This worksheet can help you find the right social media tool(s) to achieve your marketing goals. Just answer each question and at the end you’ll have a roadmap to follow for more effective social media results.
1. What is your primary goal on social media?
The beauty of social media is that it can accomplish a lot of things for your business. It can help you build awareness and make a name for your company. It can help you find people who are ready to shop or dine. And, of course, social media can help you engage with your customers to potentially create deep and lasting bonds.
My primary social media goal is to:
- Acquire new customers
- Bring visitors to my website
- Build customer loyalty
- Create awareness / visibility
- Increase foot traffic to my business
- Provide customer service
- Sell more to current customers
2. What kinds of social media do your customers use?
One of the most important aspects of the tool you choose is that your customers are using it. For example, if you’re addicted to Pinterest but your customers are on Instagram, all your great pins may go unseen. Likewise, if you love to blog but your customers are busily tweeting, your posts may be for naught.
The simplest way to find out which social media your customers use is to ask them – at the cash register, when they pay the check, on the phone, or even through a quick poll on your site. Be sure to ask which site they are most likely to use to find your kind of business – for example, they may spend a lot of time on YouTube, but when it’s time to find a restaurant, they go to Yelp. If you can, ask them if they use different social media for different things – for example they may use Facebook to check out new companies, but prefer Twitter for customer service.
3. How effective is each social media tool at helping you achieve your primary marketing goal?
Here’s a quick overview of the major social media platforms that small businesses use. Your challenge is to determine which of these tool(s) will best help you achieve your primary marketing goal.
A blog can be an effective way to demonstrate your passion and expertise, raise your visibility and bring customers to your website.
Here are the major pros and cons of blogging:
- Visibility. A blog is a good tool for spreading the word about your business. Your position as an authority can attract prospects and build customer relationships.
- Site traffic. Sites with blogs tend to get more visitors than those without because blogs can help a site appear higher in search engine results. Blogs also have the potential to attract a following of people who are interested in what you write.
- Customer loyalty. A blog can be a great tool to provide helpful information to customers about the products or services they buy from you. You can write about delayed shipments, upcoming product enhancements or other topics that help current customers feel informed and supported.
- Customer engagement. On your blog, you control the user experience; you aren’t competing with other ads or posts. As a result, you have the reader’s undivided attention.
- Development effort. A well-executed blog requires a significant commitment, either to write the posts yourself or to solicit other posts and edit them as needed. To appear well-maintained, a blog should be updated at least weekly, and ideally more often.
Facebook provides a good forum for building customer loyalty and for raising your brand visibility. By posting photos and information on your company Facebook page, you can stay close to customers and demonstrate your knowledge and value as a business. With targeted ads, you can also reach out to prospects based on demographics and lure buyers who are enticed by what you post.
Here are the major pros and cons of Facebook for small businesses:
- Visibility. Active posting on Facebook of photos, videos and other content related to your industry demonstrates that you are an authority in your area. Your visitors’ likes and shares can also spread the word about your company organically throughout Facebook. You can contribute to a Facebook group, or start one yourself, to share your passion for a particular topic like vintage clothing or handmade pasta.
- Customer acquisition. You can buy ads on Facebook to target prospects based on their interests, age and other specifications.
- Customer loyalty. Posting industry news, providing helpful advice for getting the most from your product or service, or asking questions about your offerings can demonstrate your customer orientation.
- Experience.Many Facebook users are on the network to socialize with friends and family, and they may not be as receptive to ads there as elsewhere online.
Instagram and Pinterest
We’ve grouped these two platforms together since they are both focused on visuals, whether images, photos or videos. Because these social networks are great for sharing imagery, they are natural homes for photos of your restaurant or store, staff, décor and, of course, the food you prepare or the items you sell.
Here are the major pros and cons of Instagram and Pinterest for small businesses:
- Visibility.Posting or pinning images, photos, videos and other visual content on these sites demonstrates your passion for your business. You can brand your Instagram account with a logo or headshot and link it to your Facebook account to boost engagement on both networks.
- Customer acquisition. You can generate site- or foot-traffic through the awareness you build on these sites. “Rich pins” on Pinterest allow you to show prices and other product information.
- Customer loyalty. The images you share are a great way to demonstrate your company’s personality and creativity. While neither site is the ideal forum for news on delayed shipments, for example, you can develop a bond with customers by sharing great images.
- Experience. Instagram and Pinterest both began with a strong image-sharing ethos – Instagram for applying filters to smartphone pictures and Pinterest for hobbyists. As a result, neither is highly “transactional” in the sense of being able to help you make a sale. However, they are great for defining and evolving the personality of your business.
