Every day in the world of social media marketing, there’s a new tool, feature, or technique to master, yet for us small business owners, budget, and staff are not increasing accordingly. The marketing person, customer service department and finance person are probably all you, anyway.
Search how to use social media advertising to promote small business, and you'll find experts telling you to join every social network and spend all day posting, tweeting and pinning. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
Here are the steps, solutions, and goals to help you maximize your social media profits. We’ll start with how to free up your time and what you need to have in place. Then we’ll go into how to make that multiply your business, including the nitty-gritty of setting up automation so that the system practically runs itself.
Step 1: Free up your time on social media
Cut down to just one or two social media platforms
Just because there are lots of shiny social media platforms and tools out there doesn’t mean you need to use them all.
The social strategy team for Microsoft Office used to cover a few dozen social networks, then cut it to primarily Facebook. Their budget is bigger than yours, but even they acknowledge the need to focus on the basics. So cut back and get Facebook right before attempting other channels. (Start with Facebook because their segmentation and ad capabilities are more sophisticated than other channels.)
Clarify your business mission and goals
Have you clearly defined what you stand for and your unique differentiator? It’s not only a social media thing—all your efforts flow from this. Have an authentic mission statement that goes beyond making money or serving the customer better. Your goals are not just specific numbers (like revenue, leads, clicks and cost per lead), but roadmaps to fulfill your mission.
Your content emanates from this mission as well. If you’re not in alignment, then no amount of email marketing or blasting to social channels will solve the issue (and you’ll waste a lot of time trying to force it to). If you don’t have a clear vision, figure that out first.
Don’t let technology own you—make it work for you
If you find yourself getting bogged down researching stuff like CPM versus CPC bidding or learning a ton of third-party tools, stop! Unless you’re a software developer, you don’t need all that. If you’re running ads, for example, use Facebook’s default optimized CPM (cost per 1,000 impressions).
Step 2: Put your social media “plumbing” in place
Bill Gates said that technology helps a profitable company make more profits, while it amplifies losses when there’s inefficiency.
Social media is the same thing: if your basic mechanics are wrong, no amount of wizardry will make up for it. Ensuring you have the right systems in place is necessary to drive your master social media plan forward. Here’s a prioritized list.
These are essential to have:
- A Google Analytics account with conversion tracking on whatever leads/sales matter to you.
- A dollar value assigned to leads, sales, or other events. Choose a placeholder value if you’re not sure. Learn several ways to identify your customers’ dollar value here.
- A Google AdWords account, so you can run remarketing ads for people who abandon your site.
- A Facebook page set up for your business with a proper cover image, a video, link to your site and 10 posts.
- A Facebook ads account set up so you can boost posts and import audiences.
- A Twitter profile for your business, properly completed, so you can check analytics and post/reply to tweets.
- Facebook and Twitter conversion tracking on your site in the same places that you have Google conversion tracking.
- Marketing automation system with at least 1,000 email addresses on your list. If you’re short, then don’t expect high ROI at first.
These are important to have:
- Google Webmaster Tools, so you know what keywords people are searching on.
- YouTube channel for your business with at least one professionally made video of you describing your business.
- Twitter ads account so you can run Twitter remarketing (called Tailored Audiences).
- LinkedIn company profile (not just your user profile) with ads account set up.
If any of these pieces seem technically daunting, you can hire people to set them up for you for a few hundred dollars.
Step 3: Get your data together
Unite your marketing channels so you can reach customers and potential customers wherever they are.Connect your website and email list to Facebook, Twitter and Google; then you can have all your audiences in one place and start following customers around.
If you set it up properly, when readers visit your website, you automatically start messaging them on Facebook. When people click on your messages in any channel, whether delivered through ads or not, you have an opportunity to get them on your email list, visit your website, or perform some other action. If you get them in one channel, then the messaging sequences fire automatically in another channel.
Step 4: Improve your content
Actively source and generate fan feedback and reviews on all channels.
Want to know how to promote your business on social media? Accept that your customers’ words are more believable than yours. So have you gathered feedback across all social channels to have a war chest of reviews and testimonials to use? Are you using email marketing to actively and automatically solicit feedback from customers?
