How to Launch Your Social Media Efforts
We recently covered what social media platforms local businesses should consider using. Now we're discussing how you use them. Here are the best practices:
Complete all of your profiles
Fill out all relevant online profiles -- not doing this is the fastest way to send buyers to your competitors. The best way to keep track of all your profiles is to use a tool that tracks all of your business listings, such as Dex One's Reputation Management product. Log in to all social media accounts -- for example, Facebook, DexKnows, Yelp -- and make sure your profiles are complete. They should include:
- Business name, address, telephone numbers and fax numbers, professional email address
- Web and blog addresses, Facebook profile link, Twitter handle, YouTube channel link, Pinterest link
- Type of business, areas of expertise, industry, size of your company, your name and title
- Write a brief biography of 150 characters or less and save it to a Word file on your desktop. Now you’re ready to copy and paste a basic bio whenever a business profile asks for one.
- Have a photo you've chosen to represent your business -- it can be of you, your product or your logo. Use it for all social medial outlets.
Plan realistic social media goals
Create goals for your social media campaign. Keep the SMART acronym in mind. Goals should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. For example, you might set a goal of earning 100 five-star reviews on Yelp this year. Broken into achievable chunks, that’s about eight per month or two per week. Other goals could include:
- Statistical: Specific number of fans and followers, number of times your video was viewed, number of times your links on Twitter were clicked, traffic to your blog or website.
- Conversion: Number of times social media connections generate a sale.
- Thought leadership: Specific number of likes to your Facebook posts, number of times your blog post was re-tweeted by Twitter followers or pinned by Pinterest users, number of times your readers comment on blog posts you’ve written.
Set a time commitment
If you’re not Nike or Coca-Cola and you don’t have a multimillion-dollar marketing budget, social media is a relatively cheap way to build a following. It does take some time. If feasible, plan to spend 15 to 30 minutes per day steadily building your base with timely, useful and relevant information. If that's not possible, determine a schedule that will work for you -- maybe three times a week. Growing your audience may go slower, but at least your followers will know they can regularly expect to hear from you. Setting a schedule will decrease the chances that you push the task off. Decide which social platforms would most benefit you and concentrate your efforts on those -- our overview of social media platforms should help you decide. Setting aside a specific amount of time may also help you from committing too much time to social media. It's a useful tool, but you need to keep it from becoming a distraction.
Create a schedule (also called an “editorial calendar”)
Social media just looks spontaneous. The best campaigns are planned and executed on a schedule. Pinpoint holidays and seasons important to your business. Determine how much time in advance you need to make a push for your product in conjunction with those days. Posting last-minute holiday ideas can be helpful to those still on the hunt, but holiday-appropriate posts that start well in advance will be even more helpful to your customers -- and you. Have at least a loose idea of what you want to post. For example, a gourmet shop might want to post 14 days of Valentine's gift ideas leading up to Feb. 14.
Tips & Warnings
- Keep posts lean. People skim when they read online. If you make the skimming too challenging, they’ll click elsewhere.
- Always ask permission to post photos of employees, customers and job sites. Blur address and license plate numbers on images when posting photos from private events or homes. Maintaining your customers’ privacy is important.
- Posting too much can cause followers and friends to hide your posts or unfollow you. Be considerate of followers’ time when on social media channels.
- Videos shared on YouTube work well for businesses that execute projects with a strong visual element.
- Tamp down the urge to post “Buy! Buy! Buy!” messages. Messages should be relevant to your followers and valuable.
So remember: Social media is about developing -- and keeping -- great relationships. The key is to share information that’s relevant to your target audience, provides value and leads to an action or sale.
About the Author
Leading business experts, marketing professionals and digital marketers offer their advice on latest industry trends and strategies to help you grow your business.