Some SMEs are nervous of social media, perhaps because they haven’t got the resource and know-how or they don’t know how to get started. Some are worried about saying the wrong thing and having to deal with the fallout.
But social media engagement can be a really good way of shaping your brand’s voice and raising awareness while you are in the early stages. It can give you a head start when the real marketing work begins. The following five tips should help you get over some of the obstacles to taking the plunge with social media.
1. See what your competitors are up to
If you’re scratching your head about where to start with social media, it’s a good idea to look at your competitors and see how they’re using social media. What are they saying? Which platforms are they using? As a punter, how do you rate their success?
You might find that people aren’t half as effective as you expected them to be, because they’re facing exactly the same challenges as you. So there’s an opportunity here – learn from their failings and do it better yourselves.
Or if they’re doing it brilliantly you can learn from that too, using their social media tactics as a model for your own activity.
2. Stuck for something to say? Think beyond your own business
A common misconception with social media is that you have to write updates about yourselves all day long. And what if there’s simply not that much going on about which you can post? Simple – talk about Other Stuff.
Put yourself in the mind of your audience. While they’ll be interested to know the latest news coming from your company they’ll also be interested in industry news and your thoughts on developments within the sector. Phrase this as a question on Facebook and you’ll be giving them an opportunity to comment too.
If you’re stuck for content to share, try signing up to Google Reader or a similar service and subscribe to RSS feeds on a particular topic. This will give you a regular stream of interesting items to plunder!
Social media is a bit of a time vacuum. It’s not like you can do a week’s worth of updates in one go and forget about it – you need to go back and check for replies, or respond to current events. And then you come across an interesting link on Twitter and then watch a funny video on Facebook and ooh look…half an hour’s gone.
However, there is a lot of planning you can do. Think about the topics you want to cover during the coming week and plan what to post and when. You can use a third party client like Hootsuite to schedule tweets and Facebook updates in advance. Facebook have recently introduced the option to schedule and backdate posts in business pages – look for the little clock icon below the box where you write the update.
With your blog, a good tip is to write a schedule for the next three months – and stick to it! You can write a bunch of posts in one go and schedule them to publish at regular intervals (while you sit back, sip your coffee and feel smug at being so organised!)
4. Don’t spread yourself too thin
Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, Flickr, YouTube…it’s a lot to keep on top of, isn’t it? If resources are tight, it’s better to have, say, a quality Twitter feed which you update three times a day than to spread yourself too thinly across different platforms.
If you’re travelling around and have an image-heavy product, it could be that you could focus on Facebook and Twitter, but squeeze in a bit of Instagram when you’ve got time to kill on long train journeys. Or if your product is quite complex it could be worth investing some time in ‘how-to’ videos which you can then share on Facebook.
Then as your business grows and you increase resources you can look at expanding your social media offering.
5. Monitor your results
There’s no point spending all this time on social media if you’re not monitoring the results. This also allows you to tweak your campaigns as you go along, thinking all the time if you’re reaching the right audience and making them engage on your social channels.
There are lots of free tools available, for example:
- Google Analytics, which will tell you where the traffic to your website is coming from. It might yield interesting results – maybe all that time and effort put into Facebook is wasted and really it’s your Twitter account that drives interest.
- Hootsuite, which will give you all sorts of interesting stats on the content you are sharing
- Facebook Insights comes built into your Facebook page and gives you loads of information about who your updates are reaching
- Social Mention offers a real-time search on who’s talking about you, your product, your competitors or any topic related to your industry
- Take a look at this list for even more handy (and free) social media monitoring tools.