5 Steps to Simplify Social Media Management for Small Businesses


social-mediaWith the boom of the Internet, small businesses were suddenly tasked with creating and maintaining an online presence – no matter how long they had been around. There were also new businesses, blogs, and entrepreneurs popping up in the “strictly online” realm. Since then, great leaps have been made on the web, and social media has taken the entire world by storm. This has left large brands and small businesses alike scrambling to make themselves heard in their niche.

Small businesses and entrepreneurs, unfortunately, are at a disadvantage in this race. While large companies can contribute hundreds of man hours and thousands of dollars to their social media campaigns, small businesses are often left with do-it-yourself options on a tight budget. While it’s no secret that social media is imperative, it is often hard to figure out how to utilize it effectively when you are short on both time and cash. Following these five steps will lead you through the confusion and on to a phenomenal social presence quickly and with no money spent.

Step 1: Choose Your Social Platforms Wisely

Consider this: a real estate agent wouldn’t go to the local knitter’s club to network. Under the same logic, you need to maximize your effort by networking where your market is. There are polls and studies published and freely available online that describe the average demographics of the most popular social media sites. Compare this data to the demographics of your target market, and you should be able to choose 2-3 social platforms for your business.

While there isn’t much harm in experimenting with different social platforms, this should be done when your business has more time and resources to devote to “trial and error.” Until you get to this point, get the most out of your investments by starting where you know your market is.

Step 2: Use a Social Management Tool

Once you have decided which platforms you want to use, sign up for a social management tool that integrates all of your platforms onto one dashboard. Sites like Hootsuite and SproutSocial support most of the top social platforms, and allow you to see all activity across all of your profiles on one dashboard. You can read/send direct messages, post or schedule updates, and even track analytics. It will save you a lot of time and show you exactly what is working well for your business and what is not.

Step 3: Spend 20 Minutes a Day Engaging With Your Networks

Now you have a few social profiles set up, and a tool to manage them all, so it is time to start engaging and growing your audience. The best ways to do this are to be human online. You may be representing a business, but people connect to people. You will want to post updates that are both promotional and non-promotional (mostly non-promotional.) Also, follow people and/or other companies that you find interesting and may be in your target audience. If they find your profile and content interesting, they will follow back and maybe even invite their friends.

Step 4: Talk WITH Your Networks, Not at Them

Okay, so you have a presence online, a great management tool, and you’ve begun to attract a following with your content. Now what? Well, now the real magic of social media begins. It’s not just about pushing yourself out there and trying to sell, sell, sell. Social media is about creating connections and turning potential customers into loyal brand advocates.

To do that, you need to talk with your network, not at it. Just like any healthy relationship, you will need to show that you care about the other person as much as you do about yourself. Like and share statuses, ask questions and follow up with the answers, and respond to questions and comments in a timely manner. Show your followers you aren’t just interested in inflated numbers on your profile, you are here to form true bonds.

Step 5: Tighten and Prune Your Networks Regularly

It shouldn’t be long after steps 1-4 that you start to see a rise in followers and increase in business. But in order to cultivate that tight community of people who love you, you will need to do some reviewing and pruning every once in a while.

Email marketers are well aware of the power of removing “inactive” people from your list. The same is true for your social profiles. At least twice a year, take some time to remove followers who are obviously spammers or completely inactive, and review your content strategy to keep talking directly to the core of your target audience. This will ensure you always stay on-brand and on top of your social media.

There are many other options and ideas that can help you curate content for your social campaigns, manage your growth, and track your success, but as you start out, it is imperative to keep things simple. These five steps can get you up and running quickly with zero dollars out of your pocket and as little as 20 minutes per day.

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