Walking into a small business with little or no social media presence has been a new and frightening experience for me as a new independent contractor. It has also been very exciting because I find that as I start to see the dim bulb of hope and faith a small business owner has in social media grow into a full-fledged ball of sunlight…it’s awesome. One of the key pieces I’m including in my pitch to small business folks is to update the classic sense of news delivery “give them the ‘five Ws’: who, what, when, where, and why because that’s all they really care about”. Fair enough. Small business owners, here is your concentrated information-shot:
Who? A social media plan is best drawn up by the decision-makers of the business together with a professional who knows the ins and outs of social media and how to hinge it from your marketing plan. It should then be implemented by the professional so that the business owner can get back to running a business. At some point in the campaign, however, a staffer or manager should be trained on how to take the wheel from the outside pro.
What? The effectiveness of social media campaigns should measure the brand’s reach, frequency of visits, conversations-to-conversions, the influence the brand has at snapshot points of the campaign, and the general sentiment that people have who are talking about the business. As for what tools to use and when, this varies by the business, but almost every business can find value in video and a basic blog.
When? Social media marketing is already developing so getting started with a campaign soon is key. Consultants can be very affordable and have you started in no time. Monitoring of your company online should be done at least on a weekly basis. Some platforms should be monitored daily for customer thoughts, ideas or testimonials. Keep in mind you are taking a big step towards your customers, and if there are a lot of them, you may have to get very good at listening or hiring someone who is.
Where? Social engagement by your business should be used everywhere your customers are and everywhere your competitors are. If you can’t afford to build your presence as big as your competitors, build it better. Use monitoring tools like Alterian SM2, Brandwatch, or Meteor Solutions to keep an eye on your company and others like it on the web. It’s ok if you can’t afford it right away, use Google Alerts and saved Twitter searches on keywords until the budget and/or the customer base is there. Odds are you already have email addresses for most of your customers, so a small Constant Contact or Mail Chimp email campaign is also affordable. Finally, make sure you are keeping up with blogs and publications relative to your industry and stay up on current trends.
Why? More engagement and monitoring mean more traffic, more traffic means more interest, more interest means more sales, more sales means more money. Ipso facto, more engagement means more money. It doesn’t have to be a greed thing, for a non-profit more money means more funding, for a charity, more money means more work on a cure or relief effort.
There you have it, a basic primer for small businesses to understand and a guide to understanding the need for social media tools in a nutshell. As always, I aim to please, so anything you’d like to add or ask please express it in the comments. Thank you!
P.S. None of the links in this email are affiliate links or intended to suggest one tool over another. Use at your own discretion. ~R