Social media marketing has gone from an option to a key component for startups and small businesses as they are capitalizing on the power of social platforms for their businesses like never before.
Social media marketing helps to reach and engage target audiences and customers across different networks that will drive sales and encourage brand loyalty. Your clients and potential clients are all out there on social media waiting to hear from your company.
Before you take the plunge into social media marketing and sign up for Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google Plus, StumbleUpon, Pinterest, Reddit or any number of social networks out there, here are some tips to maximize the effectiveness of your social media marketing:
- Don’t be intimidated: How many times have you thought about creating a business page for your company on Facebook but thought to yourself, “I don’t have the time or know how to get started or what to say.” As you have already realized, social media marketing has been proven to be one of the best ways to market your business, so you need to take a leap of faith and get social! There are a ton of articles and self-help guides that explain the ins and outs of each network and the etiquettes that govern each social community. Do some research and if you’re a social media newbie, try creating a personal profile on a network you are considering starting a business page on to familiarize yourself with the network before creating a business page.
- Do some research: Before deciding what social networks to join, do some research on your target audience to make sure you’ll find them on social media. Start by defining your target audience, ask yourself questions such as: what am I selling and what makes it unique? Who would want to buy this product? Why would someone want to buy this product or service from you? Figure out not only who has a need for your product or service, but also who is most likely to buy. Consider demographics such as age, location, gender, income, education, marital or family status, occupation, ethnic background and so on. Once you answer these questions you will have a profile of who your target audience is. To make sure you are reaching your target audience on social media, start by researching the social networks your target audiences are using and create business pages on these networks. Encourage your target audience to follow you by adding social media links and icons to your website and all print materials.
- Set goals: Always have goals in mind before you start marketing your business on social media. Any business or communications plan is centered around SMART(specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time-bound) goals. In order to measure success, your goals need to be as clearly defined as possible; make sure to align your communication goals with your business goals – your communication goals are there to support your broader business goals so make sure to keep this in mind.
- Make time everyday: One of the most important aspects of social media marketing to keep in mind is frequency of posting and activity. Set aside 10-15 minutes every day to update your pages and interact with your fans and followers. You may also want to take advantage of social media scheduling tools like Hootsuite.com to schedule posts in advance, this program allows you to manage multiple social networks, schedule posts, messages and tweets, track brand mentions, and analyze your social media traffic.
- Engage: Don’t fall into the trap of using your social networks just to post your business news – social networks are two way streets that encourage feedback and dialogue. With this in mind, share valuable, educational, and engaging content and inspire dialogue by asking questions, reposting or retweeting content, and sharing articles written by others.
- Let your light shine through: Most people managing business pages on social networks tend to forget that it’s ok to show some personality – what makes social media so powerful is that it allows you to connect on a personal level with people and you don’t want your brand personality to be too rigid. Cultivate your brand’s voice on social media and let your uniqueness shine!
- Measure: Like any offline campaign or initiative, you need to measure your results to determine how successful you were, and what you can improve on. Evaluate your social media marketing activity by measuring things like the number of fans/followers/likes/comments you have received across your networks, website visits, and track increases in leads and sales.