The small business world can be a grind working in and on the business to reach goals and milestones and grow.
Owners and employees wear a lot of hats and often excel at filling a lot of roles.
The day-to-day requirements of sales, operations, payroll, invoicing, service, and fulfillment take a ton of time and energy.
Something that gets squeezed out is marketing.
The marketing mix for a small business often covers the essentials and things that are closest to the bottom line.
These are often identified as the website and campaigns that impact lead or sales generation closest to the last click or to the conversion. Those include things like email marketing, SEO, and paid search.
Often, social media is left out of that mix or only done in a way that meets a bare minimum to show the business is real.
Social media doesn’t have to be a massive commitment or time investment. It also doesn’t have to be a big mystery as to how it could impact the business and fit into the marketing mix.
By working smarter and not harder, you can use eight tips to put together a social media strategy that makes sense for the resources you have and ultimately can engage your audience and positively impact your business.
1. Identify Personas
There are a lot of resources that speak to the process of persona development and how it can help in the content marketing and overall marketing strategy for your business.
If you haven’t defined who the target audience is for your products, services, or offering, then you should start here.
You don’t have to go through a massive branding or research project to get to the info you need.
If you don’t know where to start, I suggest jumping into your current Google Analytics account and activating the interests section and seeing which affinity groups are noted.
If you don’t have the luxury of current data, you can dig into the Google Ads display planner and Facebook ad planning tools to explore the options for interests, demographics, and behavior and see how the categories and targeting fit with your understanding of your clients or customers.
Using any working or refined models of specific personas, you can save time and fine tune your messaging and targeting in the social media networks to cast the right-sized net and get specific enough with your content.
2. Know the Customer Journey
We all typically know the most about what step or two is the best at driving engagement, sales, or leads. That may be a specific marketing channel, a campaign, or even a category of content.
The problem is that most companies don’t have a 1-touch customer journey that results in a sale on their first visit.
The customer journey can be a little difficult to get a complete picture of, but there are ways to look at what content is resonating with your audience before they convert and you can talk with them to see what they find valuable in making their decision.
There are reporting platforms that can tie it all together, but at the very least, you should get some visibility into the steps in the funnel that customers go through ultimately as they research before buying.
3. Track Everything
If you’re finding challenges with the first two tips, it is likely because you don’t have as much data or information as you’d like. I’m glad you’re still reading and made it this far.
Tracking and measuring are critical for digital marketing.
Without capturing data, you’re left with using industry trends or just giving it your best guess based on what you know about your industry and the things that work in the offline world.
Make sure that all pages on your site are tracked in Google Analytics.
Ensure that all content you are deploying in email, social, and other sources uses UTM tracking parameters so it can be properly categorized in Google Analytics.
Find ways to utilize promo codes and other source codes to merge offline and online data.
The more you can track and measure, the more informed you can be as you evaluate the worth of your time and dollars in your content investment and specifically when you deploy it through social.
4. Use Agile Methods
Ebooks, whitepapers, webinars, and long-form content may be the perfect thing to use to engage and resonate with your audience.
However, these are all big investments to make in the content creation stage before even deploying.
A great way to test out social and figure out the right types of content, frequency of posting, targeting options (for sponsored and ad content), timing, etc., is to perform more frequent, smaller tests.
Agile marketing has become a valuable strategy in recent years. It features an agile mindset similar to what you’d expect in software development and other disciplines.
As a small business, you probably don’t have the time or budget for a statistically significant sample size anyway, so go all in with a wide range of content and options and see what works before you invest a ton into a single piece of content or single strategy by which you plan on judging the viability of social as a channel.
5. Repurpose Content
Where possible, you could and should look for opportunities to leverage existing content and sources.
If you created a great blog post as part of your SEO strategy, test it on social?
If you’re creating content for your email audience, repurpose some of it on social.
By using content in more than one place, you can get a better return on investment for individual pieces of content, plus get more data and see how it performs across various channels.
Also, just because something is evergreen or a tip is not new, that doesn’t mean it isn’t to your audience.
As long as the information is still accurate and relevant, there’s no harm in sharing something that has been on your site for a couple of years.
Your hidden gems of quality content might be a little too hidden or limited to just your search or other audiences. Using content you know works and resonates is a solid strategy for testing on social as well.
6. Learn From Your Competition
When asked how often a company should be posting on social media and what types of content, I can never right away answer the question directly for them.
The answer is always “it depends.” I don’t have a special best practice number of times to post per week or month. It is all relative to the industry and audience.
Competitors are a great place to look for cues and help. Don’t assume that any or all of your competitors are doing it right.
Do know that you can look externally at their social profiles and see:
Whether capturing all of this in a spreadsheet or other format, you can quickly see patterns that emerge in what is working and what isn’t.
I recommend doing this type of basic research or study before arbitrarily deciding what your social plan should be.
7. Plan for Times When You Don’t Have Time
Even if you’re 100% committed to staying on the social media plan, things will happen.
With the hats that you wear, you’ll get pulled into something that is a higher priority. Or, maybe you’ll get to take a vacation and unplug.
Regardless, there will be times when you don’t have time to focus on social media. That’s OK!
Plan for the times when you don’t have the time and attention now.
Build a content calendar and framework. Know who is posting what content and when.
If you can spread the roles around to others and make sure everyone is committed and following the plan and guidelines, you can ensure that the content strategy, implementation in social, and testing process won’t fall apart the second that other things take attention away from it.
Like other endeavors in business and in life, if you fall off, get back on soon. Stick with it as there’s value in the information gained and meaningful connections made by utilizing social media in your digital marketing mix.
8. Optimize Like You Would in Other Channels
Know that there are going to be some home runs as well as some strikeouts. Take an optimization and agile mindset into social like you would in search marketing.
Set a period of time that you want to test, set your strategy, and then optimize through testing.
Always be testing!
There are a lot of reasons why social media is not at the top of the priority list in the marketing mix of small businesses. That doesn’t mean that it can’t be effective.
There’s also no reason it should be the biggest investment you make.
Smart strategies that are designed to stay on track and properly leverage social through:
This content was originally published here.