Our small business landscape is changing so fast that, sometimes, when we pick our head up and look around, we wonder if we are caught up on all the free technology available to us. One type of technology many business owners find baffling is social media. It is constantly evolving and it seems that the tide goes in and out on which social media platforms are the most popular.
I had lunch the other day with an owner of one of our Better Business Bureau Accredited Businesses. He stated that he thought he got his best bang for his marketing buck using Facebook. With that said, you would think he is on Facebook all the time – posting, boosting, etc. However, he said he just didn’t have the time to make the commitment. I’m sure many bootstrapping business owners can relate.
When one considers using social media for their business, another very important question comes up: “Which one(s) do I use?” It seems like every time you blink, there is a new platform that is being explored by the up and coming generations. If it gains traction, you may find yourself trying to figure out how to incorporate it into your marketing and advertising plan. If you are just getting things going, start with the social media platforms with the largest potential audience and that require the least amount of time to use. In the United States today, that likely means Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
While developing your social media strategy, always keep the end goal in mind — consumer engagement. What content do your consumers want to see? Is it about you, your industry in general, or something that is near and dear to the hearts of those in your community?
Here are some quick tips and tricks from BBB to get your social media game off the ground:
You have free articles remaining.
• Be honest: BBB stands for truth in Advertising. If you are using social media to promote a product or service provided by your business, keep your post straightforward and to the point.
• Schedule your posts: If you are a bootstrapping business owner, you likely don’t have time to drop what you are doing to post all day long. Also, space your posts out so they aren’t too frequent or infrequent. When you have a moment to catch your breath, think about what posts you may want to get out over the next week or month. There are tools out there that can make scheduling posts easy for you: Hootsuite, Buffer, Sprout Social, and Crowdbooster.
• Repost: Do you want to post to keep the engagement up with your customers, but you don’t know what to say today? Let the web do the work for you. Here are two recommendations: Google Alerts and RSS feeds. A word, phrase or a name can trigger a Google alert and you will get a message in your inbox about something relevant in your industry. Investigate the alert and you may find it worth posting about. Or, try finding a good and relevant RSS feed. An RSS (Rich Site Summary) regularly updates you with information you are tracking. This includes blog entries, news headlines, audio, and video. Either one of these methods can provide you with content you can use to engage your customer audience.
• Look sharp: Make sure your images look good and are the right size. Just Google “Image sizes for social media” and a list will populate. Following those guidelines will guarantee that your images look nice, crisp, and appropriately sized on whatever device they are viewed on.
• Shorten Links: Got a link you want to use to engage that consumer? Let’s get that link posted, but make sure it is not too long for your social media platform. Twitter, for example, is a form of social media that has a character limit. You don’t want to burn though all of those characters with a really long URL. Fortunately, there are tools that can shorten those links for you. Check out Bit.ly, Owl.ly, and TinyURL.
• Use Hashtags: Hashtags label your post and contribute it toward a feed. This will help you grow that audience you might reach with that post. Don’t know which hashtag to use? Check out sites like hashtag.org. Keep the hashtag short and easy for your customers to use. You can also use multiple hashtags, but don’t go too crazy. Try to keep it to around three or so.
For many business owners, marketing efforts like social media posts can feel like a guessing game. You are always left wondering who you are reaching and how effective your message is. Ultimately, you want to make sure that you stay top of mind with your consumers and you want them to choose your business over your competitors. If you want to minimize the guessing involved in your social media marketing efforts, use that platform’s analytics tools. Facebook and Twitter have tools built in. You can see who is engaging, how they are engaging, and when. It’s true that, some of social media marketing is trial and error, but you have tools at your fingertips to tell you if what you are trying is working. Give it time. You should eventually see the results in how your customers interact with your business.
While developing your social media strategy, always keep the end goal in mind — consumer engagement.