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How to create a social media strategy for your small business

Written by Bedfordshire Chamber of Commerce | 04 Mar 2020

There are many benefits of using social media for your small business. It can help create awareness of your company, boost traffic and SEO, and increase customer engagement.

But 24% of small businesses don’t use social media, according to Small Business Trends. Often, companies find themselves held back by concerns like;

  • How do I get started?
  • What do I post?
  • How can I be sure my target audience will see my posts?
  • Will they even be interested in what I’m sharing online?

Even if your small business is already active on social media, you may be wondering whether it’s really worth your efforts. Perhaps you’re posting from time to time, but feel you’re lacking in any real direction.

What you need is a carefully planned social media strategy. And the good news is, creating one is actually pretty simple.

Follow these 8 simple steps to maximise the social media opportunity for your business:

1. Define your goals

First, identify what you want social media to achieve for your business, as this will determine what kind of content you post and how often. Your goal might be to promote your product or service, drive traffic to your website, or generate new leads - perhaps all three.

You will also need to think about how you can measure those goals. For example, if your aim is to promote your product or service then you’ll want to measure the number of sales or enquiries that come through social media. Make sure your goals have a real impact on your business rather than simply trying to get likes.

2. Conduct a social media audit

If you’re already using social media, now is a good time to evaluate your existing efforts. Think about your current strengths and weaknesses and determine what is and isn’t working. Perhaps there are particular posts that drive traffic to your website while others don’t. Maybe posts shared in the morning get more engagement than those shared in the evening.

3. Understand your audience

Understanding your audience is key to your social media strategy. Start by compiling data on your current customers; their age, occupation, gender, what they are interested in, when they go online, and how they use social media.

If you’re already using social media, there are ways you can gain a deeper insight into your audience. Through social media analytics, you can find out who’s interacting with you online. Hootsuite have a great beginners guide to using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn analytics that's worth checking out.

The more you can understand about your target audience, the more you can share content that will resonate with them and help you meet your goals.

4. Research competitors

Look around to see how your competitors are using social media. What kind of content are they posting? And how often?

Of course, you don’t want to copy your competitors. But you can learn from what they have done well and not so well so you can avoid making any of the same mistakes. It’s also good to know who could be a threat and to highlight any gaps in your own strategy.

5. Identify which social platforms to use

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn; these are the main social media platforms used by small businesses. But which should you be focusing on?

Your choice will come down to who your audience is and the platforms they are using. For instance, if you know your customers are heavily active on Instagram, then you’d be mad not to have a presence. And if you’re in the B2B space, you’ll certainly want to be on LinkedIn.

If you’re not sure what platforms your customers are using, you might find this list of social media demographic information useful. Do your own research too - why not ask some of your existing customers what platforms they are using?

It may be overwhelming to go headfirst into sharing on all social media platforms relevant to your business. So you may find it helpful to just focus on one or two to start with.

6. Create a social media calendar

A social media calendar will allow you to plan what to post and when. It will help you to stay active and consistent and to tie in your social media activity with your wider marketing campaigns.

Your calendar should include key information such as the date and time of a post, caption, hashtags and imagery. How you create your calendar is up to you, but many small businesses find using an Excel spreadsheet is ideal.

7. Execute your social media strategy

When it comes to executing your strategy, you’ll need to decide how you want to schedule posts and who is responsible for doing so.

You can schedule your posts directly on the relevant social media platform. Or you can choose to use a tool like Hootsuite, Buffer or HubSpot to eliminate some of the leg work. With these tools, you can create your social posts in advance and set them up to publish automatically at the right time.

Make sure you know who in your team is responsible for posting as well as updating the social media calendar with future activity. It might be just one person or you may decide to share the responsibility across a few people.

Be sure to keep referring to your goals and stay consistent with posting.

8. Measure the impact

It’s important to keep track of what works and what doesn’t so you can adjust your strategy and refine your efforts to improve results.

Social media management tools - like the ones mentioned above - can help you with this. You can set them up to track the metrics that matter to you. Again, the metrics you track will come down to what your goals are. If engagement is your key focus, monitor how many shares and likes your posts are getting. If driving traffic to your website is your top priority, monitor your click-through rates on your posts.

With a well-thought-out social media strategy, you can increase brand awareness, drive more traffic to your website and generate more leads and sales. If you aren’t yet making the most of the world of social media, what are you waiting for?

If you require any help or guidance in setting up or maintaining your social media strategy, why not reach out to one of our Chamber members who are experts in this field? Take a look at our membership directory for a list of Chamber members in the Marketing industry here.

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Topics: marketing, social media, small business

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