Many small business marketers avoid social media marketing because of the expectation that it will take too much time. However, we’ve seen clients benefit from as little as two hours a month on social media. Such benefits include:
- Facilitating communication with clients, vendors, job seekers and customers
- Increasing organic visibility by getting more content out on the web
- Helping to populate SERPs with positive listings when prospective customers research your company by name (and many do!)
- Building brand awareness
- Increasing incoming links to your site from social venue connections and from other sites when people share your announcements; some of these links may help increase search rankings for your web site or social venues as well as bring targeted traffic to your web site or social venues
What To Post
Almost anything newsworthy can be announced. Some ideas:
- New services, new or updated technology, new offerings, etc.
- Facilities changes
- New partnerships
- Key personnel changes
- Just about any charity event in which you participate
- New testimonials (we show clients how to actively get testimonials and reviews, write them up and post announcements about them on social venues as well as use on them on their websites (see How To Get Good Reviews & Testimonials That Drive Business)
- Events — yours or the ones at which you participate
- Awards and recognition your company or staff receives
- Press releases (if you do online press releases already, then summarize and announce each one on your social networks, too)
- Repurposed company content
- News and useful information about your industry from others — you’re probably already keeping up on information about your industry, and if you see something that would be newsworthy or useful to your audience (your social connections), summarize it and announce it on your social channels with links to the original source when appropriate — however, don’t go overboard on this
Tip: Think Twice About Too Many Updates. I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating. I have some connections that post so often that I’m afraid to say I ignore all their updates — there are just too many. Yes, all these updates can increase your visibility, but too many updates may keep your human connections from noticing the important ones — and it’s engagement with your human connections that’s really important.
It’s not about the quantity of posts, as many think. Even a couple of posts a month is enough for some real benefits. Here’s the process we roll out with our clients.
• Choose 3-5 social media channels like Google+, LinkedIn, YouTube (see below for more info about which social sites you might employ).
• Set up your profile across your selected social media channels. Yes, you will need invest some time in setting up your social accounts when you get started, but you can phase them in one at time over a few months. Most of them let you include a banner image, and creating a branded banner images does require time and design resources; however, you can go without one at least to get started. (These banner images are great for branding and can help convey a good first impression, so consider producing them even if you have to hire someone to do them for you.)
• Post your content/updates to the appropriate channel(s). Which channel you use will depend on the type of update: videos will go on a channel like YouTube or Vimeo; image updates work best on Instagram, Pinterest or Facebook; links to informative blog posts or articles work well on Facebook or LinkedIn; longer content updates are best on Google+ or a company blog.
• Cross-promote and repurpose content where applicable. For example, one of our clients, a Connecticut insurance agency, posts one or two helpful PDF articles or videos that are produced by a central insurance supplier each month. We put the videos up on their YouTube channel. We then embed the video or PDF in their Tips & Info page on their website (they don’t have a blog) and announce the update via social channels like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.
• Make basically the same announcements across your social channels, but change up the wording/format to best match the medium. It takes us about 20-30 minutes to post on 3-5 accounts. On many social networks, entering a URL into the status box will create a decent update for you, but you may wish to edit it where allowed.
Tip: Do Your Updates Manually. It’s possible to link some of your social media accounts together so that if you make an announcement on one, it automatically appears on others. I’d suggest you do your announcements manually so that you can edit them to create the most effective posts for each channel. It’s worth the extra few minutes this takes. Plus, the timing for automatic announcements may not be ideal. For example, we may put a video up on YouTube early on a Monday morning, but wait until later in the day (when more of our target audience is online) to share it.
• Build up connections. Take some time to build connections on each social network, as these are the people who may see your updates and engage with them. Building connections only takes a few minutes each day and doesn’t necessarily require a ton of work. You can do some relatively simple tasks such as adding links to your social profiles in email signatures and on your website. Also cross link your social accounts when available. For example, on YouTube you can add links to many of your other social profiles, and these appear right on your channel image.
What Social Channels Should You Use?
Before you decide what social channels to use, take a look at what’s working for others in your market. Check out some of the industry leaders — or perhaps top rankers for some of your important keywords — and see what social media sites they participate on. Don’t just look at the amount of posts, but rather look for signs of engagement such as comments, likes, shares, etc.
Which social networks you utilize will ultimately depend on where your target audience is most active. Here are some you might consider:
• LinkedIn. LinkedIn is especially good for B2B companies, but B2C companies whose target audience includes educated professionals can benefit from this social network as well. You can start with just an opening page to save time, then add more pages (such as Product & Service pages) later. For more on when and how to set up a LinkedIn company page, see this guide.
• Google+.This is a great social network for any business, but especially those targeting a tech-savvy audience. Google+ is a good alternative to a blog for posting lengthy content because you can link directly to Google+ posts from other social venues. It also integrates seamlessly with YouTube. Additionally, setting up a Google+ Local Place page is an absolute must for local businesses.
• Facebook. As the most popular social networking site in the US, the UK and Canada, it’s likely that your target audience exists on Facebook if you’re marketing to consumers in those countries — so a company Facebook page is almost certainly a must. Facebook is especially good for sharing news stories, images and videos — you can share text updates as well, but these may not get as much exposure in the News Feed.
• YouTube. If you have video content available, then consider setting up a company YouTube channel.
• Twitter. I’ll admit I’m not very active on Twitter — I only use it for announcements and occasionally when trying to learn something in real time (like UCONN scores). But Twitter is a heavy hitter within the social sphere, and it’s easy to set up and start using. And, unlike Facebook, you can engage directly with users even if they are not following your brand, making it easier to expand your presence and make new connections without advertising.
• Instagram/Pinterest. If you have a lot of visual content, consider making an account for your company on image-oriented networks such as Instagram or Pinterest. These social networks are especially good for businesses in industries such as travel, fashion, home decor, food/beverage and art.
To Get More Out Of Social Media Marketing, It Takes A Content Strategy
Spending just a couple of hours a month on social media marketing can deliver some real benefits. There are more benefits available from social media marketing; however, to obtain them usually requires a content strategy and more than a couple hours a month (and likely some expenditures). You’ll need to develop and market useful, interesting and unique content such as articles or videos.
By developing and posting useful or interesting content, you can take your social media marketing to a much higher level. In addition, employing a content strategy can help you build a reputation by showcasing your expertise, which can lead to new business.
Finally, it’s unique content that is most likely to get engaged with (shared, linked to, etc.) which can lead to more incoming links to your website(s) and social profiles. These links can bring targeted traffic and will likely help improve organic results. See Related Entries below for ideas for content marketing.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.