Location-based services (LBS), such as Foursquare, Google and Yelp, help consumers find “local” businesses like stores and restaurants. They showcase your company when people search for businesses like yours, and they are particularly designed for mobile devices. Because of their popularity, LBSs are an important tool for finding and attracting customers and maintaining a healthy brand profile.
Here are the major pros and cons of LBSs:
- Visibility. Like it or not, your restaurant or retail store is probably already on one or more LBSs with ratings and reviews from your customers. Almost everyone these days uses mobile devices to search for local businesses – and your business needs to have a presence.
- Customer acquisition. LBSs are a terrific tool to bring customers to your door since they can provide a detailed preview of the experience you provide along with hours and directions. They are especially powerful since consumers are generally using them when they are ready to buy. By encouraging customers to post positive reviews, you can get higher rankings in the LBS search results. You can also pay to appear above the unpaid or “organic” search results.
- Customer loyalty. LBSs are really all about finding businesses and not about maintaining relationships. While your customers may occasionally visit your listing to see what others are saying about you, LBSs are not the place to wax poetic about your passions or notify customers about out of stock items, for example.
- Experience.LBSs are directories; by definition your listing is competing with those of similar local businesses. You have limited options to control the experience visitors have with your listing (other than generating five-star reviews through your great service and responding to negative comments).
The 140 character messages – tweets – that your business posts via Twitter can help you attract attention and maintain customer loyalty. When people follow you on Twitter, they provide you with an ongoing opportunity to remind them about the things that make your business great.
Here are the major pros and cons of Twitter for your small business:
- Visibility.Twitter can be good for your visibility if your tweet goes viral or is retweeted or “favorited” many times – especially by someone with a large Twitter following. This is much easier said than done, however. A more reliable strategy is to build a following through regular and interesting tweets; you can also pay to reach prospects who you can select based on their interests, location and other specifications.
- Customer acquisition. Twitter offers paid “lead gen cards” that enable followers to provide you with contact information.
- Customer loyalty. Twitter’s real value may be in developing relationships with customers. Tweeting about your expertise, a new product shipment, delivery delays and other important company updates can help to keep customers informed and feeling positive about your business.
- Experience.Tweets are ephemeral. Even though your tweets appear in your followers’ streams multiple times, they can be easy to miss if your follower isn’t checking in or if they follow a lot of other tweeters.
YouTube has quickly become an important resource for people looking for businesses. Some people rely on YouTube as their exclusive search engine to find the products and services they seek. At the same time, some businesses have seen fantastic results from fun videos involving their staff or diehard fans. With this in mind, consider crafting short videos that showcase your product, service and/or company personality.
Here are the major pros and cons of YouTube for your small business:
- Visibility.YouTube can be a terrific way to build a brand because the site gets so many visitors every day. Popular videos can generate fantastic word of mouth – think Gangnam Style – and as a result great exposure. However, your video faces a lot of competition on the site – so keep it interesting!
- Customer acquisition. Creating videos and posting them to YouTube can help introduce your products and services to prospects likely to buy. Videos can showcase your store or restaurant, communicate your passion for your business (through a cooking demonstration, for example), showcase your personality, and otherwise encourage viewers to become customers.
- Customer loyalty. YouTube can help to engage current customers – for example, you can provide tips for getting the most from the products you sell, including troubleshooting assistance. You can also indicate your commitment to customers by having staff address customer service issues.
- Experience.Although you’re competing with countless other videos, the impact of your video is limited only by your creativity. Images, text and graphics, voiceovers, special effects and music all give you limitless options to create something unique and compelling. And videos stay up permanently; an effective video can generate goodwill for your business for years to come.
4. What resources can you devote to managing social media?
In some small businesses, the founder is the social media manager (in addition to all of her other duties); in others, someone (or even a team of people) is assigned full-time responsibility for maintaining all social media channels, perhaps even with outside assistance. In addition to time, consider your capabilities – for example, could your business more easily produce written pieces such as blog posts or visual pieces suitable for Pinterest or YouTube (which may require special editing tools and skills)?
5. How often do you plan to share news, specials or promotions?
The attitude and information you bring to social media should be a factor in your decision about which platforms to use. You may love writing blog posts, taking photos, or drafting pithy messages. Or you may feel like you never have anything particularly newsworthy to share. There are no hard and fast rules, but your posting frequency may vary by the nature of your business. Twitter, for example, tends to favor frequent posts, such as daily specials or menu updates. You can get away with posting videos to YouTube less frequently. They key factor is how often you can commit to maintaining your social media platform(s); you want to ensure that whichever networks you choose, you keep them active.
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