As a small business owner, trying to decide where to spend your marketing dollars can be overwhelming. You know marketing is a must, but so is keeping the lights on. The easiest thing to do often seems to take the traditional route – local newspaper ads, coupons in the neighborhood ‘saver’, and building a basic website. But the thing is, while that route makes some sense, don’t forget about building a digital marketing program that includes solid social media. And the cost can be very manageable.
But social media can also be really baffling. How do you start? How do you know what channel is most beneficial for your business? And how do you get the results you want?
Here are 8 internet marketing steps that will set you on the right social media program path:
1. Research all available platforms
There are new social media networks popping up every day. Make a list that includes the usual leaders – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Tumblr – read up on them and then go a step further. Watch each of them for a few weeks. If you do, you will pretty much find out what audience and demographic they attract. And what their personality is. For example – LinkedIn is almost all about business and business people. Other platforms are a bit more casual.
2. Pick three platforms to get you started
Pick the platforms that match your target audience. Build a profile on each. And start posting – often. You should place new company info, offers, product announcements, etc. at least once a week. Cross-platform integration will make these easier to manage. Once you get comfortable with three, do more research and add more platforms to your social media kit.
Blogging is not as scary as you think. WordPress or Blogger will walk you through the technical process. The most important part of blogging is good content. (More on that later.) A good. well-written blog that is shared effectively gets readers and grows an audience. Write what you know about to the audience that is interested – and go local. If you sell bikes in San Diego, talk about the best biking routes, or events, or products popular in that city. If you become known as the expert, they will not only buy your product, they will recommend it. The most likely place for your blog is your website, but it can also be elsewhere. Research other great blog venues.
No matter how good your message is, it’s no good if no one sees it. So connect. Make it easy on yourself by starting with established customers, friends, and even family. Network with them on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. They know you and trust you so they will likely share your content with others. You can also search these same sites to see who is interested in and commenting on the kind of product or service you offer. Start a conversation and/or connect with them. If you have a brick and mortar location, make sure your customers know about your blog – and all of your social media presence.
5. Good Content
This is important – – If you aren’t sure of your writing skills, hire an expert to write in your voice for both your blog and your other social media postings. Poorly written, stale or boring content can be very damaging to your social media profile and overall marketing program. Use the keywords your target customer will use when they search. Write about what you know – just like your sixth grade english teacher told you to. Encourage interaction by using polls or surveys or asking for photos. Do this through all of your chosen channels. And write about current, trending topics that resonate with your target audience and help soothe their pain points. But remember to keep top of mind the ‘social’ part of social media – don’t sell too hard.
6. Get your content out there!
LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook cross-connect if you use them right. Just set them up to link with each other. And a good place to start connecting, no matter who your target market, is LinkedIn. Check out the Groups area of LinkedIn and join all the groups that have your target audience as members. Also link into websites or blog sites managed by associations affiliated with your industry. They may be looking for content. If you are connected to your local Chamber of Commerce, see if they have a venue that may be perfect for your content.
7. Respond to Feedback
The only thing worse than posting poor, irrelevant content is not responding when a reader/customer/potential customer reaches out to you. This is your time to really shine. Carry on a good conversation that answers their need. And stay connected past the first conversation by keeping them informed of new happenings in the industry and in your business.
8. Keep it all in Perspective
Social media should not be the only marketing tool you use. It’s a very important tool because that’s where the world spends most of its time these days. But an ad in the church bulletin, a speech to the local Kiwanis club and even sponsoring a local little league team can also bring in leads that turn into business.
A final note- There is a way you can have a great digital marketing program and still make it really easy on yourself – At Steelsmith Group we get internet marketing, CRM, SEO, web design/development, website analytics and social media. We know how to get your message right, say it in an engaging way, post it in the right places, and measure the results. And we have offices in both San Diego and Seattle. So give us a call. Just sayin’.