Making the most of Social Media
One of the best pieces of advice to take on board if you are an SME is, smaller businesses don’t have the capacity to use multiple Social Media sites for business well, so it’s important to focus on using only one or two and learning to use them well. Pick the ones your target market are using.
You see, different social media appeals to different audiences. LinkedIn, for instance, is the biggest network of business professionals; Google+ (so far) is mostly used by young male students and geeks; Pinterest users are mainly women. Both Facebook and Twitter have a much more equally divided gender base of users, although Twitter has a much higher percentage of college users.
So you need to pick the “right” social media for your business and find out which ones your target market is using.
One way to find out which social media your customers and/or potential customers are using is to ask them. It’s easy enough to create a little survey that you can use in your store and wherever your customers hang out to collect some data. If your website gets a fair bit of traffic, you can set one up online. SurveyMonkey is an example of a tool you can use to create web-based surveys. Entice people to participate with a prize draw or other tangible benefits.
Another is to use mail plug-ins to find out what social media your customers use. If you’re using Gmail, Rapportive lets you see just what your contacts are doing on their social networks right in your Inbox. If you’re using Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Outlook Connector is a similar program. Xobni offers plugins and phone apps for Gmail, Outlook, Android, BlackBerry, and iPhone that let you get updates from LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter among other things.
2. Set your social media goals
Now that you’ve decided which social media you’re going to use, you need to decide what your purpose is for being there. For business, social media can be used for the same purposes as any other marketing channel; it’s how the goal is pursued that’s different; not the goal itself. You can, for instance, use social media to:
- increase your referrals or leads
- build your word-of-mouth
- increase product sales
- become known as an expert or thought-leader
- drive traffic to your website or blog
- develop new products or services
- provide customer service
In other words, you can use social media to pursue and achieve any traditional business goal you can think of. The trick is to make sure you have chosen a goal that you can measure. one or two goals are enough. You need to be focused so you are able to consistently execute your social media strategy. Other goals/good things may happen incidentally, but races are not won by people meandering around. Getting 1000’s of Facebook likes for example is not necessarily a good thing unless a high proportion of those people are purchasing something from you.
3. Measuring the success of your social media plan
This is a step that small business owners often leave out when they’re trying to create a social media plan, but it’s one of the most important. Generally, social media success has to be measured by the same yardstick as any other marketing effort; cost and Return on Investment (ROI). That’s why it’s so critical that you have chosen social media goals that you can measure. To make measuring your social media ROI easier, we advise every small business to have a website. (Having a business website also gives your social media followers a destination; in a sense, it operates as a portal for your business.)
Once you have a website (or sites), you can use Google Analytics, a free tool that lets you track and analyze various website, mobile and social media application data. Using the goals feature in Google Analytics makes it simple to see if and how your site engagement goals are being met, for instance.
4. Setting your budget for your social media plan
A recent study found that 75% of businesses spend £10,000 or less on social media, with most businesses solely investing people’s time toward the effort . Make no mistake about this; there are no freebies when it comes to social media for business. If you’re going to develop a social media presence for your small business, you will spend money to have someone else do it or you will spend money to have you do it. Even if you think you’re doing it for free because using Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest is free and there are all manner of free tools out there to make using social media easier and/or better, you’re not, because your time is worth money, too.
Most small business owners are not spending anywhere near what they should be spending on marketing and social media campaigns!