Along with securing small business insurance, developing a social media marketing plan should be an integral part of running your small business, but many small business owners don’t know where to start in order to exploit this powerful method for gaining customers. Follow these steps to develop your own social media marketing plan.
1. Identify your target customer
Take a look at your existing customers and determine what they have in common. Figure out who your ideal customer is, in terms of age, gender, income level, interests, etc. This is called a ‘buyer persona,’ or a description of your ideal customer. Remember that you can have more than one buyer persona, so identify as many as you can.
For example, if your product is a skin cream that reduces wrinkles and other signs of aging in women, your primary buyer persona may be a woman, aged 35 or over, with a household income over $100,000 who is interested in beauty, fashion, health and fitness. A secondary buyer persona might be men aged 45 or over with similar incomes, who might buy your product as a gift.
2. Determine what problem you can solve for your ideal customer
People buy because they have a problem that they want to solve. By addressing your prospects’ problems, or ‘pain points,’ you turn those prospects into customers.
In our skin cream example, the problem that the primary buyer persona has is looking older than she wants to. She wants a way to appear more youthful. The secondary buyer persona needs a gift for the woman in his life.
3. Develop the key messages you want to get across to your potential customers
This is your value proposition. This tells your prospects why your product is the best solution to their problem.
Remember that prospects with different problems will respond to different messages. For the primary buyer persona for our skin cream, the message might be that our product makes skin look younger. For the secondary persona, the message might be that our product pampers skin and feels luxurious, and that a woman would appreciate a gift that would spoil her.
4. Identify the social media networks that your buyer personas use most
The demographics associated with each network will help. If you don’t know which networks to target, ask some of your existing customers who fit the persona which networks they use most.
For our primary buyer persona, the most popular social networks may be Facebook and Pinterest. If your demographic is younger, you may be looking at Tumblr and Snapchat. If your product is more visual, Instagram may enter into the mix. Business to business products and services might find that LinkedIn is the primary network for their target customer.
5. Coordinate your efforts between your website and social media
All of your posts should drive traffic to your website, where people can order your product or service or contact you. Including a blog on your website can help with this, because your posts can point followers to your blog.
For our skin cream, we might write a blog post about how sun exposure is bad for skin, and how many people don’t think about the UV rays they are exposed to during the winter. We could cite examples of the negative impacts of sun exposure, and talk about how our product contains sun protection that works year round. A tweet might say, “Is the winter sun aging your skin?” followed by a link to the blog post.
6. Change up your content
Include videos, podcasts, and surveys to help your customers interact with you and share your content. The power of social media lies in the ability for your followers to share your content with their followers, and so on.
Before and after videos could be used to show how effective our skin cream is. We could tweet, ‘See for yourself how your skin can look years younger,’ and include a link to a YouTube video that shows the results.
7. Don’t forget to ask people to follow you
Every message you send out to prospects or customers should include the icons of all of the social media platforms you are on, which should link to your accounts so people can follow you. Each interaction should include a call to action. This may be a request to purchase your product, but it could also be an invitation to connect on social media.
On the home page of the website for our skin cream, we’ll have buttons for Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, Google+ and Instagram, which link to our accounts. Above the buttons will be an invitation to ‘Connect with us on…’
8. Measure your results
There are a number of apps available that will measure your reach on social media, indicating how many new followers, likes, shares, retweets, etc. you get each week. This will help you determine which of the networks you use are the most successful.
We might assume that Facebook will be the primary social media network for our skin cream product, but the analytics may show that our activity on Twitter actually produces the most sales. With this knowledge, we can increase our activity on Twitter to capture even more customers.
Social media for small business may seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. Start small, but start. And use these tips to keep you on track.