Social Media can be a powerful marketing tool for any business, but if it’s not properly planned and executed, it can also take up considerable time for little reward. As with many things in life, the more effort you put into it, the more you’re likely to get out of it.
Focus on Customer Service
The first suggestion is to clear your mind of any preconceptions of social media. Get rid of the images of cute kittens, teen selfies and people sharing every detail of their life. If you want to use social media for business, you need to view it as an investment in customer service.
Also let’s make it very clear that social media isn’t a sales platform, it is a unique opportunity to build rapport and connections with people that share your values and interests. It is a chance to reflect the personality of your business and develop more personal interactions with individuals who may become your customers, suppliers, partners, ambassadors or support network.
So, if we are approaching this as a customer service tool, we need to be clear about who are customers are, which social media platforms they use and what they want from us in terms of social media posts. This is going to require a bit of research. Spending time on pinpointing the target audience in this way will save a lot of wasted time and effort in the future and it will offer clarity in the early stages.
Before you get cracking, it can be advisable to spend at least half a day mapping out a three month content plan. Think about a theme for each month (this could be influenced by seasonal changes, product ranges, events or company values). Now take each theme and divide it into four sub categories, which will be your focus for that week.
For each week, prepare useful tips, interesting examples, images, products or services (not just your own), influential companies or people, quotes, resources, promotions, questions or polls and more that are relevant. Once you get into the swing of it, this can be a fun and informative process. It also means that you can prepare the bulk of your social media posts in one afternoon.
With that in place, allocate a slot in two months’ time to repeat the process. With this approach it can take just four afternoons a year to have a sound content plan in place.
Setting Up a Profile
An inactive social media profile isn’t going to generate interest, so it is important that you start small and set up just one profile to begin with. Your research should guide you as to the best one for engaging with your target audience.
It doesn’t matter if you opt for Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube or any other, it is free to set up an account and having signed in, you will receive step by step instructions to get things up and running. Aim to create a full profile, using images and text, so that anyone who looks you up can see exactly what you do.
With your profile activated, you can begin to set aside a 15 minute slot every morning and afternoon for social media. If there are relevant topical issues, industry updates or events to mention, you can prepare a post (if you share content, be sure to add a little comment of your own to personalise it). If there is no real time news, you can post something from your content plan. Either way, this should only take up part of your time.
The rest of the time should be spent responding to other people’s comments, sharing posts that tie in with your content plan, recommending contacts, asking questions to encourage engagement and generally making social media a two-way conversation rather than simply blasting information out.
These points should help you to get things up and running, but if you would like to learn more, this free online social media course can help. It explains how social media can be used as part of your wider marketing strategy.