Tuesday, April 25, 2017

How to Build a Simple Social Media Strategy for a New Small Business

For some, starting a small business is a dream come true. It’s one of the most exciting times in an entrepreneur’s career, getting what you’ve imagined and scribbled down on paper into a living, breathing entity. Now it’s time to share this with the world, but where do we begin?

Some small businesses live and breath online. Take online food businesses for example, which use social media as their primary channel for advertising. Even starting a podcast can be a great way to get your business off the ground (all the while earning extra cash).

It’s true that not every avenue available is the best one to go down, but today we’re going to go over a few key examples to getting your social off the ground and running.

Start Out with What You Know

To begin, look at the social channels you’re already using. Does your brand/company fit in these places? Sure, a local bakery might work great on Facebook or Instagram, but promoting their creations on LinkedIn might not be the most advantageous place.

It’s important to figure out where your product lives in your potential customer’s feed, as well as how you want them to behave with a post. Sometimes a simple “like” or “comment” is enough, but in other instances, we might be after a different type of engagement, such as discussion and sharing.

Finally, it’s important to note that before you go out spending on advertising for these platforms, make sure you know what’s been successful for your business before. Advertising on platforms such as Instagram can genuinely drive sales if there’s a proven strategy implemented first.

It’s Okay to Use Familiar Tricks

A lot of the strategies we use for small businesses on social media are many of the same for advertising in general, only in just a different medium.

An excellent example of this is the power of social proof. As social proof is the valued opinion of our peers, there’s no better place for that than social media. Not only are you provided metrics of success in real time (coming in the form of likes, comments, etc.), you’re additionally able to have celebrity or tastemaker endorsements in a genuine place. People are more likely to believe that their favorite celebrity is a fan of your product if it comes from their personal social channels, which also gives you a much larger reach into their audience as well.

Another great example of traditional advertising used on social is product features, promotions, and events. As these are core marketing points for small business, they’re especially crucial online.

For these, my best advice would be to let them come naturally as business occurs. If you know you’re going to have a new product drop this week, set up a photo shoot ahead of time and plan out/schedule your posts around it. Additionally, any events coming up can be promoted in this way, as well as when new/exciting stuff happens in your business or community.

Finally, I’ll note that sometimes traditional networking might be your best way of engaging online. While yes, it’s stupidly simple, it’s also one of the most effective ways of interacting with your user base. Take the time to scope out the types of individuals you want in your store and follow them while also leaving comments/posts they can actually respond to.

A lot of brands fail when it comes to direct networking as they tend to come off as “ingenuine.” We’ve all seen it before where a company tries to “talk with us” by commenting “nice shirt!” on a picture of something we just picked up at Belk. We know Steven’s Burgershack doesn’t really care about our shirt, they just want us to visit their page. Does it work? Well, we usually visit the page, but visiting their shop? That’s another story.

Keep It Authentic     

Whatever you decide to do with your social channels, the most important strategy of all is simple: keep your branding as authentic as the work you’ve put into it. People want to be friends with your brand, which means they want to be friends with the people behind it. Invite them into that world without fear, because they could not only become fans, but a community as well. While it may seem like a daunting task, a successful social media channel is one that drives the conversation. Once you achieve that, you’ll be able to build relationships that will last a lifetime.

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