Social Media Strategy for Start-up Business Owners
If you are like the majority of my Social Media Consulting clients, you have found yourself in a place where you are suddenly leading a new venture, whether that is a B2B , B2C or Non-profit venture, Social media marketing, done right, is an essential for small business. But trying to figure out your Social Media Strategy can be confusing and time-consuming.
For any new business owner, whether they are an executive that has left a company after 20 years to start their own, a novice, or a serial entrepreneur, in order to gain visibility they need a proper social media plan. It is a common misconception that this simply involves setting up a channel or page, but it requires a strategy that is going to position you and your business as thought leaders. It is essential to develop a plan that includes tools to manage and monitor, as well as providing targeted content that will give your audience a unique value and drive engagement. Without this, the start-up small business owner will waste time and money.
So where do you start? What do you post? How do you measure?
Before you start acting on social media set up, you need to develop your strategy, design tactics, and gather your tools. I am going to share the social media marketing tips that have worked for, not only my own start up, but the hundreds of small business owners that I have helped. I break down these tips into three categories:
- Social Media Marketing Strategy
- Social Media Marketing Tactics
- Social Media Software Tools
Social Media Strategy
What strategy means for a small business owner is that they first need to know what their position is in the marketplace. You need to determine how your business is unique to the industry that you are serving. What that means for your social media approach is that you need to define your language and messaging. So what are you going to say that you do, determine the company says that it does, and how do I set up a space where the customer can voice their opinion? “How can I provide social customer care?” A quick example, stealing a bit from JetBlue social customer care is in my latest Entrepreneur Magazine social media article.
The first step is to determine your social strategy goals ranging from what I call light-weight to heavy weight metrics. Light-weight metrics include Facebook likes, new LinkedIn connects, increase in Twitter followers, more likes on Instagram, a new subscription on YouTube or even a new +1 on Google+. These metrics are important to measure on a weekly basis once you start executing. On the other end of the spectrum you have a heavy-weight metrics focus, especially important for a B2B or service-based company, is measuring high-touch engagement. This can mean anything from a share of your original content, comments on social posts, a reader coming from social media to your website, to a lead right into the social channel (e.g. like someone sending you an in-mail on LinkedIn wanting to learn more.)
To determine your strategy, light-weight to heavy-weight goals, and where you can quantify results and build a pattern you need to understand your buying cycle. For example, in a service-based business or a business with a hard to reach audience (like a C-level Executive) you need to understand that your sales cycle may be 6+ months long, where the buying cycle B2C company is highly transactional so you can track these metrics almost immediately.
The next step in determining your social media strategy is to build your audience profile. Ask yourself, “Who are my target customers? What are my customers doing on their social channels?” B2C customers are drawn to peer-to-peer channels such as Facebook and Instagram, where a B2B customer is more likely to use LinkedIn, YouTube, and Twitter.
Determine what your customer base is doing on socials by taking the time to visit these channels and research your customers’ personal interests. Your goal is to mine these groups to start gathering insights on which social channels are delivering the most site traffic, where your users are spending their time in social, what types of content is driving the highest consumption and share ability, and so forth.
With this data, illustrate user social behaviors and traffic patterns. You will start to realize:
- Which social ad platforms may make sense for your business
- What type of content production you should invest in for 2018 and beyond
- What frequency you should invest in content production during 2018 and beyond
- Where you might consider enabling a talent resource to manage a vertical online community
Finally, as a new business owner, a critical strategic piece to implement is to develop your own personal brand strategyalongside of your company’s. You need to define who you are and what you want to own as your knowledge base. What are you providing with your social media? Humor, Knowledge, Support? As an individual, your social media needs to have a direct, but authentic, match to who your customer would find if they walked into your brick and mortar. Because I want to give you some tactics and tools to move forward, I am going to stop on strategy. If you need help building your own powerful CEO brand, I offer personal branding consulting programs.
Social Media Tactics for Small Business Owners
Now that you have determined your social media strategy, you can move forward with developing your social media tactical plan. Tactics differ from Social Media Strategy as they do not come into play until you start to execute and manage your own social media. Social media tactics will differ from business to business, so you will need to determine which marketing platform is best for your B2C, B2B, or non-profit. Here are some tactics and examples:
- Facebook Marketing – Facebook is the largest social network, having over 1.5 billion users globally. This large audience is great if you are looking to reach and engage a consumer, but due to the huge network of users you will need to have your campaign be hyper-targeted or determine if you can implement a Facebook-specific marketing budget. Some great features of Facebook marketing include:
- If you own a local retail business, you can create a local business page. You can use this page to gain reviews, ask other local businesses to like your page, display videos of your business, also run promos and ads to target a specific area. Pro Tip: When creating your page’s shirt bio, always include your phone number, website, and email right at the top. The less time it takes someone to dig through your page to find this information, the more likely they are to user your business.
