Today, the average person logs 1.72 hours per day on social media networks; that’s about 628 hours per year, and the numbers are only increasing. Whether people use social media for news, entertainment or to merely pass time, it is becoming the perfect medium for small businesses to engage current and potential customers.
A solid social media plan can be the perfect way small businesses gain brand exposure. But many don’t know where to start.
Well, my friend, you have come to the right place. Here are five tips for starting – and optimizing – a social media program for your growing business.
1. Begin with realistic, measurable goals. Nothing can hinder your social media program more from the start than unachievable goals. Only have 10 Twitter followers? Don’t expect to gain a thousand more overnight. An ideal social media program takes time to get right. You need to learn your voice, your customers’ voice and what works best for your business.
To get things going in the right direction, start by defining which benefits you want social media to bring your organization through objectives that can easily be tracked and measured.
Common objectives include:
- Increase engagement (replies, retweets and link clicks)
- Gain new followers
- Build brand awareness
Objectives like these are an easy way to get your business’ social media off the ground and running without feeling the pressure to knock it out of the park within the first couple of months.
2. Choose the right social media platforms. It’s better to focus your time perfecting one social platform than spreading your brand thin trying to reach your audience on several. Businesses should have a consistent image, and attempting to engage on every platform will zap your resources.
The platform that works best for your business however, depends on your target audience. If your brand targets consumers, choosing Twitter, Facebook and even Pinterest are surefire ways to gain exposure, as your target audience is likely on these platforms searching for product information or reviews. As for B2B companies, Twitter and LinkedIn take the reins, as businesses can post about their services and relevant thought-leadership articles.
For the best results, choose up to three platforms that best meet your business’ needs, and monitor those closely. If one isn’t performing like you think it should after a couple of months, adopt a new platform.
3. Quality not quantity. Many businesses start off gung-ho with their social media program, jumping right into sharing multiple posts, every hour. This is one of the worst practices a business can have. To a customer, there isn’t anything more irritating than seeing your timeline bombarded with useless information.
Instead, pledge to share information that only relates to your brand and target audiences. Sharing around four to five thought-leadership or brand-related pieces a day is a good metric to begin with. Once you see more interaction, increase posts, while still staying true to your brand and voice.
4. Monitor your analytics. Analytics might be the single-most difficult aspect of social media. Understanding the graphs, what warrants a positive interaction and so on can overwhelm even the most seasoned social media practitioner.
But, don’t give up! It’s important to review your analytics on a weekly (okay we know that time is a precious resource) or monthly basis to enable you to keep tabs on your objectives (remember those?) and give you the data you need to support them. Knowing what’s working so you can replicate it or what’s not to make a message or platform shift is critical, especially in a smaller organization.
There are plenty of free sites out there, such as Hootsuite, that can make social media easy. You can even schedule your daily posts within them instead of logging on to each platform every few hours! It just takes time to learn, kind of like riding your bike without training wheels.
5. Stick with it! It can be discouraging after a month into your social escapades to find little growth. But, keep in mind that it takes time to build your social presence, and more importantly, a loyal follower base. Focus on your audience and the information you share. While it might seem tedious, it pays to implement a well-targeted program. Sure enough, you’ll begin to see your numbers increase and more people engaging with your brand.
While it takes time to perfect your social media program, implementing these five tips will ensure your growing business is off to a great start! Who knows, maybe your brand will be the next Katy Perry of Twitter.