It’s never to late to get started with a social media strategy that puts your small business on the world stage. Whether you are just starting out or need to improve your performance on social media, this guide will give you suggestions on best practices, strategies, tactics and success stories with valuable lessons on what has worked. Creativity rules in the world of social media, so try something new but do your homework first and learn from the mistakes of others.

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Researching your entrance strategy
The more information you have the better – up to a certain point. One of the problems small businesses face is that a great deal of information online about social media networks is out of date. As of December 2014, the top five most popular social networks were Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+ and Tumblr. By the time you read this, that list could be in a different order or include entirely new networks. The point is you will need to define who your business appeals to, which social media channels these users prefer. Only after fleshing out a buyer persona and looking over promotions that have done well on each channel can you develop a core message for your own business that will appeal to them. Make sure the examples you are reviewing are extremely current, within the last year at the latest.

Choosing your channels
Your blog is the first and most important component of social media strategy. Every other effort you make across networks should lead readers back to your blog and website. Write or curate enough blogs to have a regular and predictable schedule before you start adding other networks. Initially focus on one or two networks where there is the highest number of mentions for problems that your business can solve. Set aside time for promoting the business through these channels every day, even if you can only spare an hour. Assign three fourths of your time to listening to your customers and commenting on their concerns. Spend the other quarter of your time creating or curating content to share. Different channels attract different audiences and the focus should be on maximising exposure to your target group. Ted Rubin is a social media strategist and former chief social marketing officer (CSMO) for Collective Bias. He’s created a video with tips for small businesses on building an engaged social audience across the major networks.

Helpful tools

1. Buffer – You can’t be online all the time. Even if you were, you need find a way to measure audience engagement. Buffer allows you to collect your content as it’s created and schedule when it will appear on your social medial profiles. You can then use its analytics to see which posts were the most popular and where they got shared. That will help you find the best times and topics for the future.
2. Feedly – No one likes someone who only talks about himself or herself. The same is true for social media profiles. Social media is all about building a network of friends and business connections. One of the central ways to do that is to promote them and things of interest to them. Feedly searches blogs, Tumblr, YouTube and news to come up with fascinating stories that you will want to share.

For more ideas, Panorama has created a list of 50 social media tools for monitoring, responding to and analysing messages on social media. Just reviewing the list will give you ideas on what you need to focus on next.

Recent changes in advertising on Facebook and Twitter have made it easier for small businesses to compete for attention.
It’s important to keep current on advertising policies for social networks, because they are changing rapidly. Companies that can adapt to these changes rapidly will have a significant advantage over their larger competitors. Take a look at this guide on social media advertising, promoted posts, and sponsored messages in 2014.

Analyse, adjust, repeat
Targeting the right customers for your unique business will take time and experimentation. Stay in contact with your ideal audience and track which channels perform best with specific content. Look for new opportunities like in-store video and internet-enabled devices. Pinterest used to be primarily a visual site for lovers of fashion and crafts, but just in the past year or so it has become more of an e-commerce site for big business. Facebook used to be full of ads and promotions, but recent rule changes favour content marketing and video. Businesses that survive and thrive on social media are those that constantly seek analysis data and try new strategies to strengthen their connection with fans and followers. Just as the lean startup model calls for continuous improvement, small businesses on social media can benefit from implementing a similar cycle of analysing popular social campaigns, adjusting their strategy to appeal to specific segments, and repeating the process to refine your strategy. Before long, other small businesses will be coming to you for advice.

Amelie Anne

Project & Hiring coordinator Amelie Anne ensures clients demands and needs are met. You’ll find her running workshops, arranging client-facing meetings and working harder under the hood of our leading eCommerce platform.

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