Small businesses need to develop a plan for building, implementing and managing activity for social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn
Although larger businesses may have been the earliest adopters of social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn for business promotions, small businesses are quickly realizing that a social media presence is equally important for them. And with new social media outlets like Pinterest, Google+ and Instagram becoming more and more popular, social media has become a powerful tool for businesses.
But the problem of understanding how to effectively use these social media outlets – from initially building a presence to managing ongoing activity – can be a challenging obstacle.
The use of social media sites is a powerful free marketing tool, but there are considerations that need to be made before jumping into a program. The biggest problem that many small businesses face is that they don’t put together a plan or strategy beyond setting up the initial accounts. Just having a presence isn’t necessarily good enough. It needs to be well-managed, integrated and represent a business’ brand in a consistent manner.
Small Business Social Media Plans and Strategies
The fact that you are reading this article shows that you understand the importance of planning before implementing a marketing program. Without a plan of action, valuable resources (time or money) can be wasted because the program is either not as effective as it should be for your business.
Some questions you should ask prior to implementing a social media plan are:
- Which social media accounts should I use for my business? (such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or others)
- How will I brand my business on each social media outlet?
- How will I build up an audience for each social media outlet? For example, should I consider a Facebook ‘like’ promotion to get started?
- How much time do I want to devote to maintaining fresh content feeds to each social media account?
- Do I have adequate staff to support and manage each social media account?
- How do I plan to integrate each social media outlet into other marketing activities? (such as website, blog or email marketing)
- What technical resources may be needed for social media integrations?
- What graphic resources are needed to create logos for website links and special logos for each social media account? (for example, when setting up a Facebook business page you’ll want a profile picture that uses your logo and/or special page name)
- What level of performance (sign-ups, impressions, interactions, website links, sales) will be considered successful for each social media outlet?
Answers to these questions about how your business will utilize and manage each social media account will help formulate a strategy for your overall social media plan. Of course many of these questions will likely result in more detailed questions as you build out your plan of approach for each social media account.
Strategies for Implementing a Management Plan for Social Media Accounts
Once each account is set-up, the key to success will be effective ongoing management of each social media account.
Here are some suggestions to consider when implementing a management plan for your social media accounts:
- Establish at least one person within your business to manage social media accounts (one back-up person is also a good idea). Make sure there is a clear owner for each social media account will ensure accountability for ongoing management. A back-up person will help keep content flowing when the main person is unavailable and can also help interject fresh ideas when needed.
- Set-up as many content feeds as possible (such as news feeds from your blog or website into Facebook or Twitter, feeds from Facebook to Twitter, feeds from Facebook and Twitter to LinkedIn). Setting up content feeds will help automate fresh content.
- Put together a content creation plan for creating ongoing social media posts and interactions. This plan could include basic ideas about content sources or a brainstorming session to build a content pipeline for your business. Be sure your content sources are not entirely promotional for your business – keep content interesting with posts about relevant news within your industry as much as possible.
- Once every few months, plan to take a step back to re-evaluate strategies and results with each social media outlet. Expand on strategies that worked and eliminate ideas that are not producing desired results.
Ongoing management of social media accounts, combined with the constant struggle to create new and interesting content, can be one of the most challenging parts of a social media plan. Be ready to make adjustments to social media strategies to keep things fresh and adaptable to your market conditions. The use of social media management tools and dashboards can also help streamline the process and be invaluable in social media success.
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