9 Tips for Improving Your Local Business Social Media Game
In a competitive marketplace of both big and small players, getting started with social media can feel like a long and complicated process. However, when your business doesn’t have a big marketing budget to play with, social media can be one of the best tools in your marketing arsenal.
As a social media manager who is also an avid gamer, I’ve oftentimes compared building a social media profile to creating a character in a game. So, whether you’ve started to play the social media game or haven’t even created a single profile yet, here’s a step-by-step plan to put you on the path to social media success.
While you might want to jump in and be on every social media channel possible for maximum exposure, spreading yourself too thin with no plan of attack can exhaust your resources, fast. Whatever business you’re in – from dentistry to auto-repair – you need to assess your situation and identify the goals you’d like to achieve via social media. Here’s how to get started:
Blueprint: Call this a map, strategy, or plan-of-attack, but whatever you call it, you need one – and you need to stick to it. Having a social media blueprint that includes your budget, bandwidth, and goals will help you navigate the road ahead.
Research: Before you start building your social media profiles, do some research on your target audience and your competition. Find out what social media channels your potential customers are on so that you don’t waste time building and managing profiles on channels they don’t use. Then check out where and what your competitors are posting. Lastly, take the time to learn about the features and functionality of each channel. They are not all created equal! What works on Twitter may not work well on LinkedIn, for example.
Arsenal: Now, it’s time to go through your content (blogs, photos, videos, customer testimonials, etc.) and choose which pieces you want to share first. If you don’t have a lot of original content, curating relevant content from your industry or from your customers can get you started. It’s also a good idea to create a content library and a content calendar so you know what content you have as well as when you’re posting it. There are many free tools out there to help you create these – and make scheduling easy-peasy.
After you’ve decided what social media channels to be on – as you begin your quest to becoming the best social media squire yet – there are a few more things you can do to level-up your game:
Team Leader: Customers want value, whether in the form of tangible products or useful information. Don’t simply connect with customers on social media to sell to them. Be a thought leader or a resource for them, so they come back to your profiles to learn.
Team: To succeed in any game, having a team to back you up is invaluable. Think of your followers as your “team” and leverage as much content from them as you can. Reviews and photos from customers will help you build trust and credibility and save you time (because it’s already created). Reviews from your YP for Business listing are a good place to start.
Community: As a local business, the people in your community will always be your biggest fans. So, make sure you’re focused on building awareness within your local community. Connect with others on social media, participate in online events, and use hashtags from other businesses in your local community or related to your industry.
While the journey to getting to the top of the leaderboard on social media is long and challenging, there are a few things you can do to successfully get to the endgame:
Help: Don’t be afraid, it’s okay to ask for help. As I mentioned above, you need a team to succeed, but a team doesn’t just appear out of thin air. You need to build your team. Invite your customers to follow you on social media and don’t be afraid to ask for reviews.
Time: Things worth doing take time. Whether you’re starting up a business, constructing a building, or becoming a pro-gamer, there are no short-cuts. Succeeding on social media is no different. Don’t give up on social media early, leaving a “graveyard” of old posts behind; it sends a negative message to customers who find the “corpse” of your old Twitter account.
Pay-to-Play: If you play video games, you might have heard of the term “pay-to-win,” which is a business model where players can gain a huge advantage by paying real money for special items in-game, such as armor or weapons. While still a valuable “free” marketing resource for many brands and businesses, this “pay-to-play” model has quickly started to creep into social media as well. Sponsored ads and other forms of paid advertising have become a powerful and, unfortunately, necessary way to reach and engage customers, especially given recent algorithm changes to many social media platforms. With marketing, you have to spend money to make money. Fortunately, on social media, a little money can go a long way.
Social media can be a useful marketing tool, but it should never be the only tool in your toolbox – or weapon in your arsenal. Strive to build an integrated marketing strategy for your local business, where social media can be a team player within your overall marketing mix. And lastly, remember this: it’s called social media for a reason. So, by all means, be social! Tell your story and share your personality with your fans. See you in game – @ypforbusiness.