It’s tough building a social media following these days. It’s past the peak in many social sites where your target audience would follow just anyone so now you have to work twice as hard to attract and maintain a following. And this wouldn’t be so bad but many small businesses don’t see the relevance or need for social media. And while social media has leveled the playing field in the past, those large organizations certainly raise the bar in what they deliver! They don’t need to work as hard to attract an audience and they have full teams to create and deliver engaging content. How is a small business to compete? It’s not as difficult as you may think.
Choose your social media channels
Make sure you spend time where your target audience spends their time. Do a little research and don’t base your decision on your own assumptions. You should also think about what this target audience would want to see when you’re posting, e.g. behind the scenes at your event, info for a specific niche target (segment), friendly and casual chat, etc. If you’re a one man band I’d suggest starting with one or two channels and begin your social media habits. Build time into your daily schedule to participate on those channels – 15 minutes ought to do it.
Fill in your Profiles
Be fully present on social media. Don’t be afraid to state who you are, what you do, etc. Link to your website (some website traffic will filter through to your site from here) and complete your company description. Make sure your social media profiles are connected to your website in terms of looks and tone. And use your logo as your profile image. If you are the brand (YourName.com) choose an image of yourself that is recognizable when small. Make it tasteful.
What to Post
Post the content with your target audience in mind. A restaurant might post kitchen specials, coupons, pictures of their food, etc. A printing company might post blog posts on cost analysis, a slide share presentation on the impact of printing styles, images of recent printing projects, etc. Quotes are an easy thing to post, but limit this type as it’s not content unique to you and don’t link back to your website which all your content should.
Crop or resize images to fit the right size – search online for cheat sheets, there are tons. And write unique intro copy for every post and don’t just repeat the title or the first sentence or two. This is a great opportunity to draw attention to key content points and can help encourage clicks.
Engaging your audience is the sole reason for being on social media. It’s not for broadcasting, but sometimes it may feel like it. You should be responding and commenting if the opportunity exists. And as your audience grows you should be increasing your frequency of posts. You may start out posting on Facebook once a week, but eventually you could be posting every day if your audience size is over 500. For Twitter frequency is key, but repetitive posts could get you unfollowed. With LinkedIn and Google Plus it’s all about the communities when you start. Commenting on others’ posts will encourage them to check you out and do the same.
An excellent resource is Cana.com – a free software that helps you design really great images (for more than just social media)
Track your Visitor Flow
Set up your metrics (I use Google Analytics – GA) and monitor your flow of visitors coming from your social media sites. You can drill down on GA or your can use the metrics of each individual social media channel. I tend to watch both until I get a sense of it all. From here you will be able to tell what kinds of posts work on what channel. And if you’ve been posting the same kind of post every time – mix it up! For example, post a link with an auto image selected, upload a selected image with link added (image is usually larger and is the focus here), text only works best on some channels, etc. Most social media sites can tell you who your followers are so you can compare that against your initial guess or target. And this information changes over time so just because you had it figured out six months ago doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check in now and then to make sure it’s still true. Chart your numbers and posts.
Build a Strategy
This is key if you want something to come from all your time on social media. Building a strategy helps you align your social media actions to your small business goals and keep you focused. And this may be the shortest section in this post, but don’t mistake that for the least important. I’ll have to write another post on that soon – subscribe below to make sure you don’t miss it!