You’re probably saying, “Shoestring budget? How about no budget?” OK, shoestring or nothing at all, it doesn’t matter. Small businesses and budding entrepreneurs can take advantage of LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter free accounts and build large communities of followers. If they know how.
And if there is a tiny bit of money available, all the better. Each platform also offers low-fee marketing options as well. How can you as a small-business owner get the most out of your LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter accounts with very little or no money in the budget? Follow these proven techniques to build an engaged social media community.
What’s That on Your Profile?
Begin with a critical look at your social media accounts and the information you included when you first built your profile. Do your logos and business name match across all platforms? How about your profiles and descriptions?
Look at the Talus Payments LinkedIn profile. The About section begins with a pledge to the customer. The company goes on to explain what it does, benefits for customers and details its location and service areas. Does your company’s explain in simple language what it does and who it benefits? Optimize and, if necessary, update your descriptions and about pages.
Create Your Social Media Marketing Plan
Social media for business seemed to burst on the scene and most small businesses jumped on the bandwagon. That was a good thing. But, what may have been lost in the rush toward social media was a plan of action. If you haven’t up until now taken the steps to develop a social media plan and marketing strategy, it’s time to get going.
The key aspects of an effective social media plan include:
- Define your goals: Figure out what you most want to accomplish with social media. Make a list with the most important goal on top. Include secondary goals. For example, do you want to increase brand awareness? Is your top goal to sell more products or services? Do you want to send more people to your website, blog or online store?
- Identify your target audience: With social media, you can reach out to the whole world. But, do you want to? Identify your target customer and prospect. Plan your social media activities with your target group in mind.
- Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn — choose your platforms: Each platform is distinct and appeals to a different type of user. If your business is B2B, LinkedIn is the place to generate sales leads and strengthen your online reputation. If your business relies on visual representation, Pinterest and Instagram fit the bill. Twitter is ideal for artists, writers and designers to build credibility, interact with colleagues and find potential clients. Facebook is probably the one social platform you should absolutely use. Facebook has the largest group of users and its easy flow of communication means you can engage with followers in effective ways. If you’re like most small-business owners, time is at a premium. Choose one or two social media platforms that fit your business and spend your time there. Creating a profile on every channel available and not engaging with each one is a cardinal sin in the world of social media.
- Plan your content: One of the biggest mistakes small-business owners make in social media is neglecting to post content. Create a social media calendar to define the dates, platform, content type and posting frequency. If time is really at a premium, use one of the free or low-cost social media management tools to upload planned posts automatically.
- Please the eyes: It doesn’t matter what you do or sell, you have to use eye-catching images. People won’t sit and read a lot of text simply because there’s a bold headline. If you’re not a graphics genius, don’t despair. There are several free tools online where you can find great graphics and customize templates to fit your needs.
- Go all in: Engagement goes well beyond posting content. To use social media effectively, you have to find relevant and complementary sites, blogs and experts, follow them and share their content. Post and share information that fits the interests of your target audience.
- Use the analytic tools: Each platform offers a wealth of information for small businesses owners in the metric/analytics section. You’ll be able to see which posts garnered the most engagement, which was most shared or liked and find out who your followers are. Understanding what your community likes and responds to gives you a map to follow going forward.
Deliver the Best
To attract and keep your followers, you have to give them reasons to come back and engage. So what types of content should you regularly post? Industry news works well on LinkedIn, the B2B platform. Twitter users love to read about business and breaking news. Facebook followers come back for quizzes, contests and stories that tug the heart.
Make sure the content you post is relevant to your audience even if it has nothing to do with your business. For example, if yours is a small business and active in the community, your followers might be highly interested in the local high school basketball team’s participation in the state tournament.
Got a Little in the Budget? Here’s How to Spend It
For many small businesses, organic or free, social media marketing is all that’s required. If you have a small working budget for social media marketing, however, you can get greater results by utilizing some of the paid social media options available.
Facebook and Instagram are both great options for small businesses because of their low minimum spending levels. They also include the easy-to-use ad format and audience targeting options.
If Twitter is your platform of choice, consider paying for sponsored Tweets. LinkedIn offers several B2B advertising options.
Learn and Grow
As you become more aware of what’s working and not working in your social media strategies, make changes to reflect what you’ve learned. Nothing stays the same and what works for one business may not work for yours. Social media is a great marketing tool, but like everything else in business, you have to stay attuned to your customers as well as trends in your industry.
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Good luck in your search,