There’s a lot to be said for a successful social media strategy. Social media is an extension of many parts of your business – such as customer service, branding, sales and after care – so it pays to do it right.
If you’re not convinced, consider this. Research shows that consumers are 71% more likely to buy a product or service after a positive social media experience. The number of social media users in 2018 is now 3.196 billion, up 13% year-on-year, and the majority of social media users log into their accounts at least once per day.
It’s powerful stuff.
And yet, an overwhelming amount of small and medium-sized businesses still don’t have a dedicated social media resource. According to Tony Restell, founder of Social Hire, a social media marketing agency for small business owners, many businesses employing less than 70-80 people generally don’t have a dedicated social media marketing role.
“Many SMEs lack a strong social media presence because they don’t have the skills and resources to manage an effective social media strategy,” Tony said. “It’s a big investment. It needs a lot of resource and time to do it right and to get return on investment.”
Tony walked us through four key steps that every small business should follow to build a strong social media business strategy:
1) Be clear about your audience.
First establish who you want to communicate with. Are you selling direct to consumers or to other businesses? Clients or members? New or existing contacts? Discount-hunters or loyal customers? Then, think about your end game. What do you want to get out of social media? We’re not talking overnight sales – rather, think about where you want to be 6-12 months from now.
For instance, do you want to build website enquiries, sales, newsletter sign-ups, or online conversions? Do you plan to use social media to raise awareness of a new product? Or purely as a customer service and retention tool?
All of these decisions will influence the way in which you communicate with your audience on social media and who to connect with, so it’s important to be clear about what you want to achieve before jumping in.
2) Think about your messages and content.
You wouldn’t interact with a potential customer or investor without thinking carefully about what you want to say and how you phrase it. The same goes with social media.
Everything you say has the potential to be made public, and absolutely anyone could be reading it.
Again, it comes back to your audience and how best you can serve them. For instance if you want to increase website visits, don’t just send prospects to your homepage. Be helpful. If they’re looking for a specific product or advice, send them to a relevant web landing page or a blog entry that helps them.
3) How do you increase your social media followership?
Every week, Tony recommends investing time to “get out there”. Block time out in your diary or commit to a few hours per week, following new accounts, thanking others for following you, sharing and ‘liking’ interesting posts, and generally interacting with your contacts. Be consistent, and follow up promptly with questions or messages.
Tony urges business owners to resist the temptation to get complacent or to push for sales. “Social media is not about the hard sell. It’s about talking to people and engaging with them, which in turn adds to your sales funnel and can lead to increased traffic and conversions.”
Interacting with others is a surefire way to grow your followership, and other people will be seeking to do the same, too. To attract their attention and engage their interest, it helps to use strong visuals in your social media activity. Create your own tailored infographics and banner images to differentiate your brand, and mix in other visual content such as photos and videos.
4) Engage with influential people.
Get noticed by influential people and businesses. Focus on those that you want to reach – such as local journalists or councils – providing they hold a good authority in your industry and are relevant to your cause. Narrow it down and focus on a core selection of influencers. Then engage directly with them by sharing their posts and adding valuable comments.
They key is to get noticed and win them over. Encourage them to interact with you publicly (without nagging or coming across as needy) and ultimately to share your own content. Why is this important? Take Social Hire as an example. The company has tens of thousands of followers across 6 social media channels, and each month they are seen by up to 1million people, simply because their posts are retweeted and shared by others with a similarly large following.
Bonus Tip: Play the Long Game
Analyze your efforts to keep track of performance, and work on a long-term social media strategy.
“The sooner you get onto social media, the better,” added Tony. “Success doesn’t happen overnight – it’s a long, steady process. You need to chip away at it for months, building a good core of connections and investing time interacting, engaging and helping your connections.
“There are ways to accelerate your social media presence, for example through sponsored advertising, but you should always think long-term and aim to build your core audience organically.”
Find out more about Social Hire online at www.social-hire.com.