How to create a social media strategy for your small business
Updated: Jul 11, 2022
Social media marketing is a powerful tool for generating leads, connecting with customers and building brand awareness. But if you don't have a strategy in place, your social media efforts can easily go awry. To help you get started on the right foot, I've put together this guide to creating a social media strategy for your small business.
Set up your profiles correctly
Make sure your profile is complete and easy to read.
Make sure all the info is correct. (You wouldn't believe how many people have a broken link to their website.)
Have a profile photo.
Have a cover photo, too—and make it the right size!
Define your audience
Your audience is the group of people you're trying to reach with your content. Understanding their interests and needs will help you create a social media strategy that speaks to them in a way that will make them want to engage with it.
Your target audience's demographics are an important part of defining who they are, but don't forget about behavioral aspects like location and buying preferences as well.
Check out: Do You Know Your Audience? and get a free Customer Profile Worksheet
Set SMART goals
SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound. These are the 5 qualities that make a goal smart.
Specific: A goal should be specific enough so that you can understand exactly what you want to achieve. For example “to get more likes on my posts” is not a good goal because it doesn't tell us much about how many likes will suffice. If we add the word “more than 50” then we have a better idea of how many likes are required to achieve the desired result.
Measurable: It's easy to say "I want more sales" but how will you know when you've done it? What does success look like? How much sales do I need? Having measurable goals helps us to track our progress and take action when necessary (see below).
Attainable: You have probably heard this one before – don't set yourself up for failure by putting yourself in an impossible situation! If there's no chance at all that your goal can be achieved then go back to step 1 and see if there's another way of achieving it!
Relevant – A relevant goal is aligned closely to your business objectives. Does this goal support your business’s objectives, vision, or values?
Time Specific - Give your goal a deadline. (Double Twitter follower numbers in three months.
Choose the right social media channels
It's tempting to think that you can just post to every social media channel at once and see what sticks, but this is a mistake. You need to know where your audience is, and how they behave on each channel. If you don't, it's impossible to create a strategy that will work.
Find your audience online: The first step in developing an effective social media strategy is knowing where your ideal customers are online. This means doing some research—talk with customers, read reviews about them and their competitors, check out their Facebook page or Twitter account if they have one—and then take note of which sites these people use most often.
Choose the right channels for business: Once you've identified the channels where your target audience hangs out most often (usually Facebook or Instagram), it's time to figure out which ones would be best for your business model as well as its needs and goals. For example, if one of the main goals of your business is getting local word-of-mouth referrals from satisfied clients, then Pinterest might not be such a great fit since its users tend not be very active when it comes sharing content on other networks like Facebook or Twitter (though there certainly are exceptions).
Create and curate engaging content
When you create content, think about how you can use social media to promote it. You can post the same content across multiple channels so that it reaches new audiences and has a longer shelf life.
For example, if you write an article for your blog and publish it on your website, then share the link on Facebook and Twitter as well as in an email newsletter to your email list subscribers (this is called cross-posting), then people who like or read each of those things will see this single piece of content again in their feed several times over.
Once you've created and shared engaging original content through social media channels, drive traffic back to your website or blog by including clickable links when appropriate. For example: "I wrote more about this topic here" or "To read more about this subject, check out my post [link]."
Use social media platforms such as Pinterest to pin images from posts featuring products related to your business that would help sell them online (e.g., clothing items). You can also try re-pinning images from other users' boards that relate directly back into what is being sold at yours—for instance, if someone else has pinned a photo of shoes onto their board titled “Things I want!" then re-pin something similar onto yours with a caption like "Our latest shoe collection just arrived."
Use the right tools
There are several tools available to help you create, schedule and engage with your audience. They can also be used to measure your social media performance. Here are some of the best:
SproutSocial - for team collaboration while social media management
Hootsuite - comprehensive platform for scheduling, analytics and monitoring
Buffer - simplified scheduling and customizing
Sendible - great for lead generation
MeetEdger - for convenient automation of posts
CoSchedule - for headline analysis and planners
Monitor, listen and engage
Monitor: The first step in social media is to understand what is happening on your channels. So many tools are available that provide free analytics, and it’s important to use them. They will help you see who is engaging with your content, how long they are staying on your pages and what else they like or follow. That way, you can focus on creating content that will resonate most with this audience.
Listen: Social media is all about two-way communication — listening as well as talking. You need to be able to hear what people are saying about you or your products/services online so that when they ask questions or give feedback (good or bad), you can respond quickly and appropriately.
Engage: It’s also important for brands to engage their audiences over social media platforms with more than just marketing messages; companies should share stories about themselves and their values so customers feel connected beyond just transactions at the point of sale.
Learn from your competitors
Now that you have a general idea of what you want to accomplish with social media, you can start to look at how your competitors are using it.
There are several ways to do this:
Find out what kind of content your competitors put on social media. This will help you determine what type of content people like and give insight into the types of posts that perform well.
Check out their profiles and see how they present themselves as brands on the platform. Do they have an active presence? How often do they post? Are there any special features or functionality that make their profile stand out from other brands?
Check out their audiences' engagement levels by looking at comments and likes for each post or tweet. What topics do their fans respond best to? Does the number of interactions correlate with the level of activity in other areas (e.g., search rankings)?
Use this guide to create a social media marketing strategy and reap the benefits of social media.
Social media marketing can be a powerful tool. It allows you to connect with your audience, build a following and drive leads.
But if you don't have a strategy, social media can be a waste of time and money. You need to understand how customers use social channels, what they're looking for and how to speak in the language of your audience if you want to succeed with it.
This guide will help you create an effective marketing plan that's aligned with your brand goals, using the right tools and techniques. If you want to chat about how your social media presence can be improved, schedule a FREE 15min consultation.