As 2015 winds down, many of us feel the need to sit down and come up with some resolutions – ideas and principles that will somehow magically guide us through the upcoming year and make the next 365 days better than the last. Some are health related, some may be financial and a few of you might decide that a career change is in order… but have you ever thought about making a social media resolution?
I’m guessing the answer is no.
I bet if you were forced to make a social media resolution, most of you would think about a platform that is unfamiliar to you with the goal of giving it a shot in 2016… “I’m going to try Twitter next year”, “I’m going to dedicate some time to my Ello account” (yes… Ello is a thing), etc.
How about instead of adding something, you resolve to take something away? Or perhaps you decide to take multiple things away?
If you are looking for a social media resolution for 2016, I’ll help you out – Resolve to trim the fat and make your small business social media presence manageable.
There’s a 99.99% chance that you’re trying to do too much on social media and it’s very likely that your inability to maintain your profiles is hurting your business. You can’t just hope to be the “best of the worst” on Facebook and rely on your competitors to do less than you. Smart companies are cutting the fat and streamlining their efforts. Are you doing the same thing?
The world of social media and online marketing is constantly evolving. New ideas, technologies and strategies are popping up all the time. It’s nearly impossible for small business owners (and marketers in general) to keep up to date on trends. What works right now could be obsolete in a year from now. It’s not just about Facebook and Twitter anymore. We now need to consider content marketing, online listening, analytics and review websites (to name a few) while continuing to manage our business.
Ok.. I Get It… But Where Do I Start?
As my holiday gift to you, I’ve developed a social media fat trimming program. There’s a bit of pain but lots to gain. It doesn’t involve fad diets or ridiculous looking gadgets. It might take a bit of time but it’s worth it on the long run.
Before we begin.. let’s get pumped up…
Step 1 – Identify the Fat
Let’s get the painful stuff out of the way. I know that you’re probably really attached to that Pinterest account you created 2 years ago but if it’s not doing anything for you, let it go. You might be really into Instagram but if your customers aren’t, you’re wasting time. So how do we identify the fat? Here are a few things to look at…
- Do your customers hang out there? – Don’t get involved on a channel if your customers aren’t there. Snapchat is the wrong place to be if you’re trying to target the 45+ crowd.
- Do you know what you’re doing? – I don’t know how many times I’ve talked to business owners that are on a social channel but have no idea how it works. If you aren’t willing to invest some time and learn, don’t waste your time.
- Check your resources – The whole idea of trimming the fat is reducing the stress on your limited marketing resources. Do you have time to make this channel a success? Are there other social media tasks that take precedent over this channel?
My advice – Don’t be afraid to take a really hard look at your channels and trim away. A small business is probably far better off focusing on content creation, online listening, analytics review and a single social media channel than multiple channels with no supporting activity. If you end up cutting all the way back to one social media channel, you might be doing yourself a real favour.
Step 2 – Fire Up The Listening
The idea of social media spans far beyond Facebook and Twitter. As social media channels become more competitive, companies need to throttle up their activities… both on channel and off channel. One of the activities that often gets overlooked is listening. People are always talking online but very few small businesses bother to listen in on what these people are saying.
The technologies available to collect social media data have improved significantly in recent years (they’ve also become much more affordable). The ability to collect and analyze this data is extremely valuable for businesses of all sizes. This data can help drive business decisions, provide additional customer services, measure marketing activities and monitor mentions of your brand.
My advice – Spend a bit of time and find a monitoring program that works for you. Google Alerts is a free tool that should be a staple for most businesses. If you’re looking for a more robust system, try Trackur or NUVI (our platform of choice). Although these programs run in the background, you do need to put aside a bit of time to take a regular look at the results. A bit of bonus advice – if you find that online reviews are something that you need to manage, check out Reputology. It’s a great way to collect and analyze your reviews across a number of sites.
Step 3 – Pump Up Your Content
Content makes the whole online world work. Although most businesses understand the importance of content, very few make content creation a focus. Even though the online landscape is becoming more cluttered and competitive, there will always be a place for quality content. So what’s the deal with content? Why is it so important?
- The gasoline that runs the engine – Content powers social media. It gives you something to advertise. It helps your website be found via search. Your online presence needs to include a content strategy.
- Get found– Before making a purchasing decision (or even the decision to reach out and contact a business), they’ve more than likely done some online research. They probably started their research on a search engine (powered by content), visited websites (populated by content), checked out social media channels (filled with content) and perhaps saw an ad or two along the way (that lead to relevant content). Regardless of the buying cycle stage, content plays an important role in attracting and converting customers.
- Show yourself off – People want to do business with the best. Do you want a plumber with poor skills fixing your leaky faucet or would you rather hire someone with lots of skill? Content is a great way to show off your skills and build a reputation as an industry leader. We’ve already talked about sharing your your knowledge and expertise to help build your personal brand… now it’s up to you to build the required content.
My advice – Invest in content development. If you can’t/don’t want to do it yourself, there are a million freelancers out there. Spend 5 minutes on Kijiji and you’ll have a list of writers, videographers and photographers to choose from. Being the local plumber with the largest social media following is kind of cool. Being the local plumber with the best and most frequently updated blog is way cooler. Trust me.
Step 4 – Actually Pay Attention to Analytics
Business owners are forced to make important decisions every day. Sometimes they have data and insights to guide them, other times they rely on past experience (or a bit of a gut feeling). Imagine if you could turn to data every time you had to make an online marketing decision. That would be pretty handy huh?
There’s a really good chance that you have access to way more data than you know. Your website should have analytics, almost every social media channel has stats and there are a variety of sites that provide additional insights and data. There’s also a really good chance that you’ve never bothered to pay attention to all this readily-available (and free) information.
If you’re not interested in learning more about the effectiveness of your online marketing, that’s fine. If “flying blind” is more your thing, I wish you all the best.
My advice – Take some time to familiarize yourself with the basics of analytics. You don’t need to become a data nerd but even understanding the basics will put you miles ahead of your competition. Figure out the basics… your most popular content, most visited webpages, key search terms and most engaging content.
The End Result
Everyone will have a different end result depending on their available resources, business needs and knowledge. Need a measuring stick? If I had a small business and wanted to create a social media plan based on this 4 step program, it would look something like this…
- Primary (and only) channel of choice – [Insert Channel of Choice]
- Develop social media posting schedule – 4-5 posts per week
- Develop blogging schedule – 2 posts per month
- Review information collected through Google Alerts – 10 minutes per week
- Review Google Analytics, social media analytics – 15 minutes per week
Done. That’s it. No more. It almost looks manageable huh?