Thursday, January 5, 2012

How To Find Time For Social Media Marketing

When it comes to social media marketing just about everyone agrees it is an effective tool. The dispute arises when a company tries to integrate social media marketing and needs to account for the additional hours they invest in those efforts.

For small businesses, even a small increase in expenses can be too much, for too little. There are few guarantees in life and this also goes for social media, especially when it is being used internally by people who don't know how to get the best possible return for their efforts.

If you have a small business and wonder how you could possibly manage an effective social media marketing campaign, I have a few simple suggestions for you:

1. Start with just the big three social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. These three social media services reach more than one billion around the world, giving you the largest possible potential audience. Plus, if you focus only on three social media services you stand a much better chance of creating a social media marketing plan which is sustainable using existing company resources.

2. Be certain every employee, or at least the principle employees (owners, managers, supervisors, customer service representatives) have a profile on LinkedIn. You can join groups in your particular industry if you'd like and even contribute to discussions occasionally. Because this work is done by the individuals themselves there is no need to delegate this work to any one employee.

3. Create a Facebook Fan Page for your business and populate it with photos of employees or products; post status updates which are relevant to the people you are trying to reach. Promote your Facebook Page to your existing customers and encourage them to connect with you there. Be certain you don't turn your Page into a wholly self-promotional tool. Social media marketing is relationship marketing. Building relationships is all about sharing information the other person is interested in. You will need to plan on at least one Facebook status update each day, but these can be done by anyone in the company with something interesting to share. You can have multiple administrators of your Facebook Page so the work can be spread around to more than one person. This decentralized approach means you are not at the mercy of a single employee making updates. Also, customers and clients may want to communicate with your company through your Facebook Page so be certain your team is checking the comments and responding appropriately.

4. Twitter is like a mega-phone for global communications, but it doesn't mean you should stand there and shout the same message over and over again. Post Tweets which are relevant to your industry in order to attract people to your feed. You can also create a Twitter Business Page, but this is not needed to get the full effect of Twitter. Much as you can with your Facebook Page you can use your Twitter feed to promote new products; follow industry trends; employee accomplishments or news of interest to the people you hope to reach. This is also a two-way communication tool for customers and clients so be certain someone is monitoring the messages portion and responding accordingly.

5. Use a scheduling tool like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite to make scheduling posts to Twitter and Facebook simpler and more effective. If an employee spends a few hours at the beginning of the week scheduling your updates, the rest of the week can be spent monitoring your feeds and responding to comments. If something interesting pops-up it can always be posted manually, but the bulk of your posting should be done in advance via a scheduling tool.

These are just a few simple ways your small business can make good use of social media marketing without breaking the bank. Of course, much more effective results can be had by hiring a professional social media manager, but not everyone has the budget for that. So, try these five things and see how that works for you. Who knows, business might increase enough to make hiring a professional social media manager possible.

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