Whether you’re doing it or not, by now you’ve heard that Social Media is a low-cost tool to help small business owners reach new, as well as existing, customers and to build customer loyalty and extend the reach of marketing efforts in a way that traditional methods simply can’t do. Because it’s built on principles of spreading information by “word of mouth” through a network of socially connected people, when done correctly, social media can elevate your status as an industry expert.
Surprisingly, despite the evidence of its’ effectiveness as a marketing tool, few small businesses are making active use of social media platforms to promote their products and services. According to the 2012 Small and Medium Business Study, fewer than one-quarter of small businesses (24%) use social media as part of a planned marketing strategy. Another 29% use social media in an “ad hoc way, suggesting that they are intrigued with social media but aren’t sure exactly how to make it work for them.” A study done by Constant Contact found that smaller companies that are using social media marketing report that it’s the area where they need the most help. Only 49% of respondents reported they consider social media marketing effective.
At first glance, social media marketing sounds simple. Sign up for accounts on all the social media sites — facebook, twitter, youtube, foursquare, pinterest… — and start posting. But the reality is that if you want to use social media effectively to establish relationships and generate new business, there’s a lot more to it. For many small business owners, the amount of time required doesn’t seem to be worth it, especially if they don’t even know where to start. One solution is to hire an expert to handle Social Media Marketing but when budgets are tight, this may not an option. The result — a large majority of businesses have either no social media presence or one that is done haphazardly.
As with any large goal or project, the best way to have success with social media marketing is to break it down into manageable pieces. Over the course of the upcoming months we will be bringing you; tips, strategies, tools and resources that will help even the busiest owner boost his online presence (and more importantly, have a social media strategy that will generate income).
Today we will start with an overview of the steps necessary to develop an effective social media strategy. Intuit’s “Path to Social Success“ Infographic provides an easy-to-follow plan for managing your business’s social presence. It answers the most common questions of ”How do I use it? Why should I use it? What do I say? Who has the time?” Intuit suggests working on four main objectives
Objective #1 – Take Social Media Inventory (1st Quarter)
- Step 1: Assess your social fitness (January)
- Step 2: Revisit your social goals (February)
- Step 3: Establish ways to measure success (March)
Objective #2 – Work on relationships (2nd Quarter)
- Step 1: Be a listener (April)
- Step 2: Communicate in new ways (May)
- Step 3: Develop your response to customers (June)
Objective #3 – Integrate Everything (3rd Quarter)
- Step 1: Integrate all of your social platforms (July)
- Step 2: Integrate other inbound activities (August)
- Step 3: Integrate team members (September)
Objective #4 – Look Backward, Then Forward (4th Quarter)
- Step 1: Don’t be discouraged by challenges (October)
- Step 2: Learn from the year-in-review (November)
- Step 3: Look to the future (December)