Engage, Structure, and Connect With Your Online Community
Social media works hand-in-hand with other, more traditional SEO strategies. Where SEO is about building a solid structure on which customers and search engines can navigate your content, social media marketing is about sharing that content and giving customers a reason to interact with you.
Building a community and managing social engagement isn’t always easy, especially when it feels like a new social platform is “bringing in all the cool kids,” and if “you’re not on it you’ll never generate results.”
The truth is that with a good plan and a lot of persistence even small companies can use a few social channels to really improve their results.
The Small Business Advantage
Social media has to be about more than occasionally sharing a link. In order to really be successful, it has to be about engaging with a community and becoming the voice of the truly concerned and actually knowledgeable. Your customers should feel like this is a direct line to the people in charge.
In a small business, this can actually be the case.
Huge companies with massive marketing teams have to deal with all the legal and brand questions that simply don’t apply to a smaller company. You have an opportunity here to be real and personable – to be the kind of person that your customers want to talk to.
So Where Do You Start?
Assuming that you can’t afford to have a community manager monitoring six or seven networks at once, you’re going to have to keep your efforts a little more focused.
That doesn’t mean you should pin all your hopes on Facebook, though, because different platforms can reach different demographics.
Start with the major platforms, because they all offer specific benefits:
- Google+ Okay, you may have heard that Google+ was a ghost town and that no one uses it. The truth is that it is still growing in credibly fast and the ability to segment your audience for sharing plus a range of other features (like Hangouts Online) makes it an extremely effective tool. The ultimate truth, though, is that if Google is important to you business, then Google+ should be one of your highest priorities.
- Facebook You just can’t skip the largest social network in the world. This is where a huge portion of your customer base turns to their friends on this network to see what they think about products or services. You have to be part of that conversation.
- Pinterest This is particularly useful for companies that have a line of products that they sell, but it is also useful for people who deal mostly in digital content. This network rose to prominence extremely fast, and it’s evolving all the time.
- Twitter This is the easiest way to keep customers in the loop without being overly intrusive. You may only have a few words, but you can use them to great effect and drive a lot of traffic to your website.
It’s Not About You
The key to using these social platforms is to remember that it isn’t all about you. If your entire campaign consists of nothing more than posts about yourself and what you’re doing, your customers will get bored. They won’t see you as the person they like to interact with but as the company who is trying too hard to get their attention.
Take part in the conversations happening around your industry. This may mean interacting with thought leaders, following other businesses, and sharing content from your users. The real key for a small business to succeed in the social media arena is simply to be a part of the community. This means being real, open, and consistent.
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This mini-series is based off of this e-book, Internet Marketing 101: How Small Businesses Can Compete With the Big Guys, written by Rapid Advance. Interested in writing a mini-series for Firmology? Get in touch with the editor!