The Small Business Owner's Social Media Tool Kit

Running a small business isn’t easy, and it seems to get just a little harder every single day. There’s not a single aspect of marketing that you can afford to ignore. If you don’t already use popular business social media sites for marketing purposes, now is the perfect time to start.

Here is how to get started!

Create a Social Media Plan

socialmedia_plan

Before diving into social media for business, you must first come up with a good plan. Social media marketing needs to be approached the exact same way as all other forms of marketing. You need to sit down and think about what social media websites will be a good match for you, how they will help you connect with your target market, what kind of online presence you wish to have, and how much time you plan to devote to social media marketing each day.

Know the Rules of Social Media

Different business social media sites have different rules, and these rules sometimes differ from the rules the general population follow. It’s possible that you’ll could have to pay for a professional membership, limit the number of comments you make, or won’t be able to post promotional links. Take the time to familiarize yourself with the rules prior to creating an account, and check up on them regularly and make sure nothing has changed. Facebook is a perfect example of a social media website that’s a great marketing tool that constantly changes the rules regarding promotions.

Post Lots of Visuals

A picture is worth a thousand words – and micro-videos are gaining in popularity every day! – and that is extra true when you’re posting it on a social media website. Not only will your visuals get viewed, but they’ll get passed from one follower to the next, so make them count. Before you post, you need to make sure:

  • The subject is clear

  • It’s good quality

  • It portrays your small business in a positive manner

  • But, know it’s ok to be a little silly and cheeky to show some personality in your business

Be Clear About Social Media Messaging

You don’t necessarily have to handle the social media marketing on your own, you can delegate the responsibility, but make sure that everyone knows who’s in charge. Give the situation careful consideration. The person you put in charge will become the virtual face of your small business. They need to have a friendly but professional manner, have a strong understanding of how social media websites work, have a good knowledge base about your business goals and the industry, and have a background in marketing. Once you have decided which person will be in charge of this aspect of your marketing program, make sure everyone else knows.

In some instances it’s ok to allow multiple employees to post. On Twitter, for example, getting a behind-the-scenes look from a variety of perspectives gives your followers deeper insight into your business and can strengthen connections. Be clear in the onset that there will be multiple contributors.

Utilize External Tools

The availability of social media management and enhancement tools grows on a daily basis … and, for good reason. These tools can help you streamline your marketing efforts. If you do not have an in-house marketing person, filling your toolbox with these tools is essential to social media marketing success.

Here are a few of my favorite social media  marketing tools:

Hootsuite

Hootsuite offers the most comprehensive dashboard that I have seen thus far. You can manage nearly all your social media channels – plus many popular email programs and WordPress too! – through their one-stop system.

Pagemodo 

Pagemodo is a growing social media tool, specific to Facebook marketing. I use it for custom tabs, but you can also use it to schedule posts and  create contests and promotions. The toolset is more and more robust everyday (they will even give you images and quotes to choose for posting)

ManageFlitter

ManageFlitter offers a great set of Twitter tools. And, just like many others is constantly adding new features. I use ManageFlitter to keep my Twitter account “cleaned up.” Twitter can be overwhelming with random followers – plus there are rules about keeping the proper balance of followers vs followees – so I use it to makes sure everything is balanced. Other features include: power posts, search, analytics, and enhanced following.

Wefollow

Wefollow is a directory of prominent people ranked 0-100 from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Linkedin, organized by interests. You can even get ranked for your interests. I use it to find and follow influencers in my industry so I can stay up-to-date on the latest news and trends.

Remember it’s all About Connection

The biggest mistake that business owner make when they start to use social media websites to promote their business is that they forget they’re supposed to be connecting with people and the only thing they post is promotional stuff. While there’s nothing wrong with tweeting about an upcoming sale or posting pictures of your products on Facebook, it can’t be the only thing you do. The small businesses that have the most success with social media marketing are the ones that really make an effort to connect with their followers. They post fun stories and pictures of work situations, respond to comments posted by followers, and also take an interest in the lives of their followers. The idea of business social media sites is to create a sense of community.

Using social media for your small business can be a fun way to connect with current and future clients, but don’t forget, it’s your overall marketing plan that really counts in the long run. Social media marketing is a small part of the big picture.

Good luck and have fun!

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