Social media marketing is a great tool that all small businesses can use to stay competitive and grow their business. One of the biggest barriers to small businesses using such a powerful tool is time. But while small businesses are incredibly time-starved, social media does not have to be the big time suck most think it is.
The two questions I heard over and over at this year’s Social Media Week in San Francisco were: “How should I manage time I can allocate to social marketing?” and “What should I use to help make sure my time spent is worth it for me?” People generally want to control their time dedicated to social media, but they are scared and unsure how to do so. So how can businesses take control of their time and get the most out of their investment in social media?
Develop a plan. As a marketer on any level, you have to start with your goal in mind. It’s important to know what action you want your fans, followers and connections to take. Do you want them to use a coupon you are offering? Read exclusive content they can only get through your Facebook page, or share a great tip or video?
One idea that really stuck with me was the concept of telling a story. We have all read them or know a story to tell, and it is really no different with marketing. Think of the marketer as an author. As author, you have to know what you want the end to be to write the details to get there. Knowing what that “story” is will save time and help you create a plan that puts you on the path to success.
Tell a story that truly represents you and your organization. We all know what makes our business great and unique, so bring this into your story and relate it to your audience. In today’s highly connected world, marketers are constantly fighting for the time and attention of their audience, and it’s not just with other brands. It’s with pictures of our friends’ kids, articles posted by college roommates and the latest “must-see” viral video.
To win, you need to post things that your audience can connect with and relate to as well as feel passionate about. Presenters at a few panels referred to a poll they took of a group of social users. Two-thirds of that group logged into their social networks several times per day.
Everyone has heard the phrase “content is king,” but the truth really is “good content is king.” You know your business and customers better than anyone else, so create content that they can relate to and will want to share with their friends.
Take advantage of a few good resources. Every successful marketer has their go-to tools. These can be anything from an application, to a contact or even a forum of experts. A few great applications that were mentioned were Nutshell Mail, Hootsuite, TweetDeck, and of course the actual platforms themselves. Sometimes asking your Twitter followers and Facebook fans a question directly can be one of the best ways to gather feedback and advice.
Out of everything presented over the course of the week, one thing stood out for small businesses: Starting with the basics is key. You can’t hit a home run before learning how to swing a bat. Get comfortable with how the systems operate before you start to use a third-party tool. Once you understand how each platform works, it will be much easier to integrate different tools and use them successfully.
Jamie Self is the social campaign sales team leader at Constant Contact. Follow Jamie on Twitter @jself03.