For small businesses, setting up and maintaining an active social media presence can be challenging.
Whether you are the business owner or a marketing professional working for an SME, it sometimes feels that priorities lie elsewhere. At the end of the day, accounting and invoicing are critical tasks to the survival of the business and you might have other marketing tools and activities (such as email marketing, Google Ads, etc.) set as the primary method of customer acquisition.
I accept playing the resources card.
Week by week I battle with the same challenge running Flockler and have social media as one of the many secondary tasks. Ironically, we help our clients achieving better results on social media channels but struggle with the same challenge as many of you; the marketing resources (time and money) are targeted to other activities.
I feel you.
Some of you might even say that “social media isn’t relevant to our business and customers.”
That I don’t buy.
With one billion+ active monthly users on Instagram (alone), social media is relevant to almost all businesses now.
Social media helps you to drive traffic on your website and convert them to leads. It helps you to create social media feeds and add social proof to your website, inspiring other customers to hit the buy button. It helps you to nurture potential leads buying your product and services. It helps you to reach out to Lookalike Audiences, made from people similar to your current customers.
Especially if you can serve a large geographical area, the benefits of social media are impeccable.
Surprisingly, potential customers getting in touch with us in live chat or via email often say their businesses don’t have a Facebook Page or any active social media channel. And I’m not talking about entrepreneurs flying their business solo; some of these organisations employ tens or even hundreds of people!
The chats with customers over the past months inspired us to summarise the 8 steps on how to get started with social media:
- Set goals for your social media presence
- Define metrics to track your performance
- Determine target audiences
- Select social media channels
- Set the tone of voice
- Create engaging content
- Plan a content calendar
- Display the social media content on your digital services
1. Set goals for your social media presence
Just like any other marketing activity, you should start the process by setting your goals. What’s the fundamental reason why you’d set up a social media presence? Here are some examples:
- Nurturing the relationship with existing customers
- Increasing brand awareness
- Traffic growth to your website
- Generating and nurturing leads
- Growing sales
As you might have noticed, the list moves from softer targets to very concrete ones; growing your sales.
I’m not planning to preach which one is right for your business and I don’t believe you expect me to do so. The nature of the products and services you provide will limit the options, and the choice depends on the other marketing activities you are running.
At Flockler, we use social media advertising to generate and nurture leads; the advertising tools help us to reach potential customers, and we serve them with the flow of educational content from the same blog you are reading at the moment.
2. Define the metrics to track your performance
Once you’ve set up your goals, make sure you know how to track (and report) your success. Social media channels provide their statistics regarding their engagement, as well as other stats like click through rates to your website. But, often it’s far more important to measure what happens beyond social media channels.
Let’s say you are driving traffic to your website and in addition to social media metrics, you’d like to report the numbers from your website to your boss. The typical metrics to analyse with Google Analytics (or similar analytics platform) include:
- Traffic volume: in addition to click-through rates from a piece of content, are there repeated visits from people who’ve visited through social media in the past?
- Bounce rate: compared to other traffic sources, do customers stay on your site longer or do they click the back button in the blink of an eye?
- Time spent on site and the number of page visits per session: do customers keep browsing your website and visit multiple pages?
- Conversions: are visitors from social media more likely to download your brochure, request you to contact them, or buy your products and services? Usually, customers continue browsing the site before converting, or come back later and convert, so it’s critical to make sure you measure assisted conversions too.
3. Determine target audiences
Here is a topic I love - and it's also an area that's so easy to get wrong when getting started.
Traditionally, marketing professionals have created content to serve a wide audience. The messages, by nature, and due to the channel used (e.g., radio advertising), have been very generic and have often copied the best practices and ideas of other companies.
Enter social media, and with social media advertising tools, you can serve your content to a very, very defined target audience. Depending on the average revenue per customer, you can create an unlimited volume and variation of ads - and edit them on the fly based on the performance.
How do you get started?
Why don’t you get started by interviewing some of your most loyal customers and then creating a target audience based on them? At the end of the day, you’d like to attract other people similar to your most profitable customers, and understanding your existing audience better will help in the process. One old school method is often better than a pack of new ones.
4. Select the social media channels
If you haven’t created any social media profiles yet, start with the most obvious one. If you are an owner of a local brick-and-mortar, Facebook is often the best choice. If your business is visual, say you run a craft shop, Instagram will definitely help you to showcase your products and reach out to new audiences.
Start with one or two key channels, as it’s easy to add more later. When getting started and before inviting customers to follow your profile, make sure you book time on creating the profile with a stunning cover image, adding basic information such as opening times and posting some inspirational content. The profile is like a window to your shop; would you step inside if there’s nothing on the display and opening times are missing?
5. Set the tone of voice
Another critical aspect is to define the tone of voice for your brand. Some brands like Innocent Drinks use humor which can be risky at times. Some keep it very official.
As a rule of thumb, you should pick a tone that resonates with your target audience but is also aligned with your company culture. The choice will influence how others view your business and it’s difficult (or at least strange) to change the tone often. The more target audiences and products, the more challenging setting the tone of voice gets.
6. Create engaging content
Engaging content? Sounds so silly to say this - but it indeed is your target to create content that engages, is useful and is shareable.
How do you decide what type of content to create? It all comes back to your target audience and understanding them. What are the reasons why they are using your product? What are the problems and challenges your product helps them to solve? What information did they find useful before signing up for your product? What type of content will help them to succeed and maintain as your customer?
I often find it easy to follow simple advice by The Fizzle podcast team and write the story to someone I know and imagine how my text can help that person to solve the issue. And don’t get me wrong, that person isn’t one of my friends, and I don’t need to know their life inside out. Often I pick one of our most loyal customers whose business I’m familiar with.
7. Plan a content calendar
Whether you are alone publishing content or have a team running it, a social media editorial calendar will save you time and resources. With a content calendar you can plan out a month’s worth of content in advance, and that will make sure your social channels are not left stranded when there is a busier season. It might seem like a yet another additional task but, trust me, you will thank me later!
8. Display the social media content on your digital services
Lastly, don’t forget to repurpose the social media content you’ve created and display the content on your digital services. With tools like Flockler, you can automatically save content from various channels and embed social media feeds on any digital services (websites, mobile apps, digital screens, etc.).
To mention a few reasons:
- Social media content displayed on sites increases the traffic and engagement on your social channels. The more engagement, the higher and more often your posts show in the user’s feed. Showcasing the content will increase the number of followers too.
- Inspirational content increases the time spent on site and for Google that's one of its algorithm's positive ranking factors. The more visitors spend time on your site (and the lower the bounce rate), the higher your page shows up in Google search results.
- User-generated content and reactions by your customers on social channels can be used as social proof on your site - and they will without a doubt increase conversion rates. We trust the opinions and reviews of other customers.
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