meaningful and worthwhile to your audience.
“If you have a plan for promotions, sales and the types of content you’ll be sharing each quarter, it will keep you more organized, but it will also prevent you from making knee-jerk reactions,” Abrams said.
Just because one post generates little engagement, it doesn’t mean that your entire strategy isn’t working. Stick to your overall schedule and make small tweaks based on results you’re observing on a month-to-month basis.