We all come into social media at different times and levels, not to mention unique comfort levels. So where do you start?
First, do you know why you want to use social media? It’s important that you WANT to do it, and that you’re not just doing what everyone says, because it really isn’t for everyone. It’s fast, demanding, and relentless, but it you’re up for it, really fun!
“The top two benefits of social media marketing are increasing exposure and increasing traffic. A significant 90% of all marketers [surveyed] indicated their social media efforts have generated more exposure for their business.”(2015 Social Media Marketing Industry Report – Social Media Examiner)
Just to make sure that you’re on board, let’s talk about some more benefits of social media:
- Increases brand awareness
- Gives your business a human feel
- Facilitates referral marketing
- Provides a way to communicate with your audience directly
- Builds trust through consistency and familiarity
- Increases customer loyalty
Sold? I am!
For people with little or no team to support them, I think it comes down to a lot of questions that need answering before you begin. Have a pretty good idea where you’re coming from and where you want to go, and the rest will fall into place.
What’s your mission?
This is where your passion lies. Find that and your purpose for being out there in social media will shine through and attract the right people.
What’s your brand?
Others choose your brand, not you. If you asked 5 people to describe you or your company in 3 words, what do they say? If they come up with descriptors that are congruent with your self-image, great! If not, you know you have work to do, but regardless, you’ll want to project your brand as you “social.”
What’s your goal?
If you’re a for-profit company, of course you want to make sales, but email marketing is better at accomplishing that directly. Here are some possible goals to consider:
- Creating an audience
- Engaging with potential clients
- Enticing potential clients onto your mailing list
- Building your brand
- Being a resource for the problems you solve
- Driving people to your website
I suggest that you focus on just one or a couple of goals to give them the attention they deserve before moving onto the next goal.
What type of persona do you want to project?
This is a little like your brand, but different. In my area of the social media world, there are people known as being “news-breakers” who keep us informed with the latest updates, and then there are the “motivators” who inspire us. The “teachers” tell us how to do things. Some gifted ones are “entertainers” who share valuable information while making us laugh. You’ll want your persona (or combination of personas) to shine through and create consistency for your audience.
Who is your ideal client?
It’s challenging for some people to do a social media post. They think the entire world will see it and judge them. If you have your ideal client in mind, and pretend that you are talking just to her, it’s a piece of cake. Know your ideal client explicitly and everything becomes easier. This helps you to attract just the right people for you and your business.
What problem are you solving for your ideal client?
What should you post? Something that helps your ideal client, of course. What does she need? What keeps her up at night? How is she leaving money on the table? What can you help her do to save her time and money? Bingo.
What social media channels do you gravitate towards?
Facebook? LinkedIn? Twitter? Pinterest? YouTube? You want to be where you feel authentic and comfortable. Every channel has a different personality, and one will suit you more than others. It’s okay not to be everywhere. I’d rather you do one channel very well, and then you can cross promote on other channels later.
Some platforms will make more sense based on the business that you have. For example, my professional dog walking client snaps photos of her dog clients on a regular basis, posts them to Instagram, and then they display automatically on her website. It was a natural for her!
Where do your clients hangout?
Ask yourself where your clients hangout on social media. I recommend Facebook for mostly everyone, but if you’re an accountant or attorney, for example, LinkedIn might be a better fit for connecting with potential clients. Do some online marketing research and see where leaders in your field hangout the most.
Are you optimized?
Optimizing your social media platform or channel is just a matter of adding great images and “filling everything out.” This can be time consuming and tedious, but you want to do it thoroughly so that people find you through organic searches.
You may want to hire someone to make sure that your images are consistent with your brand across all your channels and your marketing messages as well. Seize opportunities for cross promoting to your website and other social media platforms. To learn more, check out this article by Social Media Examiner on optimizing.
What content are you going to share?
You’re going to want a plan, Stan! With your goal, brand, and persona in mind, what does your ideal client need and want? I’ve come up with this mix for my clients to get you started:
Blog posts: this is your original content that showcases your expertise. This is so important for your website’s SEO and is magnified by social sharing.
