Many small business owners are reluctant to enter the social media arena because while it is presents a wealth of online branding opportunities, it can be a bit overwhelming – not to mention time-consuming. However, the key to successfully navigating the social media landscape is to develop a strategy for your marketing efforts.
Below, I’ve outlined a 3-step guide that will help you get the most out of your social media campaign, and show you how to effectively market your business on social networks in less than 30 minutes a day.
Define your goals for communication.
Before your start twittering or updating your Facebook status, assess what you hope to achieve. You can start by examining your motives for engaging in conversation with your audience. Maybe it’s to increase brand awareness. Or perhaps, it’s to generate more Web site traffic. Regardless of your objective, ask yourself: “What action do I want my target audience to take?” Having distinctive goals will give you direction and provide the framework for your overall social media strategy.
Whether you’re looking to introduce a new product or service, boost sales, or expand into a new market, the nature of your social media campaign will depend upon your particular goal. For example, if you want to build brand awareness for your new yoga studio, you might leverage social video communities such as Youtube or Daily Motion, whereas if you were trying to increase your search engine rankings, you might launch a link-building campaign through Digg.
Assess your target audience and which social networks will be utilized.
To determine the best way to connect with your audience, consider the following questions: What type of person is most likely to purchase your product or service? What social tools or online communities do they utilize? Then decide what social media networks will be used as your marketing medium. For instance, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Youtube, Ning or Digg.
Evaluate your time commitment and develop a social media content calendar.
Estimate how much time you will dedicate to maintaining your online presence, and block out time in your schedule. Ideally, you should be spending no more than 15-20 minutes a day. Once you’ve established your time commitment, it’s time to start thinking about what type of content you will be providing.
Enhancing the effectiveness of your social media campaign is all about providing valuable information to your audience, and one of the best ways to keep a steady stream of fresh content is to post links to interesting articles or sites. Facebook has an excellent feature called the Share on Facebook bookmarklet, which enables you to post stories you come across directly from your Internet browser – without even having to sign into your account.
Tools like TweetLater on Twitter allow you to schedule your social media content. You can dedicate 25-30 minutes a week to writing helpful tips to include in your posts or around 5 minutes a day to pre-planning your content. Another great tool that can help you maximize your time is Ping.fm. It enables you to update your status on multiple social networking sites simultaneously, without you having to actually visit them.
Social media marketing is one of the most cost-efficient and effective ways to promote your business, especially for small business owners. In my next post, I’ll delve more into time-saving strategies for branding yourself online.
Tasha Bovain is a freelance copywriter and consultant specializing in online branding and marketing communications for women entrepreneurs. If you’d like more tips on building your online presence, visit her blog New Media Socialite