Effective social media strategies require proper planning and execution. If you’re new to this and expect to see results from a few blog posts and random updates, you might find the whole endeavor very disappointing. Serious marketers know that in order to harness the full potential of social media, one has to incorporate at least these three elements:

  • Listening to the audience
  • Sharing relevant messages
  • Enabling the audience to share the message

So what is it that you’re supposed to share? Good content. You can’t have effective social media marketing without good content. The entire marketing plan originates from a solid content creation strategy. The good thing about useful content is that it gets people to appreciate your small business and share; and the sharing is what grows your small business.

It costs very little to set up a marketing plan so the budget shouldn’t be a major factor when setting up. Ever heard that saying that goes “failing to plan is planning to fail?” It’s very true when it comes to marketing because creating a well detailed social media strategy is just as crucial as having a rock-solid business plan.

In order to attract, engage and ideally convert leads into customers, employ this strategy and ask yourself these questions:strategy

1. What should I aim to achieve from social media?

This depends entirely on what type of business you’re in. You may want to use it to gain exposure for your small business or to simply to interact with customers because it’s good for business. Remember, if you’re just winging it, your audience will know and that’s not good for you. Try to understand your customers’ goals and find out how to connect with that. One way to do this is to find out how you can use social media to solve your customers’ problems.

2. Who should set up the company’s social media account?

For your small business, it would be best to delegate the task to a staff member who has experience implementing effective social media campaigns. It can be a lot to handle if you take it all on yourself, especially if you’re not well-versed in the world of social media-marketing.

3. Should I create accounts on all social media platforms when starting out?

As a starting point, it would probably be best to operate with a presence on just one or two social networks and a blog. The network you choose will be determined by where your audience hangs out; so survey your customers and find out what their preferred platform is. The more your small business grows, the more social networks you can get into.

4. What’s the best social network for a small business?

You can never go wrong with a Twitter account. The platform is easy to learn and it gives your business a voice in the micro-blogging world. Another crucial network to be on is Google+, which will boost your site’s search engine rankings. You also can’t go wrong with Facebook and Pinterest. The greatest thing about social media is that it’s such a popular avenue it’s hard to find someone who isn’t using at least one of these. Social Media Activity

5. What’s the right frequency to post updates?

Two to five posts each day should be enough. Remember your followers visit social media websites at different times, and a single post each day couldn’t possibly be enough simply due to differences in timing. To reach more people, stagger the posts consistently throughout the day. Social platforms have different algorithms that play into what content shows on the feeds of its users. So posting at different times can help to ensure your audience will see your posts more often.

6. What type of content should I post?

Again, the purpose of your marketing campaign will determine what you post. But also, the platform you’re using matters to a certain extent. For instance, Pinterest and Instagram are inherently visual, so striking, memorable images detailing your products and services would be ideal if you’re operating such accounts.Company events and a few behind-the-scenes photos are great for connecting with audiences on these networks.

But you may also post updates on Facebook and have them trend well, especially if you’re posing a question or giving out relevant information. When using Twitter, try to keep a balance between tweets and re-tweets. Curate a diverse mix of content (photos, links, tips, short videos, thoughtful questions, etc.) across different platforms in order to keep things fresh and interesting. Also remember Twitter’s character limit and try to keep your marketing concise and to the point when using their platform.

7. Is social media a good platform to provide customer service?

Social media has become one of the most popular platforms for businesses to interact with potential and existing customers. You can use all the popular platforms to respond to customer questions and complaints, order status inquires, etc. Facebook is a great place to start when trying to connect with customers because you can create a business page for customers to leave reviews and rate your business and their experiences. You can also post and reply as your business page to give your business more presence.

8. How exactly does one convert followers into customers?

There aren’t any surefire tactics to get customers’ dollars. However, some tricks seem to work better than others. For example, Facebook ads are a simple, affordable way to expand your fan base, boost engagement, and collect sales leads. It’s entirely up to you to convert those leads. One of the best ways to go about converting leads is to implement a cross-platform contest that integrates all the popular platforms and perhaps offer sweepstakes that resonate well with the audience and draw in potential customers.

For instance, in order to drive consumers to your small business’s website, you could send a simple tweet that describes an ongoing contest on your Facebook account, and drop a link to the rules of the contest and the entry form on your website.Repurposed Content Facebook

9. How do people go about measuring the success of their marketing efforts?

It’s very important to make sure you always track your marketing metrics so you can determine which tactics are working and which aren’t. Some platforms come with their own metrics; Facebook, for instance, gives you administrator access where you can check out page insights data and use the data to evaluate what’s working and plan your future posts.

LinkedIn offers similar analytics which are essential for business pages. Google analytics can be used to measure the effectiveness of social media campaigns and see how your strategy’s driving your traffic to your website.

10. What is the biggest mistake to avoid?

You can’t afford not to have a social media plan, so create one and stick to it. Remember social media is constantly evolving and in order to stay ahead, you have to be prepared to adapt and redefine your strategy as needed. If you do this every few months, you will identify which tactics are redundant and, in the process, work out the best plan for your small business.

Most small businesses begin their social efforts by listening and engaging with their customers across different platforms. But at some point they have to look at the staffing required to carry out an effective campaign and ask what it is they’re really getting from social interaction. In order to maintain a social business strategy that binds disparate efforts together to create a long-term plan that keeps the business growing, significant time and resources have to be set aside.