Social media provides a platform where small businesses can promote their brand, create a recognizable identity, and connect with customers. You don't have to look far to find businesses who are doing it well. They've built an engaging presence on social media and gained thousands of followers. But how did they get there? It all starts with creating a social media strategy. If it seems mind-boggling, don't worry. The big guys started at square one once too. We've put together a guide to creating a social media strategy based on our experience with building successful social media presences for many of our clients.
Step One: Choose your social media networks
There are lots of social media networks out there and new ones are springing up regularly. So which ones should your business join? Here's a hint: It doesn't have to be all of them. Very rarely is every social media platform a good fit for a small business. Consider the demographics of each network and find the ones that are a good fit for you and your target audience. Once you have narrowed down the platforms, think about the amount of time and resources you have to dedicate to each one. If you're going to be managing your company's social media all by yourself, starting out on six platforms may not be such a good idea.
Step Two: Set up your account
Each social media network requires some basic information about your business in order to get started. Once your account has been set up, you get to customize it! Add avatars (an icon that will serve as your profile picture — most likely a company logo), cover photos, bios, contact information, etc. Each network is different so your visuals may need to be adjusted to fit their requirements. Here is a great resource for creating the proper image sizes for each network. It is important to complete your profile on each network so visitors can immediately see who you are and what you can provide them.
Step Three: Find your voice
This step often gets overlooked in the strategy planning process, but it is important. Determining the voice and tone you'll use on social media will help you determine what type of content to share. Your voice should align with your brand messaging. For example, the social media posts of a consulting agency are going to sound much different from that of a doughnut shop. This difference is due to the voice and tone that they've developed under their brand.
Step Four: Pick a posting strategy
Once you have your profiles set up, the next step is to think about what you're going to post and how often you're going to do it. There is a variety of post types: photos, text updates, links, quotes, videos, etc. Which one will work best for your business? Buffer suggests following the 4:1 strategy. The rules are simple: Pick a "staple" type that will make up the majority of your posts. For every 4 staple posts, add in a different type of post. This strategy will help keep your profile fresh and the content interesting.
Step Five: Test it out
There comes a point in every plan where you just have to jump in and see what works. Once you've completed steps 1-4, you've reached the "jump in" point. Begin posting regularly on your social media profiles following your posting strategy and social media calendar. Keep an eye on what seems to be working and what doesn't. Are infographics getting a lot of likes and comments? Try posting more of them. Are Thursdays a really slow interaction day? Try posting on Mondays instead. Test, analyze, adjust, and then test again. At its core, social media is all about connecting with people just like you and me. Remembering that actual people — not to mention current and potential clients — are looking at your posts will help guide your social media strategy going forward.