3 Essential Social Media Strategies for your Small Business - Alex Wain

Thursday, 21 August 2014

We all know that running a small business comes with its own fair share of challenges, from finding and enticing customers, to keeping a close eye on the competition and even staff retention and moral.

Two Sales Assistant At Vegetable Counter Of Farm Shop

You might be surprised to know however, that the world of social media can play a key role in helping you plug the gaps and streamline these areas in your business. Let me show you how, in these 3 simple steps.

Step One: Finding Leads 

First let’s look at how social media can help you find and entice customers. In this example, let’s assume you own a small gym in Sydney and you’re looking to increase your membership. Start by using Twitter’s advanced search tool to discover individuals who are already talking about fitness in your area.
For example, you might choose to search for #sydney #fitness. Doing so will display a list of Twitter users, tweeting about that subject, in that location. You can then reply to them on Twitter, either offering them a discounted membership or link to a part on your site which lists all the types of incentives and reasons to join your gym.
Another way to find potential customers who are passionate about fitness and health, is by following users who also follow influencers in that industry. Let’s use influential health and fitness expert Michelle Bridges She has around 99K followers, there’s a strong chance that many are interested in keeping fit and staying healthy so follow 20-30 of these each day from your account. They won’t all follow you back, but over time if 5-10 return the favour, it’s a simple and effective way to help build up your following. Whenever you tweet, always use 2 hashtags which to the content or topic you’re sharing. This allows your content to be surfaced and seen by a targeted audience who are actively searching those hashtags. An good example might be #relaxation #yoga This next step will require you to spend some money, however, you’ll be able to monitor and measure your campaign every step of the way so you can track how successful it is. Facebook has an immense about of data on the individuals that Like and interact with your Page. There’s two very handy features in their Power Editor tool, they both focus on the same concept - creating a targeted custom audience. The first option allows you to import your email database into Facebook. Lets say you have 5K email addresses that you contact each week with a newsletter. Facebook allows you to upload these into their Power Editor tool and then matches those 5K email addresses with the same ones an individual used to register on the site. You will never get a 100% match, but its very likely that a large proportion of your email database, also use Facebook. Facebook then allows you to target ads, only to that list. So not only are you members getting your newsletter, they’re seeing your Facebook promotions as well. There might be people who have joined your newsletter, but haven’t yet Liked you on Facebook - this simple solution overcomes that problem. The second option, is a little more complex but no less ingenious. Again you upload your email list and from the 5K email addresses you have, lets pretend Facebook matched 4K of them to Facebook profiles. In the example above, you can target those 4K users - but Facebook also allows you to create an entirely new “clone list” to target. It looks at the demographic data of those users, their age, location, gender, interests, updates and activity and then generates a clone list, of entirely different users, people who haven’t liked your page or joined your email address, and gives your he ability to target them with ads. It’s a great way to expand your audience, without using a scatter gun approach. The benefits are two fold, not only are you attracting new Likes and therefore higher engagement, you’re attracting new customers based on the existing demographic of your current audience.

Step Two: Keeping An Eye On The Competition

Now, that we’ve found and engaged your customers, its vital you keep a close on the competition to make sure your customers aren’t enticed to take their money elsewhere. But it can be extremely time consuming keeping up to date with the local competition. Here’s how to make it really easy:
  1. Subscribe to their newsletter. Look at how frequently they email, the type of content they include and the offers they have. Are they more or less active than you? Is the design good? Can you read it on a mobile device? Do the pictures load? What would you do differently?
  2. Create a ‘Private List’ on Twitter. If you follow a large number of people on Twitter, you’ll know that your home stream can become cluttered and noisy. Use Twitter’s List feature to place particular users into clearly defined categories. You don’t even have to follow them to do this. Create a list titled ‘Competitors’, make sure you set it to private (so only you can view) and then add the Twitter feeds of your competition into the list. Once a day login and look at that list, to see the type of content, offers and promotions they are talking about. It saves you having to visit each Twitter profile individually and means you’ll able to get a sense of how they’re using the platform.
  3. Utilise Facebook’s ‘Smart List’ feature  it essentially works the same way as Twitter Lists and means you won’t have to endure seeing competitors content in your personal feed and ensure you won’t miss it either. Simply visit your newly created “Competitor’ list on Facebook to view all the content those pages are posting and sharing.
Once a customer comes to the stand, ask if its ok to shoot a quick video asking them what they thought of the taste. You can then use these on your site and in your newsletter. If you have a sale, special announcement or event you want to promote Every day is an opportunity to create new content.

Step Three: Staff Retention & Moral

Every small business knows that staff retention and moral can have positive effect on their bottom line. If your staff are telling their friends and family what a great work environment you offer, you’re likely to attract and retain better candidates. If staff enjoy working for you, their loyalty is a key asset. They will have a deeper understanding of the business over the longer term, vital knowledge that can be shared with the rest of your team.

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So how can social help your staff feel more included?

Firstly, create a private Facebook Group and encourage staff to share ideas, articles they enjoy or resources that aid your business. This will reduce your emails and keeps everything unified - where everyone has a seat at the table. A good idea can come from anywhere, so the concept behind giving your staff a group, is to open up those lines of communication. If you have an employee of the month award, take it social. Rather than having to create content for a blog, simply ask them questions and share their answers as the blog entry itself. Include a photo and then post this across your social networks - Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. For example “We’re very proud to say Emma Brown is our Employee Of The Month, not only did she sign up 45 new members, she completed the local marathon in record time! But did you know Emma is actually also an amazing photographer? Here’s a few other things you may not know about her….” That level of engagement, not only shows you appreciate your staff, but for customers it creates the sense your a family friendly workplace, with genuine people, with real stories powering your business.

[one_half last="no"] Author Profile:

Alex Wain is one of Australia’s leading bloggers, and co founder of popular culture website So Bad So Good. He is a digital professional with a rich & unique mix of online expertise spanning 11 years across media, digital and entertainment portals and is the presenter of AITs online course Social Media Marketing Fundamentals[/one_half][one_half last="yes"][separator top=15] [imageframe lightbox="no" bordercolor="" bordersize="0px" stylecolor="" align="right" animation_type="0" animation_direction="down" animation_speed="0.1"]alexwain[/imageframe][/one_half]

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