Cats rule the internet and other tips for your social media marketing – Leany Burmeister

Small businesses being social media savvy

Here is a little social media marketing tip: cats rule the Internet. In fact, they often break it too (sorry, Kim Kardashian). Here’s proof. And here and here. However, unless you are a small business that sells pet related products, how do you successfully break your way into the social media landscape? There’s hope!

Google dictionary defines strategy as “a plan of action designed to achieve a long-term or overall aim” or “the art of planning and directing overall military operations and movements in a war or battle”. In good old plain English, strategy asks the question: what is your game plan? So, when you start thinking about your own social media marketing, ask yourself what is your game plan?

Here are a few steps you can take to finalise your game plan, and get your social media marketing strategy and planning off the ground.

Objectives

What do you want to achieve by being on social media, and how are you going to achieve it? Identify what your business goals are, and how your overall marketing objectives are aligned to achieve these goals. Most businesses will include raising brand awareness and reaching potential customers as their main objectives, but you can also think of goals such as engaging with your customers, rewarding referrals and loyal customers, etc. Think big but keep it realistic and achievable. For more information on social media marketing objectives, you can read this article.

Find the audience, find the platform

Once you know what you want to achieve, you can start thinking about who you are going to reach and where you are most likely to find them. No one knows your business and its customers as well as you know them. Write down what you know about them, their habits, concerns and interests. Once you have the profile of your ideal customer in mind, you can go ahead and find the right social media platforms that they are likely to be active on. Wishpond wrote a great article that summarises the characteristics of the popular platforms and help guide you in deciding which are right for your business. South African business owners can also finds some really handy local insights here.

I would also recommend doing some research at this point to establish what your competitors are doing on social media. Make a list of your main competitors (keep it under five if possible) and see what social media platforms they are on. How many followers do they have, how often do they post content and what is the quality of their content. Very importantly, notice whether they are receiving a lot of engagement (clicks, shares, comments, retweets, favourites and likes) on their posts. High engagement is usually an indication of a successful social media strategy and implementation.

The logistics (read: finding the time)

So far so good; you’ve decided what your social media objectives are, who you are going to target and where to find them. Next step is to make some decisions around the logistics of your social media marketing plan. Unfortunately this is often the most underestimated steps of social media marketing activities and the main cause for a failure in results.

Time!

Let’s be realistic, you are a business owner and most of your time is spent on growing and nurturing your business. The reality is social media marketing takes time and effort and most small business owners often struggle to find enough time to make a success out of it. The great news is there are a few shortcuts you can take to save you some time:

  • Plan in advance: build content calendars about a week in advance. This way you won’t have to squeeze in some time every day to update your social media networks. I find that working no more than a week in advance keeps my content fresh and relevant, but depending on your industry, you might be able to plan even further in advance.
  • Find newsletters and influencers that talk about your industry: These are a great source of information and content that you can repurpose on your own social media platforms (always giving credit to the original sources, of course). This is a strategy I often use for my own clients and find that it is a great way of spotting trends, opportunities and starting or joining an industry conversation.
  • Schedule in advance: This is really the best thing since sliced bread. Did you know there are tools that allow you to schedule your posts in advance for the date, time and even to the exact audience you want to reach? Facebook allows you to schedule posts natively on the platform, but I find it is easier to keep everything in the same place. Tweetdeck is a handy tool that you can use to preschedule your tweets, as well as create lists and columns to keep an eye on conversations and tweets in real-time.

Buffer (hero!) has an amazing tool that you can use to pre-schedule posts for Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+. Their basic plan is an ideal solution for a small business, and is completely free.

There are so many useful tools available to help you manage your social media efforts better. In fact, Kevan Lee from Buffer published a monster of a list a while ago that you might find really useful (make some coffee; this list will keep you busy for a while).

You can always investigate the possibility of hiring someone to manage the social media marketing for you. Most communication agencies offer a digital marketing service and freelance social media managers (such as myself) are plentiful. Just make sure you are hiring someone with solid experience and references. A strategy I often recommend for my smaller clients with limited budgets is to have someone manage the social media marketing for you for a couple of months, while they train you or a staff member on the platforms, tools etc. Some clients feel comfortable taking the activities internally, whilst others welcome the idea of outsourcing the service.

Get the ball rolling

Now the fun starts! To get the ball rolling, you can now create social media profiles for your business, based on which platforms you have chosen. Take care to fill in as much detail as possible and to use high quality images for profile photos and cover images. Just like a business card, the images need to be professional (no selfies please!) and the appropriate size and resolution. If, like me, your design ability is restricted to resizing images in Word applications, rather get a professional designer to assist you. AdWeek recently published a cheat sheet that provides the creative dimensions you will need.

Once your pages are looking professional and sleek, it is time to tap into your contacts and client lists to invite them to join your pages. Have some content ready to post soon after, as you want to immediately start leveraging your new pages and social media community.

Measure and adapt

You’ve come this far, now what? I always remind my clients that a social media strategy and plan are flexible things. The reason for this is because there is no one recipe for cusses on social media. Even really big brands with professional social media teams backing them, get it wrong. See this not as a deterrent, but rather as an opportunity to try different things to achieve a successful result.

Measuring what success will look like to you, will link right back to your objectives that you set out. As success will not be the same for every business, so too will the way in it gets measured not be the same. However, here are a few free tools that can help you get started.

Just like running your business, you will soon learn that some things work well, and others not. Adapt your strategy and approach, keep an open mind and if all else fails, post some photos of kittens (just kidding, call in some help).

Need help?

Feeling overwhelmed by social media marketing for your business is completely normal. It is a daunting, ongoing task and not everyone will be able to successfully manage it on their own – that is why people like me have jobs! If you have more questions, please get in touch.

Leány Burmeister

Leány is an experienced marketing communications consultant and practitioner, specialising in digital content and marketing. She is a keen academic and researcher, and holds a masters’ degree in Corporate Communication Management. @LeanyBurmeister

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