Many small and medium-sized businesses are anxious to increase their social media impact, and they realize the importance of integrating social media outreach into their overall marketing plans. The challenge they face is figuring out how to achieve those goals in the shortest amount of time with the often limited resources they have available. Strategies will vary depending on your specific goals and capabilities, but a good starting point for most businesses is a thorough consideration of your target audience, suggests Amber Fiedler, leader of the social media team at Warner Communications.
“Each social media platform is tailored to a different audience, so you want to be mindful of where your customers are,” she cautions, adding that SMBs too often spread themselves thin. “They join every new social media platform and can’t provide the attention each platform needs. By limiting yourself to the social media accounts where your customers are, you will see far better results and have more time.”
It’s also important to establish goals and objectives for your social media efforts that align with your overall marketing plan, says Ingrid Kibler, social media account supervisor at HCK2 Partners. Social media is flexible and can do many things, from increasing brand recognition and loyalty to creating conversion opportunities and increasing conversion rates to improving customer experiences and insights. The key is to decide what success looks like to your business, Kibler says. “Then create your strategy to achieve those goals, and measure your progress each week so you can tweak your performance for continual improvement.”
Many SMBs rely on dashboards that allow them to manage all their social media platforms from a single app. Some popular ones include:
- HootSuite. The free version supports a single user and up to five social profiles, while HootSuite Pro ($10 a month) includes two user accounts, unlimited social profiles, and other premium features.
- Sprout Social. Sandra Gabriel, founder and chief relationship manager at Gabriel PR, considers this the best dashboard for SMBs. “It’s quite affordable, and with a basic subscription you can add up to 10 social media accounts. It’s also collaborative, so you can have a few team members on and share notes and comments,” she says. Sprout Social generates easy-to-understand reports, and it begins compiling follower demographics within 24 hours of account activation, highlighting areas where performance could be improved.
- VerticalResponse Social. This dashboard marries social media and email marketing campaigns under the combined umbrella of online marketing. Users can set up their own custom content library of websites relevant to their industry, and the dashboard offers suggestions for content based on the nature of your business.
And speaking of content, striking the right balance there is crucial to maximizing your social media impact, says Cemanthe McKenzie, managing director of New Media Angels Ltd. Creating killer content requires a solid grasp of your target audience’s demographics--age, gender, location, etc.--but, most importantly, their interests. She recommends an 80/20 formula, where 80 percent of the content is of value to customers or clients based on the interests you have identified, and 20 percent of value to your company in terms of message delivery or brand affirmation. “People buy from people, and social media has driven the community side of the business,” McKenzie says. “People enjoy knowing more personal, insider parts of companies they support, and they share content that is either rational or emotional.”