Social media may be one of the best things that ever happened to startups and small businesses. Mainstream media advertising often requires a budget of several thousand dollars just to create and air a single advertisement. Social media, on the other hand, allows small businesses and start ups to create their own media and advertise their product or service without a great deal of skill or a huge budget. Here are 5 great ways to build an effective social media presence.
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Start with a Strategy
You have to know who your target audience is to know if you are reaching them or not. To fully understand who your best target audience is, however, you have to know who you are. To do this, it’s important to clearly define your company values, what you stand for and the unique nature of your company culture.
Are you a company that allows employees to bring their dogs to work or are you hard-charging go-getters that work 70 hour weeks? Are you devoted to the empowerment of women, protecting animals or the environment or a group of gun-toting hunting enthusiasts?
Asking yourself questions about those things will help you define your culture, which will help you define your brand, which will help you create the most efficient social media strategy. When you know who you are and what you stand for, you will know who is most likely to be drawn to your brand. This will also help you determine which social media channel is the best outlet for you.
Choose the Right Social Networks
Every social media outlet has a slightly different following and some vary greatly. The more spread out you are on various outlets, the thinner your following will be. It’s best to either focus on a niche outlet like Pinterest, Snapchat or LinkedIn or the Big Three: Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
There are services you can use that will post to the Big Three outlets simultaneously, but the most effective content for each is slightly different. When you figure out who your target audience is, you can create content predominantly geared towards one, but still post it on all three.
Create Strong Social Media Profiles
Social media gives you an almost unprecedented ability to share an absolute wealth of information about your company, but only if you use it. Social media pages that only give the barest outline of who a company is and what they do is essentially just a complete waste of space. Remember, people connect with people not businesses and your business is essentially nothing more than a group of people trying to offer a service or product.
When people think of Microsoft, they don’t think of a logo, they think of Bill Gates. Apple is either Steve Jobs or Tim Cook (or Steve Wozniak for the tech nerds). If your business is full of world travelers or outdoor adventurers, let people have a glimpse into your life. Post photos of a spectacular sunset in Milan or a glittering sunrise on top of a mountain peak. If you’re more sedentary folks, post pics of the office dog or cat, or the luxurious early spring blooms blossoming outside your office window.
Fill out your entire profile, and links to your website to your top social media accounts and don’t be afraid to solicit likes and follows. But if you do, make sure you give them plenty of content to like and follow.
Try and mix posts about the people in your company with valuable bits of industry wisdom and insight. If you manufacture snowboards, post regularly about how to choose the right snowboard, new parks that are opening up or any updates to large resorts. If it’s interesting to you, it will probably be interesting to your followers – and you will gain more followers the more valuable information you post.
It’s important to mix up the type of content you post as well. You can share top blog posts from industry insiders, but also create your own series of how-to videos. You can also share top tweets from industry stars and legends, great podcasts you are listening to – or create your own – or have custom infographics created just for you. Websites like Fiverr are a great resource for getting your own custom content on a small budget.
Engage Your Audience, Rather Than Simply Selling to Them
Today’s consumers want to buy products from brands they identify with, even when that product is not necessarily the best on the market. The list is long of companies that actually sell an inferior product to their competitors but seriously outperform them simply based on brilliant branding. But brilliant branding isn’t about hiring a Madison Avenue firm, it’s simply a matter of relentlessly catering to the market segment whose interests and values align most closely with your own.
Social media offers startups an almost unprecedented level of free exposure. You don’t need to hire a legendary social media guru to create effective marketing. Just find the right outlet and consistently share what you are most passionate about. You will most likely find a wide pool of people who are passionate about those very same things, who want to buy products and services from companies whose values align with their own.