Chances are, you opened your business because you have a passion for your product, whether it’s Italian food, accounting, interior design or anything else that might be the focus of your energies.
For some business owners, though, social media marketing may fall somewhere toward the bottom of that passion list. We all know it’s useful and can help bring in customers, but who has time for it? And what are you supposed to do while you’re online?
Fear not: You can have social media success by breaking the effort up into short increments that feel doable — as little as 10 minutes a day. All it takes is a little bit of advance planning and the right tools.
First, you need to know what to do while managing your social media profiles, whether you’re on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. There are three basic activities you should consider engaging in every day:
The good news is all of these can be done quickly and efficiently within a single dashboard. There are many options for dashboards, but for small businesses I recommend Hootsuite; it’s a free tool that allows you to plug in up to five social networks and post to any or all of them at the same time.
From a single dashboard you can see tweets from accounts you follow on Twitter (or tweets mentioning you), as well as posts from Facebook, Instagram, FourSquare and more. I also suggest dedicating columns to words or phrases that are related to your business, so the next time someone tweets they’re looking for a “tax specialist in Grand Rapids,” you can be there to respond.
Once you’re set up with a dashboard, you can now begin to form a routine that quickly covers the three important aspects of social media:
Review your dashboard. Are there posts you need to respond to, such as a customer requesting clarification on your hours or voicing a concern? Are people frequently mentioning a trend in your industry or a hot local news item? A bit of monitoring goes a long way toward learning a lot about your customers and community. Responding to questions and concerns is a simple way to earn customer loyalty and referrals. Set up individual columns in your dashboard (most services have detailed how-to information for this sort of thing) to search for terms that are related to your business name, business category and other areas of interest, and scan it at least once daily. This is also when you can find, follow and friend people who could be customers or influence other potential customers.
Try to keep all your social channels active, and give people a reason to notice them by making regular posts. Some consumers cite over-sharing as one of the reasons they dislike brands on social media, so I advise tweeting about once a day on Twitter and posting on Facebook two to three times a week. Share content that’s useful and relevant, such as new items on your menu, deals or your insight on a newly passed law that will affect your customers. Be sure to include a call to action, such as “click this link” or “leave a comment.” Regularly share photos, especially on Facebook, where viewing photos is one of the most popular activities among users. The good news is that your social media dashboard can give you the ability to post to one or all of your social networks at once, making this a relatively simple task – just make sure it’s relevant and compelling content.
This is where you can connect with audiences in a way that no other marketing channel can replicate. Find people in your target audience – whether it’s individuals from a certain geographic region or profession, an industry influencer, or anyone else who would benefit from exposure to your brand – and consider interacting with at least one person per day. Consider commenting on their Facebook wall, retweeting their message, leaving your thoughts on their blog post, or even send them a “thanks for sharing that link” message. The point is to get your brand on the radar of the people who matter the most.
Spending 10 minutes each day doing these three things can help you slowly build an influential presence online. Remember that social media success isn’t best measured by the amount of followers or fans, but by the quality of followers and your level of influence with them. The more time you’re able to spend, the quicker you’ll see your influence grow. Get started with just 10 minutes a day, today, and see what can happen.
Have questions or need more specifics (such as how to set up a dashboard, or what types of content you should post?) Let me know in the comments.
Brandon Carter is the marketing communications manager for Access Development, a Salt Lake City-based provider of merchant content for loyalty and rewards programs. Click here to learn more about Access.
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