Putting Social Media Marketing to Work in Your Small Business

Written By: Catherine Marsden, Ardent Scope Marketing, Inc. Owner Ask an entrepreneur or small business owner: “Who does your marketing?” and the likely reply will be: “I do.” or worse, “No one.”  With little or no budget dedicated for marketing, the job often falls to the business owner. This presents an age old dilemma: “How can a small business owner, (SBO), manage the day-to-day operations and still find more customers, follow up on sales leads and write sales proposals?”

To further complicate things, sales and marketing experienced sweeping changes over the last 5 years as customers flock to online review sites and social media sites to self educate, evaluate purchase options, and ask others for a referral. In the past, SBO’s only had to put up a website and place an ad in the Yellow Pages to make the phone ring. Unfortunately, with the rise of the internet, those days are over. In fact, Google research revealed that roughly 60-70% of the sales cycle is completed before a customer ever reaches out to a sales rep. to learn more. This phenomenon gave rise to social media marketing or content marketing whereby business owners strategically publish content in order to build trust with their target audiences.

The key to surviving in the new marketing world is to create a strategy and stick to it. At first, this may sound simplistic, but it’s the only way to avoid wasting precious time and money senselessly hoping for the best when it comes to your social media. Focus on your business goals first, and the right social media marketing activities that actually convert customers will become clear. Below are 10 rules that should help you formulate a strategy and avoid being swayed by the latest digital craze.

  1. Build a Budget.  Requiring consistent time and effort and dedicated resources, social media marketing is not free. Setting a budget helps you reduce uncertainty in your strategies, and it is the first step in understanding whether your strategies are helping you reach your business goals of actually converting prospects to customers.
  2. Formulate a Strategy. With your budget in hand, it’s time to define what success looks like and create a sales funnel with your content. What will you offer your customers that will solve their problems and at the same time help you learn more about them?
  3. Integrate With Other Marketing Efforts. Your social media should keep your brand voice the same in print, online, and at trade shows. Use social media to promote your other successful off-line marketing channels rather than replace them. For example, if you blog, mention it at a networking meeting and hand out print brochures and business cards; add mobile messaging that promotes special deals. Remember, it all has to work together.
  4. Build Trust. The goal of your marketing is to build trust with your audience. Remember they are holding the reins, not you. So create content that builds credibility and educates customers.
  5. Be True to Your Brand. Make sure you select a social media strategy that fits in with your company’s culture and values. Post content where your customers can be found. After all, you don’t want to host a party and have no one show up.
  6. Be Consistent: When beginning a social media campaign, it’s best to start small and then decide what is manageable. The important thing to remember is that once started, the communication should be consistent and timely, just like that of a friend.
  7. Add Mobile. With users checking their cell phones approximately 150 times a day, your website, blog, and email marketing must be mobile friendly. You can never tell what device your audience will use to search for you, so keep mobile front and center in your planning and testing.
  8. Find the Right Keywords. Since the primary goal of all social media marketing is to have your customers check out your website and contact you to learn more, picking the right keywords is essential. Make sure you have the right keywords in your social media and that they match your website.
  9. Monitor and Measure Results. Check Google Analytics and usage statistics on Facebook and LinkedIn to make sure your content is resonating with your customers. Tweak your strategy and adjust accordingly.
  10. Experiment with New Channels. Every 6-months dip your toe into a new channel that does not require a consistent effort. Have you always wanted to create a You-tube channel or explore Instagram? Then go for it! Remember, the social media websites of today may not be relevant tomorrow.  The more you can learn about new platforms the better off you’ll be in the event your current social media platforms fade in popularity.

With these rules as a guide, you can begin to formulate a social media strategy that will work for your small business.

About the Author With over 10 years of experience in marketing roles with large Fortune 500 companies, Catherine Marsden started Ardent Scope Marketing, Inc. to help overloaded small business owners grow sales through proper strategy, social media coaching and content writing. In her spare time she trains and competes in full Iron distance triathlons.