Informational shares: this is where you share other blog posts in the industry (peers, experts, online magazines) that will be useful to your ideal clients. These posts demonstrate that you are up-to-date on the latest and greatest in your industry.
Quotes on images: people like these. They can inform, inspire, motivate, or just be a breath of fresh air in our manic world.
Videos: are great because they help people get to know the real you (building that “know, like, trust” factor prior to purchasing from you) while you provide value.
Tips: You’re an expert at something. Create 100 tips and add them to a branded image and share over time.
Questions: Ask your audience questions to get them engaged. Ask their opinion on things, get their advice, have them help you make decisions between A and B. Get them involved. It’s really fun!
Personal Shares: This is so hard for many, and yet I see some that are so gifted and natural at it. But really, this can be learned, even if you’re an introvert (and my hand is raised there). Keeping in mind that you mostly want to be positive and not dip into controversial topics (unless that’s your brand), you just want to share little aspects of yourself.
Examples include: what you’re up to, a new tool you like, an event that you’re going to, what you’re excited about (even the weather). Pictures of you doing your “thang” such as networking, speaking, doing a webinar, etc., are great. You’ll find that your personal shares can get the most organic reach. (Check out my freebie: 30 Social Media Conversational Starters here.)
Promotions: Yep, I saved this one for last even though I know that you want to do this one the most, but don’t! I recommend that no more that 10-20% of your posts be promotional in nature. And, by the way, I include your website’s free offer as a promotion, as well as a testimonial or review of your product or service.
If you promote too much, you’ll turn people off. Instead earn their trust by giving away a ton of free content that gets them on your mailing list. Then, over time, when they get to know and like you, they’ll be buying what you offer that solves their problem.
When will you share your social media posts?
You’ll want to develop a social media calendar for updating your audience. In that process, you’ll determine how many times a day to post and what time of day. A fast-moving platform like Twitter may require many posts a day to reach your community. On a platform like LinkedIn, however, you might share just once a day. You’ll want to make room in your social media calendar for your promotional events and sandwich them between other types of shares so that you don’t wear out your welcome with your audience.
How will you make time to personally engage with your audience?
Social media is all about connecting and making relationships. Just like you don’t ask someone to marry you on the first date, you don’t ask people to buy from you the first time they see you either. Develop the relationship over time.
You may want to hire a virtual assistant or social media manager to curate your content, create eye-catching images, and schedule everything, BUT, when it comes to liking, commenting and interacting with your audience, I highly recommend that you do this yourself. This is an important part of your marketing, and it’s essential to not leave it to someone else.
How will you fit this into your schedule?
Besides considering working with a social media manager, avail yourself of the low-cost/no cost tools for curating content, creating images, and scheduling content. My favorites are Buffer, Hootsuite, Canva, and Feedly.
How will you know what you’re doing is working?
Start with your goal. If your goal was to build an audience, you’ll want to track how many people are following you on social media, and if that has increased. If your goal is to increase the size of your mailing list, then monitor the size of your list.
There’s a lot more statistics that you can follow too. On Facebook, for example, pop into your Insights to quickly see which posts are getting the most reach, interaction, and at what times of day, just for starters.
And what’s my best advice regarding all this? Stick with it. Your ongoing commitment to social media, in the end, will determine your success. Even a post that goes viral (never a great goal – it just happens), will only last for a short time. By being someone that people can count on over time to provide information that helps them, you’ll grow an audience that will follow you with their pocketbook.
Kristy Schnabel of It’s Virtually Done is a social media & online marketing strategist who helps entrepreneurs with quick & easy social media strategies to boost their business. She’s been profitable online for 11+ years and relishes helping others master new technologies. When she’s not online, you can find her swimming miles for her next open water swim vacation, hiking in the forest with her dog, Aubrey, or walking at the Oregon Coast with her husband Larry.