Now that you’ve considered all the social media options for promoting your business, it’s time to start a few campaigns. As we mentioned before, Facebook, with its vast number of users across demographics, is a great way to reach a large audience. It’s also one of the most diverse social media platforms in terms of the type of content you can post. Links, images, hashtags, and videos are all allowed. Since Facebook is likely on your list of platforms to tackle, let’s start there.
1. Set up your page
Facebook business Pages are a whole different animal from Facebook personal Timelines. You need a personal account in order to create and manage your Facebook business page, so if you don’t have a personal Facebook account, that’s the place to start. Once you have a personal account, you’ll need to create a page for your business. This link steps you through how to set up a page.
One important thing to note, when you set up your page, you can request a web address like facebook.com/yourcompanyname, which makes it easy to find. If you think there is any chance that your company will want to expand its social media to include other platforms such as Twitter, Pinterest, FourSquare, etc. spend some time researching what names are available on the platforms that matter to you most.
Having a consistent name across platforms helps your customers find you and improves your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) so that new customers are more likely to discover your company. If you find a name that’s available across many platforms, it’s worth it to snap it up on as many as possible, even if you’re not ready to launch multiple social media channels just yet. You can always hold the other channels in reserve for a while.
2. Identify your audience
You already did some of this when considering which social media platforms were right for your business, but now is a great time to revisit. By always keeping your customer in mind as your audience, you’re able to tailor your social media messages to him or her. Consider:
- Who is your ideal customer?
- How old is he/she, and where does he/she live?
- Why is he/she attracted to your business and how can your business help him/her?
- What messages will your ideal customer be most receptive to? New products? Sales? Educational materials?
Once you’ve identified your audience, you can create a page that will appeal to him or her. Keep this customer in mind while adding in the about text for your business, the cover photo, and promotions. Everything from the look to the message to the posts should be created for this customer.
3. Create a content and a schedule for posting
One of the biggest problems small businesses have is creating content for social media. What are you going to post? Who has the time to post it? If you don’t think you have time to keep up with a social media channel, you may want to reconsider opening one. Customers who try to connect with you on a Facebook page and get no response can get frustrated and abandon your business. The same thing is true of getting no response when commenting on a blog post or mentioning your business in a Tweet.
A good solution for this is to figure out what you want to communicate and create a schedule for communicating it. Obviously you want to promote your business, but your audience will get bored if you self promote endlessly on your page. Would you want a TV channel that had only advertisements on it? Of course not! Instead, you need to balance promotion with other content that will interest your customers. How you do this will depend on your business. For example, a craft beer store might do the following:
- 10% – Promotion of in-store sales
- 10% – Promotion of new in-store products
- 20% – Promotion of in-store and area events such as beer tastings
- 20% – Interesting news about beer
- 20% – Photos of cool beer labels and from the store
- 20% – Educational resources on beer
Only about 30% of what’s going up on this Facebook page is self promotion, and of that much of it is informative. The followers of this page will feel like they’re learning and getting access to cool news, images, and products that they otherwise might miss. The balance might be different for your particular store, but the important thing is to find a balance that will work for you. Once you have this balance figured out, you can create a schedule and assign certain posts to certain employees to make sure that your Facebook page is constantly getting updated.
4. Use tools to make the most of your time
Say you’ve decided to post 16 times a week: 2 times each week day and 3 times each weekend day. Here’s the problem, you’re a busy business owner, when do you have time to do all this posting? If you’re on the floor helping customers and stocking shelves, or in the back accepting deliveries, creating schedules for your employees, and doing the books, when on earth are you going to have time to post all this great content your Facebook fans are expecting? This is a common problem for small business owners who wear dozens of hats, and unfortunately, there’s no easy solution. However, there are tools that can help. If you have even 30 minutes each week to sit down and create content, you can likely manage a successful Facebook page for your business.
Google news alerts: In you’re trying to find cool news related to your store’s products, Google news alerts are a great place to start. Set up alerts for your business’s name, for a keywords that you think will generate interesting news finds, or for people who are prominent in your industry. In the craft beer shop example from before, you might want to have alerts for some of the movers and shakers in the craft beer world, such as Dogfish Head, Fat Tire, or Sierra Nevada. Or you might want to have a few more generic terms, like “craft beer festival” or “new beer added”. These will help you keep track of news relevant to your audience so that you can sift through once or twice a week for new links to post.
Social media schedulers: There are a number of these and they all have different benefits and drawbacks. Sprout Social and HootSuite are probably the most well known and have pricing best suited to a small business. Both of these tools will allow you to connect your social media channel (in this case Facebook) and schedule posts in advance. They also allow you to monitor incoming content, such as comments or posts from fans.
Post distribution: If you have multiple social media channels, say a blog and Facebook, or Instagram and Facebook, you can link your accounts to make sure that someone subscribed to your Facebook page is also getting content from your other social media channels. There are a number of tools that can do this, from tools that are built into the social media interfaces (Instagram’s smartphone app automatically allows you to choose up to 6 other channels to post your photos to), blog add ons (Blogger, WordPress, and Drupal all have their own social share options you can choose from), to developer friendly tools like IFTTT (“developer friendly” is code for “not friendly for the average person” you will need some tech savvy to use these).
5. Monitor your audience’s response
Many companies get caught up in the number of fans they have on Facebook and forget about other indicators of customer interest. If you’ve gained a lot of fans, but none of them are actually turning into customers for your business, then you’re wasting your time. Fortunately, Facebook offers a way to monitor which posts your customers are responding to. You can use Facebook Insights to see which posts have gotten the most shares, the greatest reach, and the most comments or clicks. Based on this, you can hone your content so that you’re getting the most bang for your buck each time you post. Create a spreadsheet and track what the most popular posts are each week. Based on a few weeks of data, you can start tweaking your content to have more of what your audience craves and spend less time creating posts that don’t interest them.
6. Get help if you need it
Setting up a social media marketing strategy can be tough. Maintaining it can be even tougher. If you’re interested in getting help with brainstorming, creating, or managing your social media, let us know. Culture has helped a number of small business owners in the specialty food industry with their social media and we’d be happy to help you. For more information about our social media services, contact Stephanie at firstname.lastname@example.org. And, for more great tips, be sure to subscribe to our free professional newsletter: Cheese Heads Up!
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