Word of mouth marketing is now public. In other words, your best marketing is now what people say about your company in social channels, not what you say. So if it’s good, amplify it.
Identify, grouped by persona, who your top fans are—as opposed to who your noisiest fans are.
When you’ve done a good job assembling your audiences, you’ll have a group of distinct personas and their underlying stories. Check out the book Buyer Legends if you want to get into the psychology of your customers.
Because we can readily identify influencers by their job title, workplace, and relationship to us, we can use social media ads to amplify organic recommendations from our top fans.
Know which pieces of content resonate best with each of your customer segments by product and seasonality
It could be the top five Facebook posts or the top five referral URLs into your site. Just look at the top 5 items every few days. Spend 10 minutes doing this as opposed to a whole hour each month. Short rapid cycles give you the opportunity for quick iteration. Find the profitable content and audience pairings and tune them with the least amount of effort.
Remember, your audience is not just current or potential customers—it’s your partners, employees, media, and anyone in your ecosystem. Do you have content for all of them, too? If not, better get going.
Step 5: Develop content sequences
The idea is to get your social media channels (Facebook to start) to work just like your email (marketing automation), where people get delivered a sequence of content triggered by who they are and what they’ve just done. For example, if they’ve just signed up for your list or have been to your website, the system automatically starts sharing a sequence of posts on their Facebook News Feed.
As an industry, marketing is moving toward these remarketing sequences, whether it’s email marketing, social marketing (same as email, but following you around in social), web remarketing (following you around on the web) or app remarketing (you might build a mobile app someday or use one from a third party).
So the channels themselves won’t matter anymore if you’re a business owner. The technology behind them is converging such that you’re using them generically as remarketing vehicles, reallocating your content, time and dollars based on the highest marginal ROI. This spells the death of the channel-specific experts, gurus or marketers.
Your job is to regularly tune your campaigns, paid or organic, as your products, marketing messages, and customer base shifts. Anything you learn in one channel, you reapply in another.
Step 6: Optimize your targeted ads
Start thinking of social networks as what they really are: ad networks. They provide conveniences to users (“free” email and photo sharing, for example) in exchange for all their information. You can embrace this fact and learn how to use social media advertising to promote your small business, through precise targeting.
Ad targeting can help you reach your core audience (people who are already connected to your business) as well as your extended audience (people similar to your core audience who you’d like to influence).
People don’t typically think of social media as driving direct sales—perhaps in some vague, branding way, but not concretely. But that's no longer true. If you're looking for tips on how to sell on social media, retargeting is the answer.
There are other efficiencies, too. Since you’re triggering message delivery on what people just did, you don’t have to keep creating new content each day. Plus, once your social systems are up and running, they’ll continue to grow their targeting databases, allowing you to improve your audience targets and conversion rates.
Step 7: Get metrics and analysis right
Remember, metrics should be measurements of your business objectives. You’ll use the exact same business metrics across all your channels, whether it’s Facebook, email or your website. Don’t use social media metrics such as Twitter impressions—they’re bogus. Focus on business goals, not reach, pins, or shares. Don’t look at metrics unless they’re actionable, no matter how pretty the charts are.
Once you’ve targeted and automated your Facebook social marketing, you can actually spend a lot less time looking at analytics than you already do and grow your sales while being more productive. For small business owners, you’ll want to peek at your Google Analytics and Facebook analytics for 10 minutes once a week. Unless you have a large ad spend, a ton of time to optimize, or your content engine isn’t already working smoothly, this part isn’t going to do you much good. Respond to people in social media, not charts.
Most tools say they’re analytics, but really they’re report generators. They don’t tell you WHY conversion rates went up or down or why that new landing page isn’t doing so well. Usually, the problem is one of content as opposed to choosing the right keyword, interest target or bid.
What hasn’t changed in marketing
Even though social media is now a huge player in small business marketing, don’t think you have to become an expert in this new industry to use it successfully for your business. The psychology of buying won’t ever change. You’ll still need to reach people, collect their information and convince them to buy (audience, engagement, conversion). This framework will be rock solid no matter how often social networks, search engines, and email providers change.
Little steps, especially automated ones via social networks, will guide people down that funnel, automatically sending more sales your way.