10 Tips to Tame the Social Media Beast

A beast. That’s right. I use the word ‘beast’ to describe social media. More specifically I use it when describing social media marketing for small businesses and authors.
You see after more than 20 years working in various media, marketing and communication roles I finally ventured out on my own. I started my own consultancy.
What I like most is working with small businesses and giving them simple and cost-effective tools and tricks of the trade so they can maximise their marketing potential. This led to my own encounters with the social media beast and inspired this blog post.
Here I will share marketing tips, advice, news and insights to help you. I will also share lessons I have learnt from marketing my own small business.
Lesson number 1: If you view social media as an untameable beast, beyond your understanding, capability and resources, you are not alone.  So take some comfort in the fact that many small businesses probably feel exactly the same.
Now let’s kick that defeatist attitude to the curb and appreciate social media for its many benefits. As a mostly free tool, social media presents a huge marketing opportunity for small business. But first you will need to look beyond what you know about traditional marketing or advertising.
Social media is about making meaningful connections through valuable content. It is not about selling. It is about building the right relationship with people when they are in a ‘social’ headspace, so when they are thinking about ‘buying’ you are top of mind. Here are my tips for social media marketing.
  1. Research the best platforms – Check out what platforms your competitors and customers are using. Choose the platforms most used by your target audience and what fits your brand and industry. Start with a website, Facebook page and consider starting a blog (we will talk more about blogs in future updates). Also consider LinkedIn if you work in a business or industry which relies on networking.
  2. Set up and promote your accounts ­– If you are still not sure what platforms you will need, set up accounts to claim the name now, just in case you need them in the future. Properly fill out your profile for each account and make sure it is consistent across all platforms and media. Once set-up, promote your social media presence on your website, business cards, email signature and other marketing materials.
  3. Less can be more – don’t just sign up for every social media account under the sun. There is no point having several social media accounts if you can’t keep them all up-to-date. Also don’t bother to buy fake followers, likes or fans or try and hit daily quotas. You are trying to grow your business not your social media numbers
  4. Have a plan ­– like any marketing activity, have clear goals in mind. What do you want to achieve through social media? Do you want to increase website traffic? Encourage people to visit your store? Keep your goals in mind and stay focused on them.
  5. Be active and engage – Inactive social media accounts are a waste of time and send a message to your audience that you aren’t really interested in connecting with them. Engage as often as you reasonably can. Talk to your audience. Acknowledge their comments, both good and bad. Ask questions. Be authentic, you are trying to build a connection. People like to connect with people. Also share the love and follow/like/connect with other likeminded people and organisations.
  6. Deliver value – you need to provide content that is relevant and valuable to your target audience. Deliver information to interest, amuse or entertain. Do not spam people or overdo the frequency of content. A small amount of high quality content will rate higher that more frequent content if it is low quality. Don’t just copy and paste the same content across each platform. Tailor the content to your audience and how they engage with each platform.
  7. No hard selling – follow an 80/20 rule for content. 80 per cent of the time, share a mix of other people’s and your own content that has no sales agenda. You should only be asking for a sale or lead about 20 per cent of the time. Even then do not hard sell. Lean more towards promotions that engage or reward your audience.
  8. Use visual elements ­– wherever possible use graphics, illustrations, photos and/or video. It will improve your search engine results. Also add descriptions, captions and comments, which feature relevant keywords.
  9. Follow the rules and etiquette – defamation laws and advertising guidelines still apply to social media. You can be held responsible for your own content as well as what other’s say on your site. Monitor your site regularly and remove any offensive content swiftly. Make yourself aware of each platform’s guidelines for use and follow them. Be respectful of people when they give negative feedback on your sites. Acknowledge negative feedback that is genuine and appear responsive and helpful at all times.
  10. Evaluate your success – use free analytics and other built-in tools such as Facebook Insights, Followerwonk for Twitter and Google Analytics. You can gain valuable profiles of the people engaging with your site and how they are interacting. If people are liking it, viewing it, sharing it or commenting, you also know your social media efforts are working.
As a final word on social media, don’t forget it is always changing. There are always new platforms and tools. However don’t fret about. Try out new features and platforms and have fun. Stick with what works for you and discard what doesn’t.
Now the beast is tamed, I do find myself quite enjoying social media marketing, though I do occasionally pine after the ‘good ole days’ of marketing BTI (before the internet).
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Kylie Fennell
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