Navigating the road of social media
It is no secret that social media is everywhere. From bus stops to super markets, you would be hard-pressed to find a public place where someone is not checking social media at any given time. With increasing numbers of people joining social media networks each day, businesses have begun to use these unique platforms for advertising and marketing. While many businesses never drum up more than a few views on social media sites, a select few break out from the pack by manipulating social media effectively and gathering a fiercely loyal fan base along the way. With such an opportunity to gain free publicity, all businesses should strongly consider social media as a viable marketing platform. However, knowing which social media platforms to use as well as how to maximize your effectiveness at reaching audiences is imperative to understand before attempting to navigate this road of endless likes, favorites and retweets.
As a mentor for the Service Corps of Retired Executives, I fully understand just how important social media can be for a business. Every business needs a strategy.
I take care of all social media for SCORE, which is helpful for our clients and volunteers.
Originally a nuclear chemist, I ended up in marketing and handled branding and advertising for various clients. However, social media drastically changed traditional advertising. In order to better prepare for the shifting world of marketing, I went back to school and began taking classes at the University of Nevada Reno. Now, I’m using this expertise in order to advise businesses in the proper use of social media.
A lot of businesses don’t even address social media, which is a huge mistake.
When jumping into social media, I suggest businesses start with Facebook because it is the largest platform and then move down to smaller platforms. This ensures that businesses will be maximizing the amount of potential consumers that can view the products or services the business has to offer.
Every client you ever wanted is on Facebook, which is nearly double the size of Pinterest, the next largest social media platform. With so many potential clients in one location, it’s imperative that a business use all the various tools Facebook has to offer.
One such tool is video.
Videos are very important in marketing campaigns. They can be fun and engaging.
No one wants to scroll past endless text posts on a business’s page. Switching up the visual rhythm with well-placed images is an effective way to keep a viewer paying attention to a business’s message for that much longer. Taking this concept one step further with video is an even more effective tactic, as this can captivate potential clients for extended periods of time and increase brand awareness.
The cornerstone of a successful social media presence is content. I recommend that each week business owners pick out a day to spend about two hours updating any blogs, Facebook pages, etc. While at first this may seem like a lengthy endeavor, the time investment will be worth it if it gets consumers to pay attention to the message.
Not only does the quality of content have a direct impact on viewership, but quantity as well. The more consistent the rate at which content is produced, the more likely people will be to subscribe to a business’s page and return week after week for each update. However, this does not mean that it is advantageous to continuously publish the same message every few hours, as this will likely drive followers away. You can’t just say ‘buy me, buy me.’
It’s all about the content.
While social media by itself is important, maintaining a viable Web site is another crucial step in the social media ladder. Ultimately, it is the goal of the business to drive consumers to a website through social media, such as billboards directing a driver to a destination. It is the responsibility of the business owner to make sure that the Web site is a desirable destination to end up in. I advise making a business’s website both simple and mobile-friendly, as this is what websites have been trending towards most recently. Having a clean design as well as up-to-date information will maximize the chances of a business to keep a potential client on the Web site for as long as possible.
If learning the various ins and outs of social media proves to be too time consuming, hiring someone to manage a business’s social media presence can be a viable alternative. However, if a business chooses to go this route, the business owner must still be intimately involved with the content. The last thing any business wants is a paid employee that is spreading information that does not match up with the goals of the business owner.
Make sure they have your vision.
It is not only new businesses that need to take advantage of social media. Even long-standing businesses with a loyal client base should take advantage of the boost in brand awareness social media can provide.
You need to stay up to date. There are never enough clients.
The goal is to connect with existing clients and find new ones. You can look up competitors. I can’t think of any business that shouldn’t take part in social media.
For more information on how to successfully integrate social media into your small business, visit both score.org and nsbdc.org for a schedule of upcoming classes.
Judy Haar has counseled hundreds of small businesses over the past eight years as a mentor for SCORE in subjects such as start-up, business plans, finance, funding, marketing, branding and retooling. Matt Nielsen, a student intern at the Nevada Small Business Development Center, contributed to this article.
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