I asked Phil Penton, President of Social Integration to give us his insight into how smaller (yet growing) businesses can get the most from social media. His advice is below. Social Integration is an end-to-end reputation and social media management platform
For small businesses, social media marketing often takes a backseat to what business owners might deem more “fruitful” marketing activities. But social media can have huge benefits for small businesses – if it’s done right.
When you’re just getting started, you can’t just create a few social posts and expect leads to start coming in. You need to be strategic: Plan every move your brand makes online ahead of time and make sure each post has a purpose.
Small business owners should keep four tips in mind to effectively tackle social media marketing:
Focus locally (bet you have not heard this one before)
One major advantage small brands have over national brands is an authentic, local feel and presence. Even though a social media presence widens your audience, focusing locally is the key to remaining genuine online. It may seem counterintuitive, but for small businesses, keeping a local brand presence on social media can actually be a draw for out-of-towners. But many small business owners find it difficult to stay local in the sea of social media users.
The first step is to post local content that will be relevant and interesting to your customer demographic. For example, if you’re an insurance company in Alabama, share tips with your customers on how to avoid flooding in their homes. If you’re employing a social media management tool, consider one that has the capability of generating pre-populated content for your brand based on your location and terms you’ve selected. Being able to quickly create and publish relevant content for your local customers can help you maintain authenticity on social media.
Find ways to shoulder the content burden
The sheer number of social media outlets seems to be growing every year and especially for a small business new to the social media marketing, it can be difficult to keep up. For example, do small businesses need to be concerned with platforms like Instagram or even SnapChat? It all varies by business model and product offering, so business owners need to identify and prioritize the channels that will have the most impact for their business. Then to be effective in using social media to drive sales, small businesses need to be able to efficiently source, schedule and monitor content and engagement across these channels.
Schedule posts in advance across social media channels. If possible, deploy a social media management tool that will source content for you and allow you to easily schedule posts with just a few clicks. Look for a platform that allows you to see all your scheduled posts and provides the flexibility to easily edit posts if something comes up.
Incorporate reputation management
Incorporating reputation management capabilities along with social media creates a huge advantage for small businesses. Owners should take the time to respond to negative reviews and provide the necessary customer support, or promote positive reviews and interact with satisfied customers. Additionally, consider sharing your best reviews across social networks, further amplifying the reach of that good experience.
For small businesses looking to cut back on the time it takes to comb through the major review sites in your industry, consider setting up email notifications to alert you to new reviews. Or better yet, look for a platform that aggregates all relevant reputation sites and can alert you of new reviews that need your attention.
Prepare to scale (bet you have not heard this one before)
For most small businesses, growth is the ultimate goal. But with that growth, many businesses leave their social media marketing by the wayside. It can be difficult to continue managing your social efforts as you expand to new locations and reach new market segments. To assist your growth, be sure your social media marketing efforts are aligned to scale.
For example, if your business is expanding to new locations, be prepared to create social pages unique to that location – keep it local. It can also be beneficial to use a platform that allows all location managers to access their specific location’s social page via one platform without personal logins (to prevent any mishaps with former employees).
Social media marketing can often seem like a daunting task for small business owners – especially those with little marketing experience. But letting social media management get pushed aside is a huge mistake. To be successful, simply focus on staying local and authentic, creating content ahead of time, effectively managing reputation and preparing to scale your social media efforts with your business’ growth.