If you haven’t already realized it, social media takes a solid strategy and a lot of time to provide real business value – if you think it doesn’t then you should highly reconsider jumping in. What takes so much time? Well, being successful on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and a company blog is all about producing valuable content, not just establishing a presence on these services. Valuable content is what establishes your company as an authority in the space, and creates a reason for people to become your fan or watch your video; and valuable content takes time to create.
So, with that fact sorted out, the question for small business owners becomes, “How can I leverage social media for my business when I don’t have a lot of time or money to throw at it?” Here are some things you should ask yourself before diving in:
An Ability to Create Authoritative Content
Let’s hit this one first, because again, it’s the most important. By authoritative content, I am referring to a lengthy article (400 words) or 3-5 minute video about a specific topic that provides value to your audience/customer. The key factors in your ability to produce this content are a) time/budget b) commitment to the concept c) knowledge of the topic d) creativity. If you feel that you or someone within your organization can fill all of these requirements, then you have the ammunition to start your campaign.
Make Time to Socialize
“…often the discussion is far more important in getting eyeballs to your site than the original content alone.”
Creating the content is certainly one of the most difficult parts, but it’s only half the effort. Once you have created this content, you have to get it out there in social media, get people talking about it, and engage them. Granted, you are not going to engage every customer, but engaging those who are seeking discussion will help create additional content both within the confines of your content (through comments) and throughout the social networks of those participating in the discussion. Discussion on the web has a spider effect, more so every day as services continue to share more data – so often the discussion is far more important in getting eyeballs to your site than the original content alone.
It’s also important to engage others in your field who are creating authoritative content; it not only creates goodwill, but will ultimately drive traffic to your site. Keep at it enough, and before long you will be writing guest posts on larger publications that help drive considerable traffic.
Research: Keep Up with the Tools
Using just Twitter.com to interact with your audience or jumping on to Facebook each time you want to share something is not smart time management – keep up with the tools that will make your social media marketing life easier. Hootsuite is a great tool for pushing your content across multiple platforms and it offers a lot of other great services like click tracking and targeted search.
More Research: Track Your Results
Speaking of click tracking, you will want to make an effort to monitor what effect your activities are having on traffic and ultimately conversions (contact form, sign-up for demo, etc). Note your traffic levels before you start your social media campaign and track them on a daily basis to understand what content is producing the best results.
If you are not analyzing your web traffic currently, checkout Google Analytics, a free tool that works very well. Shoot me an email if you have questions about setting it up.
Hold Your Tongue – Understand the Different Networks
If you are a shameless promoter you better recognize! Like selling at wedding or gloating at a funeral – there are certain social networks where you have to be careful how you act.
At the same time, if you are quiet like a cat, you’re probably worse off than the guy above.
A quick rundown:
No-holds barred here, let the business chatter fly. Just make sure to keep it civil (more so than the other networks).
Twitter Personal Account
Posting specifically about your product once or twice a week is okay, linking to industry related news that you didn’t create more often is fine.
Twitter Business Account
Everything here should either be business related or talking about other things within the industry. Try to make it a nice mix of these too and also mix in some posts with personality, such as “Beautiful day, glad to be working with such great people” or “thanks @mikedavis, great meeting, looking forward to working with you!” As little as 1 post per day is sufficient; probably should not go over 10 per day, but there is no real good scale for this and it depends on your industry.
YouTube Business Account
Only post work related content.
Facebook Personal Account
Only post major announcements for your business on Facebook, and a good rule of thumb is only do this at most once per month.
Facebook Business Page
Similar to Twitter above, but try to keep it to no more than 1 post per day, as people don’t like their Facebook feeds getting cluttered with your news – otherwise they may hide or un-fan you. For this same reason, it’s best not to push all of your Twitter content to Facebook– it’s too much.
Depends on how tied to the business it is, but if it’s a completely separate experience, the same rules above described for a personal Facebook account apply.
This should be your hub for your most well planned and executed content. Try to only make meaningful posts (no quick thoughts, save this for Twitter). If you are not able to post at least once per week you should make it a point to get to that frequency and stick to it.
Have questions about other social networks? Ask about them in the comments below.
So that’s a good overview of considering social media for your business from a time commitment perspective, in our next post on this topic we will look at factors related to the type of business you are in.
Is Social Media Right for My Business? Part II