Business Magazine

Incorporating Social Media into Your Small Business Marketing Plan

Posted on the 02 February 2012 by Onqmarketing @onqmarketing

Guest Post by Amy Moczynski

Social media isn’t just something for college students and your teenage neighbors anymore. Now, a social media presence is a vital part of a digital marketing strategy and businesses need to use it alongside SEO efforts to increase brand awareness and drive traffic to their website. But just setting up profiles on Facebook, Twitter, and Google isn’t going to be enough.

What do you need to know to create a great social media strategy for your small business?

Facebook

With more than 800 million users and projections saying this social media network will hit 1 billion users later this year, Facebook can be considered the king of social media. If you don’t have a Facebook page set up for your small business, you’ll want to do so. Include images of your business, which can be your logo or photos of your products, as well as a description of your business and a link back to your website so people viewing your page can easily find your website if they want more information.

Make sure to invite your friends, coworkers, business contacts, and other personal or professional acquaintances to like your page on Facebook. Inviting those you know to like your nonprofit’s Facebook page is a way to spread the news about your cause and increase brand awareness. Provide a link to your Facebook page in your newsletter, website, and email signature so anyone who comes in contact with you or your website is aware that you can connect with them on Facebook.

Once you have your Facebook page up and running, make sure you are posting on your page a few times a week. Post status updates that reflect a good mix of information related to your business specifically (namely any news pertaining to your business, events that are happening, new products or services you are offering, or any deals or specials you are running), as well as information related to your specific industry. Include posts that solicit a response or feedback from your fans, and don’t always use “we” statements (We just launched, we’re offering this promotion, we’re hosting this event, etc.).

When people comment on your page or ask questions, follow up with them. Facebook is a really great platform for B2C interaction, so make sure you respond to posts made on your Facebook page.

Twitter

Twitter has more than 450 million users and is predicted to reach 500 million by March 2012. There are more than 200 million tweets sent each day, and businesses are now using this social platform to instantly engage with followers and others in their industry.

Twitter

If you don’t have a Twitter profile, it’s easy to set one up. When creating your profile, first think of a descriptive handle, or Twitter username. Your business’s name would be a good handle, or if you are a franchise or have several locations for your business, include your city at the end of your handle so people know they’ve found the right business when searching for you. For example, the name “Mike’s Pizza” might be pretty generic for a Twitter name, but using the handle @MikesPizzaChicago could make it easier for people to find you on Twitter.

Once you set up your Twitter handle, make sure people know that you’re on Twitter. Include links to your Twitter profile in your email signature, on your Facebook page, on your website, in your newsletter if you have one, and across any other online platform you might be using. You should also begin following other users that you think might be interested in your business’s products or services; other businesses in the area that you might work with or network with; and employees, customers, or other business contacts you work with on a regular basis.

Once you have your Twitter profile running, you’ll want to make sure you’re tweeting several times a day. First thing in the morning (around 9 am), lunch time, and then early afternoon would be ideal times to distribute your tweets as there tends to be spikes in web traffic during those time periods. Similar to posts on Facebook, you’ll want to craft tweets that are a good mix of information about your business, information about your industry, and tweets that solicit some sort of feedback from your followers. Also make sure that you’re monitoring your mentions on Twitter so you can more easily respond to followers who are asking questions or responding to your tweets.

Google+

Google+ is the newest of the big social networks, but its popularity is growing quickly. There are about 100 million users and it now features business pages in addition to just personal profiles. Anyone with a Gmail address can set up a Google+ profile, and Google recently changed its policy so anyone with a Google account now has to set up a Google+ profile as well.

When setting up your Google+ page, you’ll want to make sure you’re spending time describing your business and the products or services you offer. Also make sure to include photos, links to your website, and links to other social media platforms as well.

Google+ features circles, which are predefined groups that you can add other Google+ members to. Other Google+ members are notified when you add them to your circle, but they are unable to see which circle you place them in or what circles other Google+ members are added to.

Google+ Circles
For business pages, however, you cannot add other Google+ members to your circles unless they add you to their circles first. This makes it even more critical that people are aware of your Google+ profile and add you to their circles.

Once you set up your Google+ profile, you’ll want to begin posting a few times a week, similar to Facebook, but not the same information that you posted on Facebook or Twitter. Using the circles feature, you can also control who sees your message: whether you make it public, share with one circle, or share with a few different circles. For example, if you have locations in two different states, you could create one circle for State 1 and another for State 2. You can then post information that you think State 1 residents might be interested in and vice versa. This offers you more customization in who sees your Google+ posts. If your post is relevant to anyone in your circles, you can show it to all your circles, or make it public so anyone with a Google+ profile can see the post.

Google+ is also starting to become important in business’ search strategy thanks to the new feature Search Plus Your World. In Search Plus Your World, users will begin to see posts and information from Google+ incorporated into search results on Google. For example, if you’re searching for “pizza” in Google, using Search Plus Your World, if you follow a pizza business or if anyone in your Google+ circles posts about pizza, you will likely see those results mixed in with regular search results. The Google+ results you’ll see will only be from people in your circles and from any Google+ posts or profiles that are public, so this makes it even more important to establish a presence on Google+.

While there are more options out there for ways to foster strong B2C connections, these three present the greatest opportunity for interactions and engagement from customers or prospective customers. Incorporating social media into your business’s online marketing strategy will not only create a stronger feeling of engagement with customers, but it will likely have a positive impact on search rankings as well. Representatives from Google have confirmed that social signals do play some role in search engine rankings, though they haven’t gone into further detail of exactly how those signals play a role.

One thing is for sure: Your business will need to start using social media if it hasn’t already done so. Using the tips provided above will help make sure social media is an important part of your marketing strategy.

Incorporating Social Media into Your Small Business Marketing Plan
Amy MoczynskiVisit My Website / View My Other Posts
Amy Moczynski is the marketing associate for 352 Media Group’s small business Web design division, handling all their small business marketing services. You can follow her on Twitter @amymoczynski.


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