Large corporations have big budgets and well-staffed marketing departments. If you aren’t a Fortune 500 company, you may find that tough to compete with. Today, you most likely manage your marketing with one or two team members or through an outsourced agency.
You don’t have to feel intimidated by what bigger companies can do with their marketing. Local and Regional businesses can have a big impact by engaging targeted customer groups through social media outlets.
No matter what size your business is, there are several social media platforms to choose from: Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn are just a few that can help you connect with current and prospective customers.
So we’ve all read that Facebook has over 2.1 BILLION active users. And you may be tempted to go there and set up a page for yourself. But for businesses, the landscape of Facebook has changed drastically, causing businesses like The Weather Channel to leave entirely because of diminishing returns.
With that in mind, you’ve got to be savvy about where you decide to market your business. There are over 200 social media sites on the web that allow you to connect with unique customer groups that want to know more about your business.
So just because it may be free and easy to sign up for a social media account for your company, it doesn’t mean you should do it without careful planning.
Social media platforms are a great, affordable way to:
- Establish yourself as an authority in your industry through great content
- Keep your customers and prospects notified about special events and sales
- Connect with your audience in a meaningful, authentic way
One key thing to keep in mind is that you’re trying to leverage online connections to offline sales conversions. Unless you have a purely online business, most of the time, your products and services will be sold offline.
So when you set up your online presence, you need to determine how you will measure success. Ultimately, you need to connect your online data to your actual sales results.
Here are 10 questions you should ask yourself before entering the world of social media:
1. What platforms are right for my business? For example, Pinterest and Instagram are great platforms if you have a more visual product to sell. LinkedIn is great for any business, especially for B2B since it’s geared towards making business connections. As previously stated, Facebook, for businesses both large and small, may not be the right social media platform to use for promoting your business.
When considering what social media platform to use, you should also see where your ideal customer hangs out on social media and meet them there. It may not be the platform you think or like hanging out yourself. So this may take some experimentation and testing to find which platform ultimately gets you prospective clients which convert into long-term clients.
2. Who will manage the day-to-day of your social media efforts? Will it be one person or a team? If more than one person, how will you ensure your social media consistently reflects your brand?
Will you keep your team in-house or hire a freelance social media manager or work with a social media management firm? No matter who you work with, creating brand and social media guidelines is one way you can take to ensure you keep your team aligned.
And whatever you post, it must have your ideal customer in mind. Remember that social media posts help to guide the right prospects to the top of your sales funnel as they begin their buyer’s journey with your company.
3. How will you handle sales inquiries, customer feedback, or customer complaints? For example, there are many businesses who have excellent customer service reps on their social media accounts. If you sell a service or product that requires lightning speed customer service, then you might want to outpost your best customer service reps onto your social media accounts.
Customer service expectations on social media have really changed over time. Today, 84% of consumers expect companies to respond within 24 hours after posting on social media, while 72% of Twitter users expect a response within an hour.
4. Will you create your own content, and/or share others’ content? Creating and finding good content to share takes a lot of time and effort. One important question to ask is whether you will you have an in-house content creator or hire a freelance copywriter or marketing agency.
You want to make sure any content you share is valuable as well as entertaining. Your ideal customer is on the Web looking for solutions, and your content should help them solve some problem.
Sharing your own content can also afford you to link back to your own website and use lead generation campaigns to generate new relationships with potential customers.
5. How often will you post? What days and times are best to reach your audiences? If you’re posting on Facebook has tools to help you find the optimal day and time for optimal engagement.
Other social media management tools like Buffer can also schedule your posts at optimal times. Meet Edgar can help you manage your posts and keep track of your most popular posts.
Eventually, you’ll want to look at your metrics to see which days and times are netting the most engagement and best prospects.
6. What tools will you use to keep your social media posting on a regular schedule and top of mind with your audience? To maintain and grow your audience online, it’s important to post regularly. People will start to expect to see new, fresh content from you at regular times. But sometimes, if business gets busy, it can be easy to let social media slide down on your priority list.
Thankfully, there are many free and subscription-based social media management tools that can support your marketing efforts, such as CoSchedule, Buffer, and Hootsuite that can help you schedule your social media posts ahead of time. Even Facebook allows you to schedule posts ahead of time.
7. What are your objectives? Social media can help enhance and boost your business operations and your social media efforts. It all depends on what you want to do: drive customer engagement? Share new product updates? Improve customer service?
Let’s take sharing new product updates. Social media allows you to share to share about your new product or service to a potentially large audience. If you can get clever, your post could go viral, where many other people share and view your post, and you can find a truckload of new prospective customers. Whether you go viral or not, social media is an easy way to share what’s going on with your business.
There are a lot of things that you can do with social media, to improve engagement, to boost your company’s online profile. But keep the goal in mind: you want more customers and more sales.
8. What tools will use to track the performance of your social media efforts? Social media management tools can not only help you to schedule ahead of time but then can also help you with metrics.
Facebook Business allows you to see how well your posts are doing. Twitter allows you to look at how many impressions your tweets receive and informs you when your tweet starts to go viral. LinkedIn lets you know how many people have viewed your most recent post and if your post starts to take off.
Again, with the scheduling apps like Buffer, you can see how each post is performing and make adjustments to your social media content accordingly.
9. How will you evaluate the effectiveness and ROI of your social media efforts? As fun and free as social media can be, there’s still your company’s bottom line that matters. You’ll want to track the ROI of your social media efforts, to ensure that you’re actually getting profits out of your hard work.
You’ll want to have systems in place that can track people throughout your buyer’s journey, so this involves not only how many eyeballs you get on your social media posts, but how tracking things like customer satisfaction. There are some tools that you can use like Kissmetrics and Google Analytics.
What matters most here is that your goals are clear, which goes back to #7. If you have clear objectives of what you want to improve or work on, then it’s easier to be strategic about how you use social media for your business.
10. How will social media integrate into your overall marketing and business strategy? Social media can be a lot of fun. It can be a more authentic way to reach out to prospective clients and customers. You can show people a more human, relatable side to your business which can create not only customers but fans of your brand. And those fans will do the work of sharing about your company with others.
Social media shouldn’t replace your overall marketing and business strategy. It should enhance it. It should help your business bring in more qualified prospective customers while catering to your already happy customers. So if you’re working on a new marketing campaign, then social media should be a part of that campaign.
These are just a few of the questions you need to consider before launching your business into social media. When used strategically, social media can be a powerful tool for your business. You can create real, meaningful connections, human to human (H2H), regardless of whether you’re B2B or B2C.