Tuesday, September 10, 2013

4 Things Small Businesses Must Understand About Social Marketing

Small Business Social Marketing

Social marketing is not just for big companies. It’s a practice – a discipline – any business, of any size, can jump into.

But that doesn’t mean all social marketing strategies are one-size-fits-all. For small businesses – typically resource-strapped and charged with carrying out many tasks at once – there are some very basic essentials that deserve particular attention.

As we put together The Small Business Social Marketing Workbook, we uncovered four essentials for boosting sales and customer engagement.

1. You Need to Know What You Want
Every company should set realistic goals for social. But if you’re a small business, where time and attention are stretched, not knowing what you want to get out of it can shut you down before you’ve even started.

Before you launch a Facebook campaign, or start tweeting incessantly, ask a simple question: What are the key objectives I want to accomplish?

Do you want to boost engagement for your in-store promotions? Are you out to build a bigger base of fans or drive up subscriptions for your email newsletter?

Take the time to figure out the two or three most important goals, and jot these down. They’ll help determine when something is working or if it’s time to change direction.

2. Figure Out Where Your Best Customer Is
Chances are you can easily picture your best customer. They’re the type to visit your store or site again and again. You can cite the age range, the location, maybe even the income level.

Now, can you name the social network most likely to draw in this ideal customer?

Understanding the various demographic – and geographic – pulls of different social networks will help you focus your efforts in the right place. This could be determined by size (Facebook is huge), location (Twitter does particularly well in urban centers), age and gender (Pinterest is particularly strong with women), or your product (Instagram naturally makes sense for snap-happy foodies).

Take the time to investigate which networks where your best customers congregate. It may be more than one, but fight the urge to be everywhere all at once.

3. Know the Difference Between Social Ads and Social Campaigns
In an older age of media, you simply paid to have an ad slapped onto a newspaper page or in between TV segments. But with social media paid, earned and owned media are converging.

That means small businesses need to know social marketing means more than purchasing ads on Facebook and Twitter. You need to build and engage your audience, keeping them active and connecting to their peers to make your ads successful.

Social campaigns are the best way to do this. A social ad is a paid placement for your copy, tweets or posts. A social campaign is where you make a coupon or offer available for fans or for sharing your content; it’s concepts like photo contests, caption contests and video contests where users create the content themselves; and it can involve hashtags, which integrate your campaigns across social networks and even across various marketing channels.

Social ads and social campaigns work well together. But it’s important to know the difference between them. 

4. Make Social a Part of Your Week
The last essential for small business is perhaps the simplest, but hardest to carry out. You need to make social marketing a regular part of your week.

This doesn’t require blowing up your week. It’s about fitting in the various tasks required for sustained social success in a natural way. It could involve 30 minutes coming up with campaigns one day and another 30 minutes analyzing results the next. When and where is not as important as making an actual schedule. Because if you simply wait until you have a free moment, you’ll quickly fall behind. And nothing is less fulfilling than an out-of-date social account.

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