Social media has evolved into a key marketing channel for small businesses wanting to gain visibility, drive traffic to your website and generate new leads. The next step in your inbound marketing effort is to:
- Identify which social networking sites will work best for your business, and
- Create optimized social media outposts to ensure your brand can be found.
Understanding which social networking sites are right for your business and how to take advantage of them to generate leads is usually a challenge for many small businesses. There are too many social networking sites to choose from to cover them all. It is far better to do a great job on a few relevant platforms than spread yourself too thin across too many.
Determine which social networking sites are the best for your business by choosing those that provide the most direct access to your target audience and the most value for your particular business. In addition, your social media marketing strategy includes not only the where you will engage with your audience but also what you will do to provide value on each social network.
The best way to illustrate successful social media marketing is to use a couple of examples:
- A restaurant may choose a Facebook Page and Twitter as a starting point. The Facebook Page for a local business with a physical address becomes a Facebook Places Page allowing customers to check in and post reviews. The establishment can interact with their customers with fun posts on food, asking questions and getting customers to participate in the discussion. The restaurant may promote daily specials, new entrees or other items of interest to both Facebook fans and Twitter followers. Once Facebook and Twitter gain momentum, the restaurant can now claim its business listing on Yelp, UrbanSpoon, Google Places and other local directories where people may search for restaurants. These sites also make it easy for customers to provide reviews. Finally, once you have a established these outposts, explore adding Gowalla or Foursquare for location based marketing and Groupon or Living Social to offer the occasional deal to attract new clientele.
- Social media marketing for a service business will be one that focuses on providing useful content to build your expert reputation. The blog is the critical social media hub where you provide original content that is of interest to your target audience. Twitter and LinkedIn accounts plus a Facebook Page will help you build related but different networks where you can share useful information, engage in conversations and follow what is happening in your industry more effectively. Depending on your business, a YouTube channel may be a benefit for adding multimedia content. Unlike the interaction the restaurant is trying to get from their customers, the service business is looking to primarily educate and inform, thereby building trust with their followers. Before you start posting, however, review each platform for the unique needs of each of your audiences.
Why create and optimize your social media outposts?
When you create your presence on relevant social networking sites and optimize them for your major keywords, you:
- Increase your business’s web footprint, helping people find you more easily.
- Reach more people with your content, increasing your reputation as an expert.
- Establish a more consistent brand with more visibility, increasing brand recognition.
As part of your inbound marketing strategy, your social media outposts such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn create important communities that encourage conversations and build trust for your brand. This makes your content more visible to your target, more readily found through social search and increases your chances of prospects spreading your content further throughout their own social networks.
Which social media outposts will you be using as part of your inbound marketing strategy?