To Tweet or Not to Tweet? Social Media Marketing Strategies for Small Businesses
by Josette Millar
Facebook used to be the de facto starting ground for small business owners ready to delve into the world of social media. Today, social media marketing strategies that rely solely on Facebook rarely hit their mark. When starting your social media presence, your platform is as important as your message. Consider these social media strategies to get the best benefits for your business.
Who’s Your Audience?
Pre-Facebook, MySpace was the only game in town when it came to social media. Businesses that infiltrated the site had their message exposed to all demographics, ensuring their message was heard loud and clear to customers and potential customers. Today, the proliferation of social media sites has splintered target audiences. The post-college crowd is available on Facebook but preteens largely are found on Instagram. Creative types like the visually intriguing platform of Pinterest while young, professionals enjoy the brevity of Twitter. Identifying the social media hotspots where your clients are active can reduce wasted time on social media sites that don’t cater to your audience.
What’s Your Message?
It’s not only the platforms that have changed in social media marketing strategies but the ways of displaying your message. Too many small business owners lunge after the newest fad in social media rather than considering where their message will be best received. Businesses that supply specialty goods often do well on visual social media sites like Instagram and Twitter because they can present their fan base with their newest designs but a small business offering tax services may not have enough content to offer those sites. Small business owners that focus on their message and how it should be presented often find that information can drive their social media marketing strategies.
Are You Engaged?
The “social” portion of social media marketing strategies is all too often lost on business owners. Instead of treating social media sites like a platform to interact with their customer base, they treat it like a highway billboard, blasting their message and not interacting with fans. First determine how much engagement you’re willing to invest because that may alter what social media site you choose to build your business presence. Sites like Twitter and LinkedIn require a high degree of engagement to become “noticed” on the site. Retweeting and commenting drives more eyes to your content so tacking up a picture and hoping it takes off is a poor strategy. Sites like Flickr and Pinterest rely more on unique content that can’t be found in other places so a piece of art or graphic image may produce a better response than written interaction. Determining your level of engagement from a business perspective can help mold your social media marketing strategy.
Where’s Your Research?
Social media success isn’t fool-proof. In fact, many small business owners waste time and effort maintaining multiple social media sites that don’t produce business or add to their customer base. Dedicating time and research to identifying which social media sites will work best for your business is a must. Sites like #hashtags.org or the “Trending Right Now” section on Pinterest can help small business owners customize their message to reach their audience. Studying what elicits a response on each site and what falls flat can help guide your message on social media. Ensuring that you’re targeting the right customer with the right message takes time and research.
The term social media marketing sounds easy but coming up with a strategy that converts fans to customers is a lot of work. Half the battle is determining where your business will fit best but the other half requires dedicated time and patience in seeing your strategy through.