Stop Sweating Social Media, Part 2

by Patricia Fitzgerald

In part one of "Stop Sweating Social Media," we focused on ways small businesses with limited time and resources can ease into a social media routine. We also offered up some tips on which social media platforms to choose based on your business and customers. Now let’s turn our attention to the “what” you say, rather than the “where” you say it. The best advise we can give: Be authentic.

Crafting Your Content

As we mentioned in our last post, social media isn’t a good direct-marking strategy. It’s not the best way to generate leads. Nor is it the ideal method for driving sales. Keep this in mind when creating and posting your social media content.

Many small businesses make the mistake of using social media solely as a means to sell their stuff. Posting daily about your products and services (and nothing else) will likely turn customers off rather than drive them to your website, place of business, or the phone. Instead, think of your social media presence as an extension of your physical presence — and share what’s happening in your office, store or location.

Minimize those self-serving posts and balance them with authentic content about your customers, your employees, or your office mascot, Iggy the Iguana. Show them the human side of your business. Along with creating original content, share content from other credible sources that your customers might find interesting and valuable: articles, reports, memes, videos, photos, infographics. Use visuals as well as words to draw them in and keep them coming back.

Start a Conversation

Above all, be sure to interact with your visitors when they respond to you on social media. If someone comments on a post, comment back quickly and personally. If they raise a question, concern or complaint, address it right away. Ask them for their opinions and ideas. Invite them to take a brief survey. Get them to share photos and videos of themselves using your products. Don’t just post at them, engage with them.

Planning Ahead

Most social media experts will tell you to create a schedule of what, when and where you’ll be posting to various social media platforms you’re using. This makes total sense — if you have the time and resources to do it. Personally, since we do social medial on a small scale (as befitting our business and audience), we find planning a week or even just a few days ahead works for us.

Typically, we’ll plan one blog post for the week. We strategize topics for these posts about two to three weeks in advance, largely based on questions and inquiries we get from our clients as well as new marketing-related insights we glean from our own research.

In addition to weekly blog posts, we also create daily marketing-related and creative Facebook and Twitter posts. These we usually plan just a few days in advance, since many of these daily posts are inspired by emerging industry trends, current news, and events happening in the world. So, no, we don’t have any master social media calendar for the next six months. We’re not Nike, after all. We’re just a small creative firm looking to connect with the small-business community.

Make Friends

Speaking of connections, social media isn’t just about getting people to like and follow you. It’s also about liking and following others in order to expand your circle. Find the time to seek out those in your space who are doing interesting things on social media, and who reach similar customers. We’re not talking about competitors here, but those who complement your business. That could include other businesses, experts, online communities, bloggers, and folks with interesting things to say.

Follow them on their own social channels. Post thoughtful, respectful comments sans the self-promotion. Share their content on your own social media outlets. Invite them to be a guest blogger. Eventually, they may return the favor — bringing their followers, fans and customers with them.

Be Easy to Find

Make sure all that effort you’re putting into social media isn’t for naught. Promote your social media presence on your website, business cards, print advertising, direct mail, email signature — anywhere and everywhere prospective customers might see it. If you post on Facebook, invite your followers to check you out on Twitter and Instagram — or wherever else you might be in the social media sphere — and vice versa. Give your customers every opportunity to find and connect with you.

So What’s the Key Take-Away?

The bottom line is this: Yes, as a small business you probably should be using social media. But how you use it will determine what you see from your efforts. Used selectively and effectively, social media can help you build a community, a loyal following, awareness, credibility, and your reputation. All of which can attract new customers who buy your products and services — over time (we can’t stress that enough).

If the thought of social media still causes you stress, don’t sweat it. Talk to us about the right social media approach for you — one that makes sense for your business, customers, resources and time. It doesn’t have to be complicated, or expensive. And stay tuned for our next blog post, detailing specific strategies for creating a presence on today’s most common social media platforms.

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