When using social media marketing to grow a business, the worst action is no action, and the worst problem is invisibility- not bad perception. If you’re part of the conversation, you can always know what people are saying about your small business; but if nobody knows about you, then you have no chance of growth. What this means is that you need to get involved: not only to exploit the many small business opportunities available for your business, but also to develop a winning reputation.

It’s a good idea to start by developing a plan that takes into account the social trends that characterize social media interaction today and organize a framework that will help make your conversations popular and relevant. But with all this mass of social networking sites and tools available today, how does one navigate through it all to set up a strategy that works? Well here is how!

Set up goals.

Think about what you hope to achieve from the social interaction. Are you doing it to generate direct sales, offer better customer service, or better yet, develop stronger relationships with your clients? Your answers to these questions will determine how you go about setting goals.

Consider your resources.

It’s going to take more than a clever idea to set up a marketing plan that works: you need people working for you. Someone has to set up the social media accounts, engage with customers and respond to questions, create compelling content, etc.

Know your audience.

Find out where your audience spends time, what conversations they are involved with, who influences them, and what kind of information they’re looking from you. In order to provide your audience what they want, you first have to understand who they are, how they think, and what they want from you.

Post good content.

Once you find out what your audience is into, you can then work on giving them something to talk about and possibly share. Conversations have to keep going and this means creating lots of good content for the audience. Try to create a variety of different types of content that can be shared.

Consider quality.

While the pressure of creating content is certainly understandable, you cannot resolve to create a bunch of pointless topics for the sake of interaction; people will lose interest. The goal here is to build actual customers and that won’t happen if you’re not offering useful information and products/services.

  • It’s tempting to promote your products every two minutes on every social platform available to you. You need also post content that is not self-promotional so that you don’t come off overly self-absorbed or too salesy.
  • Find time every day to look up what’s going on in social circles and engage with your customers to find out what the general vibe is about your brand.
  • Learn the culture of social networks. What are your competitors doing and what does that teach you. Learn more about social trends and find out where companies or brands have gone wrong with marketing strategies so that you don’t make similar mistakes.
  • Acquire brand ambassadors by observing the most active people in the social networks and encourage them to sell your brand.

So which social platforms should you concentrate on? Most big businesses operate dozens of social media accounts but they have more people working on that so your small business might not be able to start big. Besides, you want to learn how to use each platform perfectly to get your message across and this might take more time if you embarked on creating 20 social media accounts at once. Focus your attention to where it matters and learn everything about those platform and how small businesses use them to promote their own brands.

Facebook

get-started-with-social-media2When it comes to this, the numbers don’t lie; you want the websites with the highest number of active users in order to get a broader reach. Facebook alone will get you access to a social network with over a billion users worldwide. If Facebook was a country somewhere off the coast of California, it would be the third largest in the world in terms of population.

Features such as Like, Timeline, Newsfeed, Apps, Cover Photo, and Mobile Upload will be useful as you gradually build a connection with your prospects, so learn the lingo and get to work.

Twitter

You get up to 140 characters when tweeting to your followers and you can include links, videos and photos as well. Adding images and videos expands the message because the words are somewhat limited and you need to communicate more effectively than 140 characters can articulate.

If you have an existing Twitter account for your small business but have let it drop off lately, you might want to take a fresh look at what Twitter’s offering. Features such as real-time marketing and multi-screen usage will be useful to your marketing efforts. In the world of micro-blogging, Twitter stands as the most powerful tool you can use for business. Other popular microblogging sites include Plurk, FriendFeed and Tumblr.

Present your brand

Your social media marketing accounts form the foundation of your marketing efforts. They give you the chance to tell the world about your business and so they need to be well defined. Create a web presence that people find appealing and distinct; that way people recognize your brand across multiple platforms.

In order to present the brand more confidently, you have to fill up and complete the profile, and make sure people know your bio, the actual location of the business and the address to the official company website.

When creating a social network for your small business, start with these people:

  • Customers
  • Business partners, suppliers and contractors
  • Relevant trade organizations for your industry
  • Local businesses in your neighborhood