Social media offers infinite opportunities to interact with existing and potential customers, build your brand and promote your company’s offerings to the world. However, the vastness of social media also makes it possible that your posts will disappear into cyberspace without causing the impact you imagined.
Like any other business undertaking, making social media work for you requires planning, hard work and fine-tuning along the way. Learning the best practices and common pitfalls of all the available sites takes time, as does creating content, posting, monitoring comments and tracking results.
As a small business owner, you know that time costs money. Here are a few tips to help you embrace social media wisely and ensure a healthy return on your investment.
1. Avoid using too many sites. Only use as many social media sites as you have time to develop. Having accounts for Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube will only help your business if you have the time to develop meaningful, site-specific content for each.
Although the capability exists to link sites, say Facebook to Twitter, and have one post appear on both sites, using this strategy has a few drawbacks. One downside is that you will discourage customers from interacting with all of your accounts. Another is that your posts may not translate correctly from one platform to another. For example, Facebook posts longer than 140 characters will get cut off by Twitter.
Avoid this problem by making sure the content you post fits the site to which you’re posting.
2. Don’t focus on the number of followers you have. Instead, focus on the level of engagement. Having 50 engaged Facebook fans who comment and like your status updates is better than having 100 fans who never interact with your page. Engaged users are more likely to support your company or buy your products.
To engage people, ask questions and respond to comments. Post pictures. People enjoy seeing photographs and are likely to share them, making your social media efforts that much more visible. Share content that your users will enjoy, such as industry news or relevant tips, and not just information about your products or services. Also, remember the social in social media. Comment on other pages and share other people’s content. Engaging with other people makes them more likely to comment on your pages.
3. You don’t have a social media strategy. Creating a written social media strategy is as important as having a business plan. A sound strategy will increase the likelihood that your efforts will meet success.
Your social media strategy should lay out which sites you’ll use and establish goals for what types of content will appear on each. For example, the plan might outline what percentage of posts will demonstrate your services, versus your industry expertise, company culture and fun side. Your plan might also detail how you’ll handle negative comments and specify the voice or tone you use when posting.
4. You don’t track statistics. Take time out every week or month to analyze the statistics from your various social media sites. What time of day are your customers most active? What types of posts show the highest levels of engagement? Zeroing in on these key statistics and using them to shape your overall social media strategy will make your efforts will make your efforts that much more successful.