Social media has effectively become the newest jungle gym in the world of marketing and advertising. Gone are the days in which businesses scooped out thousands of dollars of their budget in hopes of their highway billboard driving traffic.
In the marketing world, we commonly discuss the importance of narrowing down where our target audience lives. Although this rhetoric remains relevant, new technologies have forced us to question where our target audience plays. Hence, cue the jungle gym of social media.
Not only do consumers live in this rather-large niche, but they also play in it; there’s a reason the engagement rates are so high in spaces like Instagram. People of all demographics spend hours scrolling through the museum of content these platforms offer. One minute they are reading a news update; the next, they are commenting on their sister’s puppy pictures; the next, they are purchasing your product. Accidently abstaining from social media activity will practically declare your irrelevance to a younger crowd even if intentions are good.
Work with what you’ve got.
If you already have some social media accounts up and running, you most likely have access to insightful data that can guide future decisions. Through the backend of Instagram and Facebook business accounts, owners can see their viewers’ demographics.
This data will display your existing audience even without having put any strategic effort into maximizing your socials. Regardless of how large or small your current following is, these numbers will be crucial in the evaluation process. To measure your future social media strategy’s effectiveness, you’re going to need a beginning benchmark.
This step is an excellent time to set goals. Although some obvious ones may be to increase following and engagement, brainstorm goals regarding your entire business, then think about how social media could help you get there.
For example, say you are an IT services company, and one of your goals is to increase your number of clients for next year. You would use various promotion vehicles on these platforms to aid in this goal.
For example, say you are an event planning company, and one of your goals is to increase attendance at next year’s summit. Although attendance may not seem directly related to social media, there are various promotion vehicles on these platforms to aid in this goal.
Decide on branding.
In today’s digital era, aesthetics is everything. As younger generations gain market share of the business world, the stakes of social media aesthetics rise. Posting a few selfies at your storefront may not have the impact it used to in the early years of Instagram.
If you can afford it, hire a freelancer to get the ball rolling on this front. These freelance social media coordinators and designers know the industry’s expectations and tactics to wow consumers. Only producing pretty pictures is mainstream; a unique strategy that engages all viewers is innovative.
If you cannot afford a designer, have no fear. Learning by example may be one of the oldest tricks in the book, but it still proves useful in the social media realm. Browse through some accounts in similar industries to find best-in-class examples and others you dislike. Keep in mind this is just a basepoint; copying another account’s social strategy will cause greater harm than good.
This is a good place to begin brainstorming the content you are interested in producing. Do you want your account to generally show faces and voices or product photos and graphics? Do you want your account to be text-heavy or simple and to-the-point? Consider your company’s mission as well as your audiences’ preferences in this decision.
Create a content calendar.
A content calendar is one of the critical components in making a social media strategy. It is a publishing schedule that lists out when and where each piece of content will be posted for the upcoming month or so. Included on the calendar may be Instagram stories, Facebook posts, LinkedIn article shares, Tweets, etc. Ample time should be reserved to plan out a content calendar so that your business does not start posting impulsively or arbitrarily.
Content calendars can be a great tool to ensure posts are consistent both in timing and content. For example, a small-batch salsa company like Happy Tomato may post a new recipe, a client testimonial, and a community outreach photo once a week throughout June.
Content calendars are not permanent. If the June strategy is not resonating with your followers, you can discreetly make changes for July. As long as your content stays on-brand, your followers will welcome fresh ideas.
Use a simple spreadsheet program like Google Sheets or Excel for this task. These allow you to collaborate with your team through sharing properties and are user-friendly for those attempting to avoid tech. List each medium employed (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc.), the post’s date, the content, images involved, tags, description, URL links, etc.
With a content calendar, the organization of your digital jungle gym gets a bit easier to manage.
Optimize all digital presence with SEO.
After brainstorming some relevant, quality content, it’s time to beef it up with Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SEO includes implementing tactics to get your website to rank higher in Google and posts to rank higher on social media platforms. An SEO service agency can aid in developing your business’ strategy.
Keywords are an essential part of on-site (or in-post) content optimization that every small business should learn to use in their social media strategy. Keywords are phrases or terms that consumers search for, such as “affordable men’s shoes,” “#supportlocal,” or, “small-batch salsa.”
Free tools like Google Keyword Planner provide you with data metrics, including monthly search volume and the degree of competition existing for each term.
So, instead of arbitrarily choosing keywords to describe your business, plug them into Google Keyword Planner. See if there is a better variation that might earn more traffic due to higher search volume or less competition.
Once you’ve created a list of relevant, attainable keywords, begin implementing them into your social media and website copy. If you just launched your small business and have yet to start a website, check out this easy-to-use (and affordable!) website builder. Creating a website that synchronizes all of the branding and promotion done on your socials is sure to increase sales and promote the organization.
Stay true to you.
Social media can be intimidating. In a saturated market full of trendy influencers and big-name corporation ads, is there room for a small business like you?
Of Course. Absolutely.
Your consumers understand the value of the face behind the brand. Particularly for small businesses, your audience wants to hear your story and obtain a symbiotic relationship. Don’t lose sight of the why behind starting your business.
Implement your business’ values in each of your posting strategies. Do you value community? Share stories of your beloved home and how your brand positively impacts it. Service? Partner with local organizations rooting for the same cause. Success and empowerment? Highlight stories of successful individuals who also happen to be your customers.
Social media is a legitimate business strategy, and it deserves to be treated as such. Hence, do your research, prepare content calendars, and devote the time and energy these accounts deserve. Most importantly, evaluate your results. Seeing that your hard work has paid off, literally, is the best way to justify these efforts.
When social media is done right, the results can astonish you.
Caroline Hughes is an honors student at Texas Christian University obtaining a Strategic Communication degree with a minor in Business. Caroline is currently interning for Magnus Opus. When she is not focusing on her studies, she is writing for her personal lifestyle blog.
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- 5 Beginner Social Media Steps aSmall Business Can Take Right Now - September 14, 2020