- Facebook has millions of groups- as I mentioned above, you can use these groups to gather information on your target audience. Once you have that information, you can begin to draw users to your page via promotions. Set up a give-away in groups that your audience frequents for advertising. In the next section of this article I will touch on some of the great e-commerce tools that you can integrate directly with your Facebook page.
- Remember, even if you do not sell a product and you run a service-based business, you can use Facebook to drive influence as an employer. Use Facebook to talk about the inside of your business and produce quality thought leadership content that will drive conversation with customer base. This can develop meaningfull relationships that can turn into business.
- Twitter Marketing – Twitter is the most real-time social network of the major 4. As a marketing tool it is primarily used to reach and engage the media. This is very important when growing your new business. Journalists use Twitter to research and break new stories constantly. If implementing Twitter as a social media tactic, start with the following:
- Have a plan. Create lists of potential reporters, media, influencers and start to follow these people and engage in conversations.
- Create relationships with potential customers. Share reviews from sites like Yelp, invite media and users to your launch, share information about current events, and keep users update on future events that your business may host.
- LinkedIn Marketing – LinkedIn is primarily used by B2B to begin networking and doing business together. LinkedIn is divided into two groups, the organic relationship side and the paid side. Out of all the social media networks, it does have the highest cost to play. It is important to understand that the reason behind this is because you have direct access to the decision makers from each business. Here is how you can begin to use LinkedIn as a social media tactic:
- Build a polished personal profile. Once the profile is built you can begin to grow your database with connections. Share quality content and determine how that content is going to affect your connections. I have delivered 100s of Optimized and Enhanced Executive LinkedIn profiles and happy to assist. See examples of my LinkedIn Individual work.
- The next step is to b build a separate company profile on top of your own. You will use this page to share news, job postings, and events for your company. This is a perfect branding thought leadership tool for small business owners that are just getting started. I talk more about branding on LinkedIn here: LINK
- For examples of polished LinkedIn pages, see my LinkedIn Marketing Training and Coaching Program Deck with client examples.
Social Media Marketing & My Go-To Business Tools
As a social media thought leader I am expected to know and speak on Social Media tools, like my recent panel at the Social Tools conference. In case you missed it, I want to deliver some tips to you now. Like you, I am a small business owner, with less than 5 full-time employees (and many remote by project expert contractors). I want to give you a peek into my own world and the tools that I have used to streamline my own business and for all of my small business clients.
Social Media Tools
- Listening Tools – There are many tools on the web to get alerts about your business. My favorite to implement is “Google Alerts” in Gmail to know when someone is mentioning my business. Mention.com is also a helpful listening tool to manage your brand reputation.
- Email Marketing & Production Tools – I am a big believe in the use of multiple products that relate to each other to run like a big business. You need to use a customer relationship management tool. I personally use ZOHO CRM for all of my email campaigns and managing my sales funnel. Other options are MailChimp, Sugar CRM, and Salesforce (a low-level CRM.)
- Social Media Monitoring & Management – For monitoring, management, and content curation my go-to is Hootsuite. This is a social media management mega-tool that always stays up to date with 3rd party applications being constantly integrated. Sprout Social is another good monitoring tool for a smaller business.
- Operations & Finances – Although I am considered a marketing professional, I still have to manage my money, payroll, taxes, and accounting. I was introduced to Quickbooks Online – a full financial product suite, and it has become the best way to manage my daily accounts receivable/payable, payroll, and taxes.The best part is that I can create an invoice and send it directly to my client using their new invoicing software
- I spent an entire summer building a personal branding course where I reviewed a slew of software tools. If you want to check out the course for more information: PERSONAL BRANDING DIY COURSE WITH FULL TOOL SET.
If you want to read more about SEO analytic tools , I made a HUGE list of SEO Tools on my Blog
My goal with all of this is getting you started and making sure you are started in the right way. As a small business owner it is our job to support and grow other small business owners. If you have additional questions, please complete the short social media needs form on my contact page.