Any entrepreneur who’s been in business for more than ten minutes has heard about social media and its impact on small business success. And while many entrepreneurs are quick to jump on the social media bandwagon (over 50 million Facebook business pages so far), few truly understand what it’s for and how best to employ it.
So before you sign your business up for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Friendster accounts (kidding, Friendster isn’t really a thing anymore), you might want to read through our quick primer on social media for SMBs.
What can social media really do for my business?
Depending on how you leverage it, social media can accomplish far more than any traditional advertising methods like billboards or print ads.
Like any important business decision, you need to think things through before starting any serious social media campaign. Let’s use our 5 W’s as our guide:
1) Why are you on social media?
This should be a required question in any social media sign up page.
The internet is drowning in business social media accounts that have no idea why they’re online in the first place. As a result, their accounts are full of unfocused, inconsistent and seemingly random social media posts as their marketing fumbles for a strategy.
Do you want to grow an online community? Are you looking for more customers? Do you want to develop your online brand? Or are you just on it because everyone else is there?
As a small business owner, you won’t be able to afford a full-time social media person. By keeping your social media accounts tightly focused on one purpose, you’ll be able to more easily manage the account and will have an easier time coming up with content. You can always scale your social media strategy in accordance with your company growth.
2) Who will you be talking to?
Just as you define a buyer persona for your sales team, so should you decide on who your ideal social media audience should be. Ordinarily the buyer persona and the social media target should be the same. But you should also take into account what online groups or communities your social media targets participate in, and which you should join and immerse yourself in.
3) Where will you be signing up?
One common mistake I’ve seen entrepreneurs make is to sign up for five social media channels at once. This is the worst thing you could do, because there’s no chance at all of your being able to keep up with all of them, much create any real value from them.
Instead, focus on whichever social media your best customers are using right now. If you talk to teenagers on Instagram, then that’s where you should go. If you would much rather target B2B professionals on LinkedIn, then do so. But never juggle more than one.
4) What will you be posting?
Ah, content. The challenge faced by all brands in the digital space.
Let me just tell you now: if you’re going to put out cookie cutter content or glorified sales posts, you may as well just cancel your social media account right now. Modern audiences are too smart for that.
Today’s customers are willing to engage with brands on social media, but only if the brand’s content is:
It’s that last part–genuine–where many brands fall flat. Far too often corporate social media accounts turn into bland ad-generating machines. There is no personality in them; no life.
On social media, people value uniqueness and personality above all. Use this as an opportunity to show your (or your brand’s) quirky side. Insert some humor into your posts, or curate content that is genuinely interesting to you.
5) When will you be posting?
There’s no hard and fast rule for how often a brand should be posting on social media, or when. Different marketing gurus have done tests on which should be the ideal frequency, day of the week, and even time of day for posting your content. Results can vary widely depending on the audience and the industry.
I suggest you perform some experiments of your own to see which days of the week perform best for your unique audience. Once you’ve gathered enough data, you can then move on to the refinement stage, where you tweak your posting schedule based on the evidence.
Once you’ve answered these five questions, you’ll then be in a better position to officially launch your social media campaign. This preparation phase will already make you a cut above the rest in terms of having a coherent social media strategy.
How did the 5 W’s work for you? Has there been any improvement in your social media power?