In my experience working with small businesses, I find that while many businesses today have a Facebook, LinkedIn and/or Twitter account, most are not maximizing their social media impact and, as a consequence, missing a huge opportunity !
Here is my six- (6) point social media plan for maximizing your social media’s effectiveness, followed by 30 important social media ideas, many of which are free.
To maximize your social media effectiveness, first, you need to put together a social media strategy. To start with, you should know who your customers are and which social media sites they frequent. For example, women are five- (5) times more likely than men to use Pinterest, millennials like Facebook and Twitter, and younger audiences prefer Snapchat.
Once you have decided where you need to be, you need to identify your social media goals and objectives. In my view, there are six- (6) social media goals & objectives: (i) branding, (ii) generating sales, (iii) interacting with your customers to strengthening customer relationships & loyalty, (iv) highlighting your products & services, (v) gaining new customers, and (vi) leveraging your strategic alliances.
With respect to branding, it is important to tell your story, because people love stories. In addition, you need to promote your unique selling proposition (USP,) that is, what makes you different from your competitors. You should, moreover, ask both customers and employee to post testimonials. These testimonials should reinforce your USP and give prospects a good feel for your business.
Because most customers will not be aware of all the products and services you offer, your products and services, furthermore, need to be highlighted in your social media. Last, be sure that your company’s personality (which often mirror the owner’s personality) shines through, as people buy people.
Many social media experts will tell you that the only object of your social media should be to generate sales, but I disagree. Albeit, your social media strategy should include generating sales and you should be mindful of your social media ROI. There are many ways to sell products & services on-line and I have included several ways in the list of ideas that follow.
Social media is a great way to interact with customers, reinforce your customer relationships, and strengthen customer loyalty. Show off your customer service focus, if for no other reason then because it inspires confidence in prospects. I, furthermore, recommend to my clients that they track and promote their customer satisfaction rating. If you have never had a better business bureau complaint, then you have an “A+ BBB listing” that should be promoted both on your web site and social media too.
Social Media is also a great way to reach out and connect with new prospects and new market niches. Be strategic when adding new social media connections. Encourage your customers to connect with you, interact with you, and like you on all of your social media.
Last, look for ways to leverage strategic alliances. Link to your strategic partners’ websites, and pursue opportunities to co-advertise. Like when you are growing your social network, you want to identify quality strategic partners.
After creating your social media goals and objectives, you need to begin producing content. This should be done in several different ways: writing posts, integrating images, tying in blog posts, creating hash tags to link posts, advertising company events, posting white papers, and creating YouTube posts. Other ideas include: highlighting an employee or customer of the month, introducing new employees, showing off interesting jobs you completed, and sharing new news about your company. You should also provide a benefit to your audience. For instance, offer free advice, have a contest, or give away samples.
You should design an integrated social media strategy and engage with everyone. And you should add your social media links to your emails, as well as your website if you haven’t done that already.
Concurrent with creating content, you should also put together a social media calendar, commit the time needed to make a social media impact, and monitor your analytics. If you would like a template for a social media calendar, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are no social media great truths. Follow your results using social media monitoring tools like Hootsuite, Tagboard, Facebook Analytics, LinkedIn Analytics, Twitter Analytics and Google+ Analytics.
Last, make sure you defend your social media reputation. Go the extra mile with regard to customer service. Be proactive in solving customer service problems. Check out ReviewTracker.com.
Have fun !
Jim’s Social Media Tips:
1. E-Marketing: Every business should have a contact database software solution, like ACT!, Goldmine, Salesforce, or Zoho and be using MailChimp to send out up to 2,000 free newsletters a month.
2. Purchase leads to increase your prospect databases. Consider InfoUSA, Goliad’s, ExactData, ListFinder, SalesGenie, Manta & Yelp.
3. On-Line Retailing: Retail Your Products on Amazon.com; E-Bay.com; Shopify.com; Bonanza.com; eBid.com; Facebook Marketplace; RangeMe.com, Walmart.com & Target.com. (Look into Amazon Associates as a way to leverage strategic alliances.)
4. Check out Facebook retail sites Storeya.com; Beetailer.com & Ecwid.com.
5. Leverage your social media efforts by copying your Instagram posts to Flickr.com, and use Tagboard.com to post across multiple social media platforms for free.
6. SEO Resources: Consider SEO resources, such as ThePublic.com; Soovel.com & Moz.com to make sure you are using the correct key words.
7. Wikipedia: Create a Wikipedia page for your business and to boast of your accomplishments.
8. Claim your “Yelp.com,” “YP.com” & “HubBiz.com listings. Set up business accounts on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. if you haven’t already.
9. Free Press Releases: Get the word out about your business using free press releases like: PressReleasePoint.com; Pitch Engine; PR Newswire; Portnet; Clippers; PR Log; PR Web; TinyPitch, etc. Also, do not overlook posting on Reddit.com; Digg.com & StumbleUpon.
10. Look into Hootsuite.com to manage all of your social media sites.
11. Hash Tags: Use “Hash (#) Clouds” to organize your social media messages. The hashtag sweet spot for businesses is no more than two hashtags per post.
12. Social Media News: Stay informed by getting your social media news from Mashable.com.
13. Live Streaming: Create a tour of your facility using Facebook Live.
14. Free Images: You can find a plethora of free images on-line using FreeImages.com; MorgueFile.com; Wylio.com & 123RF.com.
15. Social Media Contests: Create social media contests using ContestCapture.com.
16. Social Media Ads: Consider Google Ads; Facebook Ads; Twitter Ads; Tweet Deck; LinkedIn Ads; Groupon; LivingSocial.com; Tublr.com and Banner Ads.
17. Mobile Friendliness: Make sure your website is “mobile friendly.”
18. Social Media Ranking: Check out HowSocialbe.com to learn more about your social media ranking.
19. Tradeshows: Promote your tradeshow booth presence on Facebook Events, Google+ Events, and Eventbrite.
20. Make sure your key employees have a LinkedIn Page, and are actively networking and promoting your business.
21. Setup SlideShare on LinkedIn.
22. Facebook APPS: Check out PageYourself, Shortstack, TabSite & Pagemodo. Use Facebook Insights & Klout.com to track your Facebook efforts.
23. Web Site Analytics: Look into Google Analytics, SiteTuner.com, Google Website Optimizer, Grader.com, Site
Meter, Statcounter, Piwik, AwStats, AFS Analytics, You Tube Analytics, Facebook Page Insights, LinkedIn Analytics, Twitter Analytics & Netbiscuits (mobile.)
24. Search Engine Management Tips: Register your domain names for five-(5) years or more; Check out Google
Alerts, Maximize local business links; use Google Product Search; Google Commerce Search; Google Webmaster Tools; List company on DMOZLive.com.
25. Blog Site: Set up a blog site using WordPress.com.
26. Solicit Employee & Customer Internet References: on Google; BBB; Facebook Reviews; Yelp; your web site, etc.
27. Seek a Product or Industry Award you can promote.
28. Consider Vimeo.com — in addition to YouTube — for creating on-line videos.
29. Check out VK.com to increase European followers; Sonico.com for Latin America followers & Nexopia.com for Canadian followers.
30. Use Fibvrr or 99 Designs to introduce new images or logos.