Social media 101: Your small biz plan need not be overwhelming

Social media 101: Your small biz plan need not be overwhelming
by: Custom Toll Free , September 12, 2017

You’re not alone if your small company has yet to embrace social media tools.

In fact, a study this year found that 24 percent of small businesses in the U.S. still have no social media presence at all. Given the workload of small business owners, that’s not surprising; many are likely daunted by the prospect of forming strategy and/or hesitant to add further responsibilities to their work dockets.

That said, social media can be an excellent tool for engaging customers in ways that are more “soft-sell” than other forms of marketing. The methodology tends to build trust and foster long-term relationships with your audience, strengthening your presence as a brand. A significant 41 percent of small businesses engage with their followers via social media several times daily, and 50 percent plan to boost their investments in Twitter, Instagram and YouTube this year. Overall, the share of U.S. marketing budgets devoted to such marketing is expected to rise from an average 10 percent last year to 25 percent by 2021.

Social media strategy certainly takes forethought, but it need not be overwhelming. Consider these suggestions for getting started.

Set specific goals. Do you most need to reinforce your brand, drive viewers to your website, increase your email subscription list, learn more about your audiences, promote specific deals or products, recruit employees, counter negative publicity, drive foot traffic or all of the above? Challenge yourself to meet specific metrics.

Decide on venues. Different sites appeal to different demographics; for example, Facebook skews older, while Instagram skews younger (more defining characteristics are here). You may wish to start with just one or two venues until you get into the routine.

Establish profiles. Outline mission statements and customer personas for each presence so you can craft messages accordingly. Each website will walk you through the initial steps in terms of images and company information. Be sure to list your vanity phone number prominently for those choosing to call you directly.

– strong>Start crafting messages. Myriad guides can advise you what to post, but in general you should follow the “rule of thirds.” A third of your messages should build your brand via personal posts and responses, a third should promote your business and its bottom line and a third should provide visitors with useful information or opinions related to your industry. Try to become a source of trending news, always seeking audience commentary. When in doubt, note what competitors are doing, then aim for your own (better) versions.

Build followers. Ramp up by promoting your sites via your website, emails, blogs, business communications and printed business materials. Add Facebook Page Plugin or Twitter Embedded Timeline to your website or blog to make sharing effortless. Like and follow other profiles and share others’ content. Stage contests and giveaways. Consider paying for promoted posts.

Set aside time for upkeep. A report this year indicates that 64 percent of U.S. marketers spend six hours or more each week maintaining their social media presence. As a rule, you might post on Facebook three to 10 times weekly; Twitter five times daily; LinkedIn two to five times weekly and Pinterest five to 10 times daily.

Measure. Each venue should provide free metrics to gauge the responses you’re getting from audiences. Look at elements such as likes, retweets, reach, traffic, leads and conversion rates. Free tools like Facebook Insights and Google Analytics offer insight that you can use immediately to tweak the content and timing of your posts.

A memorable toll-free phone number posted on your social media presences can be highly effective in driving calls to your business. See Custom Toll Free about finding a number that aligns with your brand.

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