Making Social Media Marketing Easy for Small Businesses

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If you’re running your own shop, be it a one person operation or simply a very small team of folks, you may look at any kind of marketing as a nightmare you don’t want to deal with. As John summed up nicely in his post about running your own freelance business, people who are running their own shops often are already overwhelmed with everything that needs to get done. Although, yes, in an ideal world, you would hire someone to help you with your content and social media marketing, you may not have the funds to add another person to your team. Here are three ways small businesses can make social media marketing easy–without breaking the bank.

1. Brand Soul-Searching

Earlier this week on the WebDevStudios blog, I wrote about how to use, “Show; don’t tell,” in your marketing strategy. You need to figure out your values and your tone first.

Once you figure that out, any kind of social media marketing or branding becomes infinitely easier. You know who you are. You know what you stand for. You know what you’re about. You know who your audience is–and who you want your audience to be.

From there, knowing what to share, when to share it, and how to connect with your audience becomes a whole lot easier. If you don’t know who you are, you won’t know what to say. If you don’t know who you’re talking to, you will hesitate when it comes to your delivery. Knowing your brand’s fundamental characteristics will allow you to move forward confidently, and take the time out of wondering if this is going to be a good fit.

Of course, it’s still a flexible process, and as you start sharing content, you’ll need to tweak your strategy as you go along. As you start sharing things, you’ll realize that certain things get more of a response from your audience than others. You’ll have access to metrics, depending on the platform that you’re using (although most, if not all, at this point offer some kind of measurement). You can use this information to understand that your audience prefers Star Trek to Star Wars, or tutorials to thinkpieces, or other valuable information that you can keep in mind moving forward.

2. Creating a Schedule

Yes, like anything else, you’ll want to figure out the best times to share on social media to get the biggest response.

There are many studies that evaluate the best times to post on different social media platforms, and you can utilize that information, combined with details about your audience (what timezone they are in, etc.) to determine what your schedule should look like:

This has been said time and time again, but one of the MOST important things you can do is create consistency. Not only do you want to consistently encourage people to click into your content/site, but it also shows that you’re engaged, present, and available.

If a business page has zero updates for an extended period of time, how does someone who has never been introduced to your business before know you’re still around? How do they know if you’ll reply to their concerns? Being engaged creates trust and demonstrates reliability.

3. Delegate: Automate

If you can’t delegate to a person, delegate to a service. Sitting down once a week or once every two weeks to schedule up social media postings is smart; it means you can focus on monotasking and still share content at the best times as noted above.

For WebDevStudios and the associated brands, we use Buffer to automate many of our posts. We share posts from the archives, as well as news about us or our clients, and anything cool out there, from things that are simply interesting to extremely useful how-tos and relevant WordPress news. Specifically for Pluginize, we make sure to share regular links to our products, as well as share articles that we think our audience will find relevant. As you already know if you’re here, both WebDevStudios and Pluginize have weekly updates to our respective blogs, and we make it a point to share those, too!

Automating is also a great way to post things that you know you’re going to want going out multiple times, like job listings, event reminders, etc. If you know you’re going to want to push it multiple times over the next week (or months!), you can save yourself some trouble by pre-scheduling those.

Although some conversation/engagement purists believe automation kills the conversation and is the death knell of audience engagement, it’s foolish to deny that automation is an extremely helpful tool. It is! But social media automation isn’t meant to replace active engagement entirely.

If you’re going to automate, you’ll still want to check in on your platforms regularly (daily, if not a few times daily on business days!). Do a quick check in, answer any questions/concerns should they come up, and get your retweet on! Simply automating and removing an active voice from the conversation is the equivalent of leaving it completely untouched: It makes your audience believe you are not engaged, and destroys that trust and reliability that I mentioned building above.

There is no perfect way to handle this all by yourself, but hopefully, these three things can help you make running the social media for your small business a whole heckuva lot easier. Any engagement is better than none, so get out there and tell people who you are!

Anyone out there struggling with running their social media marketing? Throw your questions in the comments! I’d love to help you out.

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