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Social media is here to stay.

Usage amongst popular networks such as Facebook and Twitter continues to grow. A decade ago just 7% of the US population had an active profile on a social networking site. But that number has risen dramatically over the last 10 years according to data from the Pew Research Center.

Adults who use social media

You would be hard pressed to find someone without at least one active social media profile.

Networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ boast significant numbers. Creating active profiles on these platforms is an excellent opportunity for business owners to grow their presence online and reach even more of their target audience. Social signals can even benefit your SEO marketing campaign as the increased exposure helps to build more relevant links to your pages.

A social media marketing campaign ultimately contributes to your bottom line. But implementing an effective campaign can be rather daunting.

Here we look at how small business owners can build and establish their brand with social media.

1. Establish Your Business Objectives
You wouldn’t start a business without a comprehensive roadmap.

The same applies for social media campaigns.

So the first step is to establish your objectives. Doing so allows you to quickly assess whether your campaign is resulting in a positive ROI for your business. Metrics such as Likes and Retweets are certainly good indicators to measure engagement but focusing on only these numbers ignores the bigger picture. When setting objectives, look at metrics such as traffic figures, leads generated, and conversions.

SMART is an excellent framework to follow when establishing objectives:

  • Specific: Set initial figures for your campaign from the number of followers to your pages to web referrals and conversions.
  • Measurable: All social media networks let you see key metrics regarding your profile. These numbers help you measure the effectiveness of your campaign.
  • Attainable: Objectives you set should be reasonable so set realistic figures as you plan out your social media marketing campaign.
  • Relevant: The goals you set should also be relevant to your business. If you sell primarily services, then you would likely want to measure leads generated and conversions.
  • Time-bound: Setting a deadline can help push you into action (e.g. generate at least 10 sales within one month). Deadlines should be realistic though so as not to discourage your team early on.

Setting objectives right from the start makes it much more likely that you will hit them. Start by setting several goals using the SMART framework to keep your campaign on track.

2. Start With the Main Social Media Sites
There are hundreds of social media networks.

But there are only a few that really matter.

Creating too many profiles is not only time-consuming, it also spreads your efforts too thin. There is only so much time in a day so a much better approach is to focus on only a handful of networks. The following networks are good starting places as they are amongst the most widely used:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • LinkedIn

Of course, there are other networks such as Pinterest and even mobile apps such as Instagram. These platforms certainly have high engagement but they also attract a different demographic compared to other networks. The social networks you choose should be aligned with your business objectives and fit the audience your business targets.

3. Set Up Your Profiles
Your social media profiles are an extension of your brand.

So it should be treated as such.

Social media is often the first point of contact that people have with a business. Fail to make an impression and you risk losing potential customers to a competing business. This is why your profile needs to be impressive to drive referrals back to your site.

Here is an example of an appealing profile from the Facebook page of a local restaurant:

Facebook profile example

Each profile is a valuable marketing asset so it is worth investing the effort to set them.

Here are the areas of your profile to pay particular attention to:

  • Description: Your bio is a chance to add your website and describe your business. Keep the description short and to the point. Be sure to include your target keywords for better search engine visibility. Including handles to your other profiles is a great way to grow your social following.
  • Images: The best way to make a great first impression with your visitors is with quality images. For your profile and cover pictures, upload those that reflect your brand. Each network has different dimension requirements so check these first and edit your pictures accordingly. Keep your images consistent across all your profiles.
  • Location: Local citations are mentions of your business name and address on other websites which help prove the legitimacy of your business, and can even boost your rankings. Enter in your business contact details for each of your profiles and be sure to keep the information consistent.

When creating new accounts, take the time to complete your profiles to make them stand out.

4. Create an Editorial Calendar
Why do you follow certain people or businesses?

Likely because they post interesting and engaging content.

Content is the foundation of any successful social media marketing campaign. You simply cannot create profiles and expect to gain a massive following overnight without any effort. So after establishing your objectives and building out your profiles, the next step is to create an editorial calendar.

The purpose of an editorial calendar is to address each of the following:

  • The type of content you will be posting (e.g. blog posts, infographics, videos, etc.)
  • How often you will post your content and to which networks
  • How you will promote newly created content

The point is to better manage and plan your social media efforts. You can even use simple spreadsheets to note down important metrics for each post such as the number of shares it gets. This way you can easily measure how your campaign is performing and see what type of content generates the most engagement.

5. Track and Measure Your Campaign
Actual figures paint a detailed picture of how your campaign is performing.

To measure the effectiveness of your marketing efforts, you need to be tracking key metrics such as website traffic, shares, and conversions. This type of information (which you can find in Google Analytics and directly from each network) is incredibly beneficial for a number of reasons.

If certain types of content are performing poorly, you can adjust your strategy accordingly and focus on those that have higher engagement. You can also see which social platforms offer the best return on your investment. If a certain platform fails to deliver any results, it doesn’t make sense to continue investing energy into it.

This kind of insight is exactly what is needed to grow your online presence and achieve your goals. Make it a habit to track and measure your campaigns on a daily basis so you can pivot as needed.

Social media represents an opportunity for small business owners to grow their online presence and reach more of their target audience. Regardless of which industry you are in, social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter can be invaluable marketing assets for your business. But simply creating accounts is not enough. Follow and implement each of the steps detailed above to gain traction for your social media marketing campaign.

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