For small business owners and entrepreneurs with limited marketing budgets, social media can be overwhelming. Where do you begin? Where are your peeps? And, really, who has the time? It’s enough to drive you to launching a half-hearted (translated: ineffective) social media strategy.
Here are 3 basic concepts to consider that will help you rock your social media:
Commit to carry it out. One of the key components to any social media strategy is the commitment to carry it out. I recommend you apply your social media plan wholeheartedly or not at all. Anything less is, essentially, a waste of time and money. A Twitter feed or Facebook page that has been noticeably neglected for weeks (or months) reflects poorly on your company; people most likely will not bother to return. If you lack the resources or the time to really work your plan, it may be better to postpone getting involved in social media until you’re able to dedicate a reasonable amount of time and attention to its success.
Creating a social media calendar will help you keep your commitment. If you plan to blog once a week, post to Facebook once a day, and interact on LinkedIn twice a week, write it on a calendar and cross it off when you’re done. This process helps you organize your thoughts and adds accountability.
Don’t spread yourself too thin. Once you’ve committed to carrying out a social media strategy, don’t try to be on every available platform there is. No one has time for that AND running the other aspects of their business! Start out with a single channel, perhaps Facebook or LinkedIn. Spend the time and energy necessary to determine if the outlet is a good fit for your company (30-60 days of full-on participation with relevant, valuable content is usually enough time to see if you’re getting the attention from potential clients that makes it worthwhile). If you gain no followers and receive no engagement after 90 days, perhaps the platform is just not right for your business. Next!! (Try Twitter or Pinterest.)
Once you have found one social media market that is effective for you, experiment with adding another. And, later, another. Gradually build up to 3 – 5 social media profiles that you can continue to maintain. If you start to feel overwhelmed, narrow your focus back down to the single most effective profile you’ve got going. Perhaps it’s Facebook. Concentrate on creating an absolutely stunning Page with a great cover photo and excellent content; remain in contact with your peeps on Facebook and encourage your followers from other venues (LinkedIn, Twitter, etc) to follow you there instead. The key point here is keeping your social media manageable, because if it’s not manageable, you won’t manage it. It’s better to have one social media hangout you take great care to maintain than a string of them you can’t keep up with.
Have a content “bank” ready before you begin. A good rule of thumb is to have 3-4 blog posts stored up before you go live with your blog. Customize the publication dates so they look a little spread out, rather than posted all on the same day (most blogging applications will allow you to change the “published” date of a post). First-time visitors will be able to get a good sense of the content you’ll be offering and it will “fill out” your blog page – rather than having a single, lonely post just sitting there. If your blog program has a feature that allows you to “push” your posts to social media, by all means, take advantage of that! (WordPress has a plugin called JetPack that includes a Publicize feature that pushes your posts to Facebook, Twitter and/or LinkedIn). Have a month’s worth of tweets and/or Facebook posts (depending on which profiles you’ve decided to establish and maintain) accumulated before you launch your social media campaign. Link your Facebook page to your Twitter feed if you’re doing both; you’ll only have to post in one place to populate both. Having all these arrangements in place will make for a much smoother launch.
When you feel like you’re ready to start, go for it! Remember that not ALL of your content needs to originate from your own brain (but always credit original creators!). Keep abreast of what’s current in your industry and post relevant articles you find on the web to Facebook and LinkedIn, retweet updates from influencers in your field, and post illustrated quotes on all your profiles periodically. Posting relevant, valuable content will make your online community sit up and take notice.
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If you’re a small business owner or entrepreneur and you have not yet launched a social media campaign, what do you feel is holding you back? If you ARE on social media, what helped you commit to making the leap?
Sound off in the comments below!