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Top tips for SMEs starting out with social media

April 26, 2012

We’ve all heard it: You just have to be using social media marketing. In my conversations with small businesses, I’ve heard over and over that they are indeed keen to try it out. The problem is figuring out where to begin.  Following are ten simple tips that I hope will help any business starting out with social media, regardless of budget.

1 – Planning

Set goals that you can measure.  Before you even start posting, decide on two or three ‘Key Performance Indicators’ (KPIs).  Ask yourself what you actually want to get out of your campaign. Sales leads? Website traffic? Providing fantastic customer service? Something else? Once you’ve answered that question, the performance indicators will be easy. Please don’t just aim to get 200 followers or 100 fans.  Milestone numbers are nice but essentially pointless, in and of themselves.  For instance, tf you only sell locally, having 5 followers from your region who are likely to become customers is obviously worth a lot more to you than 1,000 fans from Timbuktu who will never engage with your business.

2 – Use your customers to create an initial fan base

This one seems like a no brainer but a lot of people forget it.  Tell your current customers that you’re on Twitter or Facebook – you’ll be amazed how many will join you. It’s also a good chance to ask your customers what they would like to see on your social channels – it could be news from your sector or tips on how to bake cupcakes.  People really appreciate feeling involved in the process and are much more likely to engage.

3 – Develop engaging content

You’re an expert. You know your industry inside out. Use that knowledge – provide your followers with tips, updates, latest product news or exclusive deals.  Think about what you talk to customers about when you engage with them in real life.  Other good ideas are inspirational quotes, ‘fill in the blanks’ and polls.

It’s important to remember that not every post is a sales pitch. Try and use the ratio of ten pieces of non-sales content to one piece of sales content. You can turn people off quickly by selling too much.

4 – Ask your fans to retweet (RT) or share

Don’t do this on every post or tweet, but every now and then don’t be afraid be to encourage your followers to share your content:

For example: ‘Two for one pasties from the Moorish Cornish this Saturday. Please RT and bring the family down! See you there.’

5 – Plan ahead

You can spend forever thinking of content but realistically, you probably don’t have time for that. The good news is that you can run a successful campaign with just an hour or two a week. The trick is scheduling – there are plenty of free tools for this, like MarketMeSuite, which allow you to put in content ahead of time. You can still post on an ad hoc basis but this technique will save you a lot of time.

6 – Think about cross promotion

You’ve got a range of communication tools available, so use them!  An email marketing campaign always works best when supported by social media and vice-versa. Think about it like this – email marketing can start the fire and social media fans the flames. Encourage your mailing list to visit your social channels and let your followers know what they can get from signing up to your emails.

7 – Say thank you

Just like your mother told you – ‘common courtesy goes a long way.’ The same is true on social. If someone retweets you, follows you or advocates your business – say thanks.  Simple politeness is definitely a best practice.

8 – Offer something exclusive

Let your followers and fans in on something they wouldn’t be able to get elsewhere.  Getting something exclusive will make them feel it’s worth checking in on your feed. It will also make them more likely to tell their friends about you.

For example: ‘Thanks to all pastry fans on Twitter. Come in to Moorish Cornish Pasties with the Twitter code (to be announced Sat) & we’ll give you 2-4-1.’

9 – Measure

Review and analyse your results – free tools like NutshellMail are brilliant for this.  Follow what content is creating the most engagement by seeing how many retweets or click-throughs each post gets.  Use this to tailor your posts to ensure they keep producing results.

10 – Relax and enjoy

Social is all about being real and transparent – it’s your opportunity to show off the personality of you and your business. Have fun and enjoy the opportunity to engage with customers.

Further Information

This article was provided by Annette Iafrate, UK managing director of Constant Contact

Let us know how you get on at @ctctuk or https://www.facebook.com/ConstantContactUK