As a small business owner or solo entrepreneur you are faced with the on-going challenge of how to market your business. Very few small businesses have unlimited budgets available so any funds spent on marketing really need to be effective in landing additional sales or leads or ultimately have some value to the overall growth of the business.
Right now using social media for marketing is on fire. Everywhere you go, people are talking about how your business MUST be using social media to get the word out. Just recently, leading social media professionals have said that businesses and companies who are not using social media within the next 3 to 5 years will not survive.
So how do you figure out what’s the best way to spend any of your budget on social media marketing for your business? There have been many times that I have spoken with potential clients who want to know how I can help them. They know that they want to use social media (or at least they have heard that they should be using social media) but they are not quite sure how to do that so they do a search for a social media assistant. But then, they aren’t quite sure what to say about what they need help with other than they want to be active with social media.
Here are my top five tips for how to determine what you want help with and how much help you will need to do it.
1) What are your goals for using social media? This is usually the first question I ask potential clients. The answer to this question informs the entire strategy for how we would use social media for you or your business. Typically, the first level of goals will be to:
- a) sell more product/s
- b) get more clients
- c) get more qualified leads
These are all good and sound goals not just for social media marketing but for any type of marketing. However, with social media it is also a good idea to have a secondary level of goals. These might include increasing brand awareness, providing customer service, responding to customer inquiries, increased accessibility to you or your company, networking and creating additional professional or business connections.
Using social media for business can be about more than just marketing your products or services. The social interaction aspect of “social media” means that it can be a perfect avenue for finding a way to really connect with those who are most interested in your business. People want to connect with other people. Social media has made this possible.
2) What will be your overall message and how will you get your message out there? This step entails fine tuning what message you want to get out there and then determining which platforms would be best utilized for that message.
For some businesses, it makes more sense to establish a strong presence on LinkedIn and building connections there. For others, it might be about building a central community on Facebook where your customers and clients can interact with you directly. Determining which social media platforms to use can also be driven by where you believe your target market spends their time online.
3) How will you implement and develop your social media presence? This would entail setting up your social media properties if you have not already done so. Each social media property or presence should reflect your overall brand, your target message and be optimized to help them be found easily. Often it is beneficial to work with a social media assistant, consultant or agency to help with the more technical aspects of setting up some of your social media properties such as installing and customizing a blog or creating custom graphics for your Twitter or Facebook accounts.
4) Who will be responsible for creating content and ongoing management for your social media presence? For some larger businesses or companies, they might have an employee or a team dedicated to handing and managing their social media. For small businesses and solo entrepreneurs, they may decide to handle it themselves and work to keep it manageable. Alternatively, they may hire a social media assistant to help them with these tasks. The content creation may all still come from the business owner and a social media assistant helps to get it out on the different networks and platforms. In other instances, an assistant can help to create the content and then help syndicate it to their different social media accounts.
Another scenario might include working with an assistant to get set up and establish a preliminary presence that you will take over.
5) Decide how you will track outcomes and results. As with any marketing effort, it is important to track your outcomes and results in a meaningful way. The tricky part with social media is that it doesn’t always easily lend itself to trackable, tangible results. In addition to tracking growth among your online communities, it can be helpful to also set up systems to track engagement and connection. There are many online tools that help with this. A social media assistant can help suggest how to track outcomes as well as track and gather the data each month so you can review how your social media efforts are working to reach your goals. These data can also help to refine your efforts and overall social media campaign.
While it’s not essential to have the answers to all of these questions before embarking on finding help with your social media, it is good to at least think through them a bit. You might even want to jot down a few thoughts for each area related to your business to help guide you through your search for social media assistance.
What are your reasons for wanting to use social media for helping to market your business?