In this blog, I lay out a simple social media strategy for small businesses and startups. An approach that helps them plan their social media budget smartly and get the best results from the expenditure they make online.
Social Media Marketing is a Digital Marketing domain which is hugely popular and looks most accessible and easy to implement for small businesses and startup owners.
This blog is a simple journey to help you save the headache of finding a digital marketing agency and taking your social media strategy in your own hands.
As per a recent study, Internet-based businesses such as ecommerce have been able to grow organically only because of the promotion they have done on social media.
A business of 2.4 million is generated every minute by ecommerce companies because of social media websites such as Instagram and Facebook.
From brand awareness to direct sales, social media has become an indispensable part of the digital marketing strategy of small and medium businesses.
A well-structured social media strategy is a must for any brand in today’s competitive digital landscape.
A structured approach to social media can help in achieving marketing goals, make loyal customers, boost search engine ranking, and keep customers engaged for a long time.
And social media marketing is not complicated. Social media strategy is minus all the technical terms you hear in SEO or Email Marketing.
As far as I know, social media marketing is the first step to Digital Marketing for every small business and startup owner.
Here are five simple steps to set up a simple Social Media Marketing Strategy for Small Businesses and Startups:
1# Use Social Media Tools for Customer Support and to listen to Client Feedback:
Happy customers make the most valuable asset for any brand. They could go on to become lifetime buyers and give recurring business for as long as they are using the product/service you are offering.
As per the latest study, more than 30% of customers prefer to contact brands via social media. (source : http://www.jdpower.com/press-releases/2013-social-media-benchmark-study)
What I infer from the above research is that Clients find it easy to communicate with brands via social media than traditional methods of customer support.
Things to do to keep customers happy –
- Improve customer service:
It is the best thing you can do to ensure customer satisfaction. Online buyers feel confident when they have the assurance that all their queries will be remedied in the shortest possible time.
While phone and email remain the primary tools for customer service, social media can add more value to this service. In reality, handling customer queries becomes easier on social media, especially Twitter. (read: Twitter for small businesses).
Moreover, the use of social media will make your customer service more accessible, responsible, and reliable.
Most of the CRM Solutions (Zoho, Salesforce, Agile CRM, etc.) today offer an add-on functionality for you to convert the direct messages, feedbacks received on social media into Tickets. The tickets are further used by your team to attend to the grievances of clients.
- Transparency in communication:
Brands feel pride in showing positive feedbacks from customers, but most brands shy away from sharing negative reviews and complaints from unsatisfied customers.
If brands start attending to negative feedbacks by sending tailor-made messages to each complaint, there will be a better trust built between them and their brand followers. I have personally had great success in using Twitter to reach to brands
Here is an interaction I had with digital donut about publishing one of my articles I wrote for them. They were prompt with their response and kept their promise of publishing the article on time:
On the other hand, I had to chase another brand on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook to get a response from them.
They were as lazy as possible and left me wondering – if anyone is operating their social media accounts? Anyways, I am not going to talk about them, but that is how social media works.
You either give superior support and make lifelong fans, or you leave behind a series of grumpy customers who tweet about your pathetic service.
My suggestion for small business owners is easy to implement – only have a social media account, if you can attend to queries from clients or fans online.
Do not publish five social media accounts on your visiting card and then not respond to queries, when someone writes to you. It is impossible to keep all the customers satisfied, but it is possible to answer every query asked on social media.
2# Focus on building a brand:
Social media is more like a meeting point than a tool for networking. It establishes direct contact between brands and customers. Here you can tell more about your brand and make the customers listen to your brand story.
Do the following things to build a brand –
- Tell a story:
Let’s take an example of an ecommerce website. Now, Ecommerce branding isn’t all about showcasing products or educating consumers about the benefits of those products.
On social media, you can do many things in addition to displaying your products.
Visual nature of social media allows you to create a lifestyle using words and pictures that further help to describe your products in the best possible manner. Also, you can improvise your social media strategy by helping viewers relate to your products/services as a part of their lifestyle.
It will help viewers get a feel for the product offered, and they will be interested in knowing more about the product.
Here is a perfect example of a story told ideally by
- Create brand heroes:
You do not have to call upon Superman and Spiderman to create brand heroes. They are bloody expensive! (Check the fees paid to avenger and Superman star cast 🙂 )
All you need is a face that makes you more recognizable. In addition to creating a lifestyle, you can use the names and faces of the people working hard to create a brand name for your business.
How about you become the face of your brand? Or Let your employees share the work culture of the company on the internet? Even your customers can be the face of your brand.
People want to relate brands to individuals.
3# Focus on User engagement than vanity numbers:
You have strengthened your customer care service and introduced your brand to the targeted audience.
Now is the time to increase user engagement with your brand.
The increase in user engagement only happens when the right content is posted.
For quality content, you can use –
- User-generated content:
User Generate Content or UGC is quality content available free of cost. Users generate a lot of content in different ways, like comments, feedback, suggestion, and pictures.
What you must do is – publish the content from users in a way that relates to your brand.
Users should feel rewarded and encouraged to generate more content.
How about you give freebies from time to time to reward users who contribute to User Generated Content.
- Value-added content:
User-generated content is unique and exciting, but it has less appeal in comparison to the value-added content like news stories related to the brand.
Users can make content shareable, but they can add little value to it. For more value, you need to give your users a reason to visit your site. And that reason could be a news piece, update, offers, or just anything related to your brand.
- Timely content:
Social media is brimming with content, and more content is waiting to be uploaded and published.
Still, we see content posted at a time when no user is online or displayed at a time when the content’s impact has fizzled.
For example, the content you are publishing might be published elsewhere a long time back.
Until and unless your content has better value and is getting more traction, you will not be able to compete with the old story. Posting the content at the right time is an important step to succeed in social media marketing.
The best thing you can do is to monitor trending topics and create content related to those topics.
4# Buy Social Media Ads for better promotion:
In social media marketing, there are times your page can take a long time to connect to the right customer base. Unfortunately, time is not a luxury you will always have.
At this stage, you must take the help of social media advertisements to promote your brand.
To advertise using paid methods on social media, you can use:
- Structured targeting: Facebook provides an opportunity for targeted individuals with a specific interest or specific groups of people. For instance, a baby product website can target expected mothers and couples who’re getting best wishes for their babies.
- Functional content: When you run paid content, social media channels let you use “call-to-action” buttons to direct social media users to your website. CTA should be so used that it interests the viewers and encourages them to know more about the brand by clicking on the link.
5# Stay alert for latest trends:
Social media is the most happening place on the web. The “happening place” also happens to move very fast. Trends change every minute. You need to be on top of the trends to know how social media is changing.
This habit will help you create content that is in line with the latest trends.
Here is how you can stay updated with the latest trends:
- Keep an eye on social media:
Social media changes every second.
You should prepare a team of social media enthusiasts to monitor social media and report you on the performance of your social media campaigns.
Buzzsumo is a fantastic tool to help you stay updated with the latest social media trends.
- Employees for brand promotion:
Use employees for promoting your brand across social media channels.
Think of this activity as a raising an army of dedicated social media soldiers who can help you generate awareness on the internet.
- Influencer marketing:
Keep an eye on what influencers are updating on their page. 8 out of 10 times, you will find influencers updating the right trend in the industry. Follow them, and you will have your ears to the ground.
Social Media Marketing is not rocket science. Unlike, SEO it is less technical and relies more on good content.
Keep it simple and stick to the five steps to help you carve out a simple yet effective social media strategy for your business.
I am confident it will help you create a better connection with your target audience.