Most business people jump into social media waters without a plan of action. Many of them say, “We have a Facebook page,” or “We have a Twitter account.” And when they are asked, “Who is your audience and what do you say to them?” They start blabbering like Ralph Kramden from The Honeymooners.
As a business owner, any social media efforts should fit into your current marketing plan, which should fit within your overall business goals and objectives. Following are a few things you should consider before “going social.”
Before you do anything, there are two questions you need to answer: 1) Why are you engaging? and 2) Do you have the time and manpower to do this?
Really think about why you want to use social media for your business. Are you doing it because everyone else is doing it? Or, do you have specific messages to get to specific audiences?
Consider this: social media is very time-consuming. It’s not just a matter of creating messages and walking away. You have to have conversations with other people. You have to listen to what they are saying and respond accordingly. And you have to continue to court those relationships offline. Do you have enough time and people to do this?
Until you can honestly answer these two questions, there is no need to go any further. If either of your answers were negative, STOP HERE. Otherwise, let the real planning begin.
1. What is your goal?
Do you want to generate awareness for your business, products and services? Do you want to be known as the expert in your field and industry? How about converting visitors into paying customers? Know your goals so you’ll know how to best proceed.
2. Who is your audience?
You need to be as specific as possible for each of your audiences. It’s not enough to say, “I’m reaching out to small business owners.” That’s a huge class. You have to narrow your options to industry, company size and any other distinguishing factors that will allow you to tailor your messages.
3. What are your messages?
Are you educating, informing, entertaining or all of the above? Regardless of what you decide to say, do not sell anything directly. This is by far the easiest way to lose the audience you’re working so hard to build.
4. Which is the best site to get your message to your target audience?
There are literally hundreds of free social sites online with more being created every day. People seem to think that they have to have a presence on all of them to get their message across. This is not true and a big waste of time. You need to pick that one space that has your target market and really work it. This is the space where your relationships are created and courted. This is the space where conversations become profits. Be sure to have a detailed plan for whichever site you choose.
5. How often should you post content to your sites?
This depends on the audience, message, method of delivery, and your time and manpower. Sending tweets is less time consuming than creating and editing videos. Maybe your audience prefers photos. Be sure to be creative and consistent in developing and delivering content to your audience.
Before you take a plunge into social media waters, be sure to really consider the questions above. Most people engage with no plan while others begin and don’t continue because they don’t have a plan. Having a plan will ensure that you deliver the right message to the right audience using the right tool. It will also keep you on target and focused. If you find that time and resources are limited, it’s best to wait until you are able to work your social media plan effectively and efficiently. Remember, poor planning is as bad as or worse than having no plan at all.
Following are a few resources to help get you started on your social media journey.
Facebook for Dummies – Leah Pearlman and Carolyn Abram
LinkedIn for Dummies – Joel Elad
Twitter for Dummies – Laura Fitton, Michael Gruen, Leslie Poston
YouTube for Dummies – Doug Sahlin, Chris Botello
Social Media 101 – Christ Brogan
Social Media Marketing for Dummies – Shiv Singh
Facebook Marketing – Mari Smith
The Social Media Marketing Book – Dan Zarella
If you need help developing a social media plan, brainstorming ideas, setting up and managing your social media site and content, contact us at (877) 570-5228.
Image: Eric Rosen