What do you do when consumers are becoming increasingly focused on social media, while your business is still focusing on the awesome product or service you sell? It’s time to get serious about an online marketing plan. In order to get the most bang for your buck online, you’ll need to utilize social media for your business–no matter what you are selling.
Here are a few things to consider before diving into social media:
The first and most important thing is to decide how you are currently communicating with your audience online and how you would like to communicate with them in the future. Think about these three channels of communication.
- Text. The easiest and most informative way to communicate online is through text. Channels such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, blogs, and good ol’ emails are a great way to communicate messages–long or short–to your audience about the latest happenings with your business.
- Images. Any business can and should be incorporating still images into their online marketing plan. Images should be carefully chosen to convey messages to an audience and should not overpower the main goal of the post. Social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and Pinterest are image-focused and can be great for promoting a business. Still images should also be included in emails, and profile/cover photos should be present on every social media platform your business engages in.
- Audio/Video. Periscope, Youtube, and Vimeo are great for sharing messages through audio or video. These can come in the form of tutorials on how to use your product, interviews with people who love your product, funny behind the scenes happenings around the office, or tips and tricks on how your service or product can improve your customer’s life. The possibilities of using videos for marketing are endless, but this method of reaching consumers through social media is a bit more time consuming. You don’t have to invest in fancy equipment to use videos in your marketing plan, but it does take a bit more commitment to create a video that engages your audience.
A business owner on top of their social media game (which sometimes means hiring an employee whose main job is to manage social media) will aim for doing a little of everything. However, you don’t have to do it all to be recognized and look professional on social media. Here are a few tips from Mazuma’s marketing team to make it happen for your small business.
- Choose a few social media channels and do them well. Don’t feel like you have to manage every single (and old) social media platform out there. Determine how much time you have to spend on social media for business and divide that by 3 or 4 — that’s about how many social media channels most small business owners can manage at first. In fact, many find that 3 or 4 is even too many to handle.
- Snag your username on all social media platforms, even if you won’t use them right now. Plan to use your 2-4 platforms well, but be sure to claim your space on certain channels you think you might use in the future. There are many people out there who will sign up for a social media account or domain under a business name and then try to sell it back to the business owner for an outrageous amount of money. Avoid this mishap by grabbing your business name on the channels you’re interested in now and then focusing on them later. You don’t have to advertise every social media channel you’re signed up for–just bring the attention to the ones you’re actively using.
- Sign up for Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+. Here’s why:
- Facebook attracts the widest variety of users. All of your customers are on Facebook (with a few exceptions), young and old. With over one billion users, it has an audience too large to ignore. Facebook is easy to use and offers the flexibility of text images, and videos all in one place.
- LinkedIn is a professional network that is more serious in nature, but one that all small business owners should be on. There are over 230 million LinkedIn users and 2.7 million business pages already on LinkedIn. You don’t necessarily have to maintain a business page on LinkedIn, but as a business owner, you should absolutely have a personal account that is updated regularly.
- A Google+ page for your business will help Google generate search results for your business that includes: the name of your business, where it is located on a map, reviews, contact and location information, and even photos. Google is the tried and true search engine for anyone and everyone, and if you’re not showing up on Google, you’re missing out.
- Other social media channels that are great for business include: YouTube, Instagram, Yelp, Reddit, Pinterest, FourSquare, Tumblr, Twitter, Periscope, and Snapchat. Venture onto those social media platforms in the future, when you can create a marketing plan and use them skillfully.
Keep in mind that it doesn’t matter what you’re signed up for or how often you post about your business when it comes to social media. What really matters is that you’re generating thoughtful, meaningful, and original content that will engage your current and potential customers.
Ben Sutton is the founder of Mazuma USA, an accounting firm providing tax, bookkeeping and payroll services to small businesses. Since founding Mazuma, Ben has established himself as an expert in the small business world. He’s still driven by that same desire to provide accounting help to all small businesses – from photographers, bloggers and creatives to lawyers, doctors, and dentists, everyone needs affordable accounting help. Ben is a Certified Public Accountant, and a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. But Ben considers his greatest achievement and credential to be his happy wife and four children.