Tips for building a small business social media strategy
- 44 Comment
Listening. It should be at the top of your small business’ list if you’re developing a social media strategy. It’s not a coincidence two respected social media advisers both ranked “listening” as the focus area for small businesses.
Chris Brogan, social media adviser, author, Trust Agents, offers this advice, “Listen. And Listen Deeply.”
Scott Monty, head of social media, Ford Motor Company, “Determine where your audience is and begin by listening.”
How do you listen online? I recently shared a “how to” post for monitoring. Read it. Use it. Begin your social media listening stage.
Listening should be the FIRST PHASE of your strategy and continue through all stages (i.e. planning, execution, etc). Before you begin, know what you want to accomplish: find business leads, establish yourself as an expert, connect with peers, raise money, meet bloggers and journalists, etc.
This strategy is most likely part of (or compliments) your marketing and communications outreach, right? If you don’t have that in place, back up a few steps.
Keep these four things in mind when outlining your strategy: 1) Listening; 2) Emergence; 3) Sustainable; 4) Exit. Listening and emergence are self-explanatory. What do I mean by sustainable? If you, or the designated social media person, went away tomorrow how would your online strategy change? A sustainable plan means anyone could pick up where you left off, is familiar with the strategy and tools, etc. If your plan cannot be sustainable, build in an exit plan. This is literally the steps you need to take, including communication, before removing your online profiles. I recommend an exit strategy to all clients, regardless of whether or not their plan is sustainable.
A high level overview of categories recommended for your social media strategy:
- Listen and Monitor
- Read, respond, share and engage
Managing online networks and providing content can be time consuming, especially when you’re a small business owner. How do you keep it all straight? I’ve created a very simple tool I provide to my clients to help manage content, the social media tactic grid. It’s literally a table with social media/networks on the top and types of content in the left column.
EXAMPLE: If you provide “discounts” as content, select which networks are appropriate. These will be your social networks (i.e. Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare) and not YouTube or Flickr.
These are a few of my tips to get you started. I also posed the question, “What tips do you have for small businesses developing an online strategy?” to several online networks. Here’s what they had to say:
Noah Cohen, “Engage – don’t just talk at your audience. Listen, respond and communicate.”
Heather Lytle, “Monitoring. Having a concrete monitoring strategy to identify what is being said and who is saying it—then acting on it. Identify Opportunities. Small businesses often don’t realize how listening can identify opportunities. Who is talking about them often leads to who needs them. What is being said about the competition often leads to opportunities to step in. How to make a wrong a right. How to identify issues before they become a crisis.”
Ross Evans, “Offer engaging, two dimensional content/conversations/solutions for the brands consumers….When you invite your community in to play, you’re not the expert anymore, they are. Tough pill to swallow, but if you don’t give up some of the control over the conversation, you’re just offering a static, one-way street of useless noise.”
Mark Ragan, CEO, Ragan Communications, “ Never bore your audience. Riveting, funny, compelling content is key. Always has been. Always will.”
Amanda Vandenhurk, “It has to fit your business goals & be part of well-throughtout marcomm plan. And if you don’t how to begin or use SM then hire a PR professional w/ depth. Get it right from the start.”
Rebecca Ames, “Don’t get seduced by design. Use free/cheap & easy interfaces; keep it simple & scale up with demand. Focus on relationships!”
DJ Litten, “Drive people back to your site.”
What’s your tip for small businesses developing a social media strategy?