Being a small business on social media is the epitome of being a small fish in an ocean. You are competing with millions of companies shouting out for attention at the same time. It can seem like an impossible job to get noticed on social and to make it work for you. And while there’s no definitive key to success, a well thought out social media plan may help you succeed.
Write a Blog
A blog is the first and one of the most important pieces of any social media plan. Why? A blog is where you get your content. When you have to write at least one creative social media post each day, you can run out of ways to drive social media users to your website. A blog gives you endless opportunities.
A well-written blog is also the first step to being a thought leader. Why does thought leadership matter? You’re only going to gain website visitors, social media followers, and email/blog subscribers if you prove to consumers that you are a worthwhile addition. You can prove that you add value to your industry by your blog content.
Still don’t believe in the value of a blog? Let these statistics convince you:
- 81% of U.S. online consumers trust information and advice from blogs.
- B2B marketers that use blogs receive 67% more leads than those who don’t blog.
- Companies who blog gain 97% more links to their website.
- Blogs are the 5th most trusted source for information online.
Use SEO-Focused Keywords
While SEO is key to blogging, it’s also key to your social media plan. Every piece of online content you create should be keyword focused. Keywords matter because they are how you will bring new eyeballs to your content.
For example, if you’re a dog washer, you need to be using keywords that customers who are looking for dog washers would use. Now, this doesn’t mean that you should use “dog washer” in every piece of content. It’s more important to use a variety of keywords around a single subject. In fact, Google says that 70% of searches are for synonyms. So “dog washer” would work as well as “dog cleaner.”
The key to a social media plan with keywords, do the research. Google’s Keyword Planner is a great and free place to start. Then, once you’ve chosen your high volume and low competition keywords, use them within your blogs and within as much of your online content as possible.
Set Social Goals
Did you know that it’s not enough just to start your social media profiles, post regularly, and let it grow? In fact, that’s a surefire way to see no progress within your social media plan. Instead, make follower growth goals, website click goals, interaction goals, and sales conversion goals and then make sure that everything you do on social media works toward those goals.
What does this mean?
Let’s say one of your goals is to gain new dog washing clients. That’s a great goal. Now, it’s time to use social media to get there. You can use social media to help bring awareness to your business, to increase website traffic through linking, to gain email signups, to gain reviews, and more. Each of these tactics plays a role in gaining new business.
So when you decide to post on social about national “Love Your Dog” day, be sure to include a link to your blog that talks about what your small business is doing to celebrate. Or, you can offer a social media only coupon on Twitter that provides followers 10% off their next dog wash. Either way, you’ve linked your social media content to your company goals.
Keep Your Social Media Plan Small and Strategic
One of the worst things a small business can do is too much. Don’t bite off more than you can chew online. Particularly when it comes to social media, high quality and lower volume can be much more important. Lower volume allows you to focus on those social media platforms that will drive the most business.
However, if you go small, then you need to research the best platforms for you. Each platform has unique benefits, a specific audience, and a dedicated purpose. You need to know how each platform works best for you and then choose the one to three platforms that you feel would help you achieve success
Below you can find a quick down-and-dirty breakdown of the platforms.
Facebook is appropriate for any business. There is no niche market. Instead, Facebook is more like the Google of social media; you can make it work for anything you need.
Pros: Facebook is always a good idea due to sheer volume with 500 million active users of whom 50% login to Facebook on a daily basis. Facebook also requires less work than other platforms. You can pre-schedule your content weeks in advance and Facebook regularly appears in SEO.
- Cons: Organic growth at the beginning is extremely difficult. For a small business, Facebook will require advertising when you get started. You will have to be willing to “pay to play” on Facebook. Even if you only give yourself a $50 monthly budget, it can make a very large difference in your social media plan success.
Twitter is the best platform for news and article focused social media content. With only 140 characters, more often than not, you will be linking to outside websites for more depth and breadth. Twitter is also a great platform for quick conversations and connections.
- Pros: Twitter is another heavy-hitting social media platform with 302 million active users. You can tweet many times daily without worrying about scaring away followers—in fact, 10 – 15 tweets a day is not inappropriate.
- Cons: Twitter requires heavy interaction. You’re not going to grow on Twitter unless you are an active user that tweets multiple times daily, reaches out to other users, retweets, joins trending topics, and uses hashtags. There’s a steeper learning curve to using Twitter correctly, but if you can learn to use it well, endless organic growth is possible.
The old joke that Google Plus is for Google employees is mostly still true today. However, Google loves its own social media platform and so for SEO, you cannot ignore it.
- Pros: Because it has a small audience, Google+ does not require a high amount of interaction. Truthfully, you can get away with sharing your same Facebook content on Google+ every day.
- Cons: It’s a fairly dead social media platform. There is some interaction, but for a small business, it’s probably not worth your time and attention unless you’re a technology company.
Instagram is one of the fastest growing social media platforms. It’s an image and video only platform with a younger demographic. So if you’re looking at twenty and thirty-year-old customers, you have to be on Instagram.
- Pros: Instagram is the same size as Twitter with 300 million active users and those users are highly active. In fact, Instagram posts receive 58 times more engagement per follower than Facebook and 120 times more engagement per follower than Twitter.
- Cons: Instagram is a work heavy social media platform. You cannot schedule content, so all content has to be posted day of creation. Interaction is also incredibly important. You need to have time to like other images, comment on posts, and engage with hashtags. Other limitations include the inability to create clickable links and a hashtag use learning curve—11+ hashtags per post.
Pinterest is the social media platform for moms, teachers, wedding planners, interior designers, and shoppers. Women compose 2/3 of Pinterest’s audience. And if you’re in e-commerce at all, this is your platform.
- Pros: Pinterest is a great social media platform for website traffic. In fact, as long as you have a blog with images or an e-commerce portion of your website, you can direct a majority of your pins directly to your website. And even better news, 93% of pinners shopped online in the past six months.
- Cons: While Pinterest is a fun platform, it takes a lot of work. Not only do you have to create pins, you need to create boards, join community boards, repin other pinners, and write engaging descriptions to match each image. It’s a work heavy platform, but worth the time.
LinkedIn is the social media platform for networking. If you’re looking to connect with professionals, advertise available career opportunities, and build an influential group of business professionals to engage with, LinkedIn is for you.
- Pros: Most business professionals have a profile on LinkedIn—about one in three professionals. And with over 332 million members in total, it’s a fairly wide-reaching platform for networking.
- Cons: There is very little interaction on LinkedIn. And unless you’re using LinkedIn for a specific business growth opportunity, you’re not going to see as high of ROI, particularly since LinkedIn’s percentage of social sharing is only 4%.
There are many more social media platforms to consider, including Snapchat, Vine, Tumblr, and Reddit, just to name a few. Each platform will add a different level to your social media plan, but if you try to take on too much, you’ll end up failing at all of them. When it comes to executing a great social media plan, take it one step at a time and see what works for you.