social media marketing strategy for small businesses

Social Media Marketing Strategy for Small Businesses

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We often develop social media strategy for our small- and mid-size clients. As we do, we continuously note the importance of having a plan that reaches well beyond the creation of accounts on every social media outlet known to man. We continuously remind our clients that, without a plan, many of their peers are actually doing more harm than good with their social presence. As part of strengthening a small- to mid-size business brand, a strategic social approach is required in order to yield the best possible results. So what makes up a successful social media marketing strategy?

Address your target audience

There are two fundamental approaches to social media marketing, we call them “shotgun” and “laser beam”. The shotgun approach is less focused and relies on putting out as much varied content as possible, appealing to different target audiences at different times. Taking a wide aim at your target audiences can yield scattered results from the various potential clients. A laser beam approach, on the other hand, is more targeted. With the laser beam approach, businesses identify a specific target audience and create a campaign designed to elicit a particular response from this group. As part of our marketing process, we determine whether a wide shotgun approach or a narrow laser beam approach is right for each of our clients.

How do you define success?

So far, you’ve:

  • Selected your target audience;
  • Decided on a particular approach;
  • Put together a social media plan; and
  • Implemented it across the appropriate social media channels.

The question is “How do you define success?” Will you look at the total number of views for each piece of content you put out there? Will you look at the number of visitors coming to your website from each of the social media outlets? Will you look at the number of Facebook fans, Twitter followers, YouTube subscribers, etc.?

Call to action

The answer is found in the actions your audiences take. Any good marketing effort, including a social media strategy, uses effective calls to action. You worked hard to gain the attention of your target audiences. If you don’t provide clear, succinct direction to guide their actions, you may just as quickly lose them. Should they call you? Email you? Watch a video? Subscribe to a mailing list? Share your content? The answer to this question always lies in how you define success. If your call to action is in contrast with your definition of success, your social media strategy will almost always “appear” to fail. Think about it this way. Suppose you decided to measure the success of your social media marketing by looking at the number of visitors to your website, but your call to action promotes “likes” on Facebook. You may see an increase in Facebook “likes” but not a significant increase in website visitors. While based on your defined metric, the program was only mildly successful, we would consider a sharp increase in social media followers to be an extremely valuable indicator of success.

How to best address your target audience

How do you address your target market? What’s the writing style and tenor of the voice? Your audience may respond best to a formal approach, or may find a personal or humorous voice more appealing. Understanding how to best engage your audience is an integral part of your brand and marketing. Whatever approach you choose, make sure it is consistent with your overall brand and is similarly presented in everything from your corporate website to your email marketing and your collateral materials.

Track the results

It’s amazing to see how many businesses put together plans, from search engine optimization to a social media strategy, but then fail to track to results. Tracking marketing results is the only way to measure Return on Investment (ROI). Although ROI calculations for social media marketing campaigns can be complex, they are an essential part of the process. Without tracking, you’re simply spending money and then hoping for the best. We know that ROI is calculated by looking at:

(Return – Investment)

Clearly, this ties to how you define your return. Any small business deciding to invest in a social media marketing effort must first understand and put a value on each new follower, fan and subscriber they gain. In addition, you may want to look at total revenue, gross profit and net profit as indicators of a positive return.

Final words

Nowadays, more small- and mid-size businesses are leveraging the power of social media marketing than ever before. Building an online community is an effective way to increase brand awareness and brand equity. It’s important to remember that building an online community is only the first step. To maximize ROI a company must then use it’s social community to incentivize buying and promote future social initiatives.

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