A social media marketing strategy is essential for any entrepreneur and is especially important for those of us who are hustling from the homestead. Properly harnessing the power of social media can boost business and mean big returns. Failing to take advantage of social media can cost you traffic and help drive customers to your more socially-savvy competitors.
Social media is so powerful because it puts you right in the midst of your customers. Before the advent of social media, it was much more difficult to communicate your messages with your customers. Social media gives business a more active role in defining how customers think of them.
In this article, we’ll focus on the first steps to developing content marketing programs. Understanding the basics to creating a social media plan is key to starting your accounts right. Get the edge on your competition and show off what you have to offer by following these tips for a social media plan that works.
Before you jump into posting on social media, some planning is in order. Thinking strategically about your social media marketing will help you avoid mistakes and achieve your goals.
Remember: once you’ve posted on social media, it can be hard to erase what you’ve posted or start over from scratch, so be deliberate about how, what, and when you post. If you’ve already got an established account, don’t panic — there’s still plenty of room to apply your strategy to your social networks and make some beneficial changes that will work best for your business.
The first step to developing a plan is thinking about what you want to achieve. Are you hoping to get more exposure for your brand? Do you need to directly boost sales or increase foot traffic? Are you trying to establish a brand for your business? Social media can help you achieve all of these things, but look at your business holistically to determine what your needs are, and focus in on some specific goals first.
If you haven’t developed brand guidelines, it’s a good idea to do so before you start posting on social media. Having a guide for your content will help keep your messages clear and focused on achieving your business goals. Not only that, it sets a standard for your brand.
Here are some good examples of how big brands are strategically using social media:
There are several different types of content you should post on social media:
- Content about your business
- Content that directly addresses your audience
- Content that engages your audience and helps build authority
The first category, content about your business, consists of news and information about your company. This might be things like updates about new products or promos, or information about you, your business, or your brand. Let your customers know who you are and why they want your product in these posts.
The second category, content that directly addresses your audience, is more reactionary. Here’s where you respond to customer comments or questions. Users react well when you take the time to address their concerns or praises. Creating personal connections with customers is especially important for small business owners.
The last category of posts, content that engages your audience and helps build authority, is a little broader than the others. This type of content is more “fun;” it rounds out your social media profiles and helps build a positive view of your company among customers. This doesn’t have to be content you create yourself. It can be shares of articles about your industry, quizzes, high-quality images, news, and other “miscellaneous” content that’s on-brand, relevant, and helps keep users coming back to your social media pages.
The content you create that focuses on your business should be the basis of your social media content. This is the bulk of your social media posting. In this content you create the face of your company and take major steps towards defining your company’s brand and voice. It’s where you get to tell your company’s story.
One important key to successfully executing this content category is ensuring everything you post is the best it can be. How would it make you feel about a business if you saw typos in the copy they posted? What kind of perception do you have of companies with low-quality photos on their Facebook or Instagram pages? Consider your audience at all times, and give them lots of reasons to believe your business is professional.
This content also does a lot of work towards defining who your company is. Herein lies a great opportunity to share what customers are saying about your company, repost photos customers have taken of your products, and respond to customer questions and comments. It’s important to have some of this content on your page, but it shouldn’t be the majority of your social media content.
In the beginning, be sure to reward customers who take time to give you positive feedback, questions, or comments with, at least, a response! Once your social pages are busy you won’t have time to respond to all of your customers, but when your pages are still new, it can be a great way to build your following and create goodwill among your customers. Customers love when they get a sincere human response, and this is where small businesses have the upper hand over big brands.
Think of this as an accessory to your business content: it’s content that helps shape customer perception of your brand that isn’t specifically about your business. This type of content helps provide some balance to your social media pages, and keeps your customers entertained. Keep it relevant, on-brand, and interesting.
Quizzes, articles about industry news or trends, videos, and high-quality photos are all great examples of types of content within this category that you can post to keep your customers engaged with your social media pages. When posting any of this type of content, be sure that it conforms to your brand guidelines. Photos and videos are especially important in crafting customer perception: high-quality photos and videos mean a high-quality business in the eyes of the customer.
Once you’ve got a social media strategy fleshed out, you can start applying it to your specific social media sites, like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. We’ll dive a little more deeply into how your strategy applies specifically to each of these “big three” social media networks in upcoming installations of this series. Until then, create your branding guidelines and start thinking about how your social media messaging can work to help you achieve your goals for your homestead.