A wise and savvy small business owner will use all the resources available to help grow his or her business. The emergence of social media marketing, and its correct usage, is an often low-cost or even free way to do just that.
Like anything else, theres a right and wrong way to properly execute a social media campaign. Here are some tips to consider:
Have a plan. Consider this to be a series of questionsyour plan should address who your audience is or will be, what messages you will have for them, what you can offer them thats different from your competition. How will you measure your success? If youre not able to effectively answer all of these questions, or youre unsure of your answers, then you arent ready to make the jump yet. You should gather the information that you need before moving forward. Without the proper plan in place, you wont be happy with your social networking results, or will have a hard time knowing if you're efforts are successful.
Do the research. There are many social networks available, possibly some youve never heard of. Each serves a particular purpose for its target audience. Some are for personal contacts, somelike LinkedIn, for exampleare designed for business networking. Its often best to start with a blog that serves as a sort of depot for your online content, and can serve to aggregate it from across all your social media. For example: if you own a landscaping company, you might post different entries on several different social media sites. Its likely that a customer doesnt visit every one of those sites, so that customer is missing out on important information. If you had all these postings collected in one central arealike your company blogyour customers wouldnt have to search the Internet to find them. Also, someone who stumbled onto one of your postings on a social media site and wanted more information could follow the link from that site to your companys blog.
Develop relevant and timely content on a routine basis. How many times have you clicked on your email applications 'Refresh' or 'Get Mail' button, waiting for an important email, only to find nothing new? Dont make your customers wait a long time for new content. Develop a schedule and stick to it! Educate your customers on what to expect, and when. For example: Friday is Weekly Sale day, when you post any sales you have scheduled for the upcoming week. Tuesday is Two-Fer Day, when you post which things are buy-one-get-one free today. Your Backyard Garden column is posted every Wednesday. You get the idea. Its been said that the building blocks of any online community that is doing well are users and content. Keep it coming.
Listen. Carefully monitor social for mentions of your brand/product/company. Have a plan ready to document any such mentions, and stand ready to take action (if thats the appropriate course) to defend against accusations, answer questions, provide guidance, or whatever might be the case. By promptly responding it shows that you care about your business and its customers.
Prepare a budget.