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Social media may be the last thing on your mind after a long day of managing employees, interacting with customers, ordering inventory and keeping an eye on your finances. But it’s an important tool that can help you market your business and engage with customers.
“If you engage in social media marketing smartly, it will be the most cost-effective marketing tool you can have,” says Peter LaMotte, chief of digital engagement at Levick, a Washington, D.C.-based strategic communications group.
More than a third of small businesses have increased the amount of time they spend on social media in the last year, according to a 2015 survey of 540 company owners by business directory Manta, which has promotional tools and forums to help companies raise their online profiles. To save time for busy small-business owners, we’ve compiled a list of ways to optimize your social media presence.
1. Set goals
You can’t create a Twitter account and call it a day. You need to set goals so you can measure whether your social media strategy is effective, LaMotte says.
Your goals don’t have to be huge; you can aim to increase your number of followers or engagement with customers, or to get a few sales leads directly through social media. Remember, LaMotte says, social media is just a tool; it’s not your entire marketing strategy.
2. Focus your efforts
Choose one social media platform, whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram or Youtube, and master it. Don’t pick your platform arbitrarily, however; you want to be where your customers are. For example, LaMotte recommends restaurants have a strong presence on Yelp, while professional organizations and business-to-business firms should focus on LinkedIn. Although Facebook is a popular platform, LaMotte warns against selling your business too strongly on it.
“People prefer not to be sold to on Facebook,” he says.
Additionally, small-business expert Melinda Emerson suggests using targeted keywords to strategically choose which social media platform to focus on. Use tools such as Google AdWords Keyword Planner or Wordtracker to pinpoint the keywords that drive people to your website, and find the social media platforms where people are talking about those keywords most, she says.
3. Have a good website
Your social media accounts don’t exist in a bubble. They’ll draw users to your website if you use them effectively, so it’s important to have a website that reflects your brand and is updated with your most current products and services.
Your website is “the welcome mat to your whole business,” Emerson says.