The 'Must Haves' for Every Small Business Social Media Strategy
When you’re a new, small, or growing business, your to-do list is long. It’s easy to let things fall by the wayside if they don’t feel imperative to the immediate operation of your business. And, one of those things is social media.
Small business social media strategies are often pushed down to the bottom of task lists. It’s an understandable mistake, but it’s a bad mistake to make.
Failing to implement a social media plan can make your business look untrustworthy, out-of-touch, impersonal, and unreliable. But the good news is that creating a small business social media strategy isn’t as difficult as it sounds. You just need to start with the essentials.
The Right Profiles
When you're just starting your small business social media, you don’t need to rush into creating a profile on every single platform. It’s better to choose two or three places to get started. Consider your target audience and industry, and then create a presence on the platforms that best match your demographics and business.
- Facebook (The Must Have): The only exception to the “choose the platform that is right for you” rule is Facebook. Every business, big or small, must have a presence on Facebook. With almost 2 billion monthly active users, the Facebook community is simply too large to ignore. You are expected to be there.
- Twitter: Next to Facebook, Twitter is the platform that is most important. While it may not be the platform that best attracts new customers, it is valuable for monitoring what people are saying about your business. People frequently use Twitter as a customer service tool, so it pays to have a profile and small presence on this social site.
- Instagram: Instagram is a fun way to show what’s going on inside of your business by sharing photos. But, it works better for some businesses than others. If your business doesn’t do anything that creates interesting photo ops, you may not need an Instagram account. This platform is best used by businesses with products that look great in photos or services with before and afters.
- Pinterest: Pinterest, like Instagram, works better for businesses that are visually-driven. It also requires some upfront work of creating and designing images. So, if you don’t have time to create custom images, you may want to avoid it. But, if you are in the fashion, food, or health and wellness industry, you may want to use this platform as it has a strong following in those areas.
- Snapchat: Many marketers are still trying to figure out how to effectively use SnapChat for driving business. So this platform isn’t a must. But, you may want to consider building a Snapchat presence if you have a target audience of teens as it is very popular in that age group.
- LinkedIn: A LinkedIn profile is only a requirement if you own a business that is a professional service. Retailers and restaurants may not get as much use out of the platform that is designed for professionals.
- YouTube: YouTube is at the bottom of this list, but not because it isn’t important. Next to Google, YouTube is the second largest search engine. Online audiences regularly use YouTube to search for content so it’s a great place to capture attention. But, creating videos can be a labor intensive process when you are just getting started. So don’t make YouTube a priority at the beginning, but add it to the list of future plans.
Keep it simple when you are just starting out. Only create profiles on platforms that you have the bandwidth to manage. It’s better to not have a profile than to have a profile that is never updated.
The Right Tools
If you don’t have a lot of time to put into your small business social media strategy, you don’t need to go crazy with tools. You can just start with this short list of must-haves.
Hootsuite: Hootsuite is a social media dashboard that allows you to connect multiple profiles and create various streams of feeds.
From your dashboard, you can:
- Schedule posts for your social media accounts, so you only need to log in to one place to manage multiple accounts.
- Set up streams that include any mention of your brand, so you can keep an eye on what people are saying about your business.
- Create feeds for certain keywords that are relevant to your industry, so you can see what people are saying about your field.
Hootsuite is free with up to three social media profiles, which typically meets the needs of new small to medium size businesses.
Buffer: Buffer offers features that are similar to Hootsuite. You can also use the Buffer dashboard to schedule posts. But for busy small businesses, the real benefit of Buffer is their browser extension.
When you have a Buffer account, you can add an extension to your web browser. The extension adds functionality to your browser that allows you to click to add a piece of content to your Buffer feed.
This makes it easy to fill your social media feed as you can choose to add content while going through your normal web browsing habits. If you see something that you think your followers would like, you can quickly click a button to fill up your feed.
The Buffer free plan allows you to add one account per platform and schedule up to ten posts at a time.
Canva: Two of the things that often hold small businesses back from creating custom images for their social media feeds are time and lack of skills.
Without a graphic designer or a lot of time, it can be difficult to take on the task of creating custom images. But creating branded, beautiful images is easy with Canva.
Canva comes with pre-designed images that are already styled and sized for specific social media channels. All you have to do is plug and play to design top-notch graphics for your posts.
Canva is a free tool. They offer a paid subscription to access additional features and charge for select images.
The Right Strategy
Google “social media strategy,” and you’ll find more than 150,000,000 results. Needless to say, there are a lot of tactics out there for managing your small business social media. But at the beginning, all you need to do is focus on the most important tips for social media posting.
Know your audience. All good marketing starts with knowing exactly your audience. Social media marketing is no different. Before you begin posting and designing content, create detailed buyer personas. Knowing your target audience inside and out will make it easier for you to create content that resonates with them.
Define your voice. You want to know your target audience, and you also want to know yourself. As you begin your social media strategy, create a document that clearly outlines your brand identity and voice. Include directions on the type of language, phrases, and sentiment your brand should share.
Listen and respond. Social media isn’t a one-way communication line. You don’t just talk and share. You also have to listen. As a part of your core strategy, set up a system to both monitor and manage comments that relate to your brand and business.
Post regularly. While you don’t have to post all of the time, you do have to consistently post. Determine the amount of time you have to put toward social media content creation, and create a schedule that fits that time-frame. Schedule the work and stick to it to give off a trustworthy and reliable online presence.
Follow the 30/60/10 approach. Remember it’s not all about you and your brand when it comes to social media. Your followers don’t only want to hear only about your projects or promotions. Vary the content you share by posting 30% of the content you create, 60% of content created by others, and only 10% of content that is promotional for your business.
Start free, and plan to incorporate paid. Your small business social media plan should be lean at the beginning and then designed to expand. Start off by relying on organic (unpaid) posts. But then plan for how you can add a budget to your social strategy so you can begin to share paid promotional posts that can reach more people. (Recommended Reading: The Facebook Ad Strategy Every SMB Owner Needs to Know)
Social media doesn’t have to be super complicated or complex when you are just starting. Use these basic strategies to get going and then continue to scale and grow from there.
The Right Team
Not every business will need or have the resources to build an entire team around their social media, and that’s okay.
As long as you are delegating out the tasks that need to be completed, you can have a part-time team of one or a full staff. As you set up your social media strategy, make sure that there is a person who is responsible for each of the following tasks. Knowing who is responsible will streamline the process and make it easier for you to run your social plan.
- Copy Content Creator: responsible for creating the text and copy for each of your posts.
- Graphic Content Creator: responsible for creating custom graphics for your posts.
- Content Approver: responsible for approving content before it is posted.
- Customer Support: responsible for following up with customer service issues that are mentioned through social media.
- Ads Manager: responsible for setting up paid ads (This task is not required when you’re just getting started.)
- Social Media Strategist: responsible for creating strategies such as hashtag campaigns, contests, promotions, etc. (This task is also not required at the beginning of your small business social media strategy. But, it can help to hire an outsourced expert or team to develop your strategy before you start so they can direct your team with the other tasks.)
Again, you do not need to hire a person for each of these tasks. The important thing is to be aware of what goes into a full social media strategy and have a person assigned to manage each task.
Make sure you're following small business social media best practices...
Yes, it can be difficult to manage small business social media when you already have so many things on your plate.
But with these essentials, you should be able to put plans in place to keep your online presence up-and-running and performing for your business.
If you find that you’re still struggling with managing your social media or just wondering how you’re doing, we’re here to help. Schedule a free consultation to learn how our team of social media experts can help you upgrade and improve your social presence to connect with more customers and clients while using fewer resources and less time.