Around 2.8 billion people use social media. If you have a small business, creating a website as a marketing tool, along with social media sharing, is an easy and cost-effective option to generate more leads. It also enables your customers on these platforms to connect with you and act as brand ambassadors. After defining your target market, you should find out which social media channels they use frequent and compile a content strategy around it. You do not have to be on every platform, but you cannot post one message the same way on every platform.

Here are the steps you need to take to benefit your business using social media.

1. Set Goals and Deadlines

This should be your first priority. Goal-setting will help you set specific, measurable objectives to complete within a specific timeframe. What do you want to achieve via social media? Increase brand awareness, drive sales, or establish authority in your niche?

Make sure it is a definite target. “I want to gain at least 1000 likes on my business’s Facebook page” sounds better than “I want more people to be aware of my Instagram account”. These goals should test your marketing abilities while remaining realistic and attainable.

2. Define Your Social Media Demographic Profile

This is your target market, but for social media. It is not wise to cast a wide net over all platforms and hoping for the best. Each platform has its own personality and friends (social media users) that hang out with them. If you try to enter this circle with professionalism and a business-like voice while they laugh, joke around and take laidback selfies, you will be cast out before you can say “please follow me”.

Be as specific as you can with the demographic profile of your ideal clients, both current and future. These can include age, gender, relationship status, country of origin, income bracket, ethnic background, profession, recreational activities, etc.

3. Define Your Brand’s Voice

Are you humorous or more on the serious side? Professional or emotional? Realistic or idealistic? Knowing what kind of voice your brand has will aid you in connecting with your audience. Try to imagine what they would like to hear from you – some brands even ask their audience for feedback directly.

Use the same language and vocabulary that your readers use so it sounds like it is coming from a person with a bloodstream rather than a computer generated robot. Also, refrain from using slang unless it is relevant to your brand. Studies have shown that about 38% of people will unfollow a brand if they use slang or jargon that seems out of place.

No matter what niche you are in or what products and services you sell, you are still communicating with real people who like brands that treat them for what they are – human beings.

4. Select Your Social Media Platforms

This can be overwhelming at first if you are not familiar with all of the major social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and Google+, to name just a few. Every business has their own unique audience and they may not pan across all channels. So do not be tempted to create a business page on every single one that you ever heard of.

While it is true that using more channels means you will receive more engagement with your brand, it will create a negative impression if you end up not using particular platforms down the line. It is best to only utilize those that will provide the most opportunity for your business. It will also be more beneficial for your time management and state of mind. The last thing you need while working on your business is worrying about 20 different platforms not performing.

Know your target audience and what their needs are, compare it with your social media demographics, and you will know where to add your social footprint. If you still feel stuck, do some research on your competitors and see which channels they are using. You are fighting for the same audience after all. Make notes of what type of content they are sharing and how much engagement they get for their posts. What makes their brand voice different from yours? You do not necessarily have to copy them, but perhaps you can draw some inspiration from their pages.

5. Ensure Consistency Across Your Social Media Profiles

Once you have created your chosen social media pages, make sure that they are consistent all over, with particular emphasis on:

  • Your business’s name
  • Profile and header photos
  • Company bio
  • Contact details
  • Other links (like a website)

6. Create a Content Marketing Strategy for Each Platform

Content strategy is the process of planning what you want to do before you start. You cannot just post anything you want – they need to be thought out carefully. This strategy, along with some analyses of your platforms, will also help you understand why your marketing is working, or not. What works on one social media channel, does not always work on the other. That is why cross-posting is never a good idea; even if you use the same message, it has to be tweaked for each platform.

Content plans for social media posts can provide gift ideas, upcoming promotions, and special occasions for specific groups relevant to your business, or relevant information. A few key aspects need to be considered to have a well-planned purpose for your content:

  • Who is your target market?
  • What problems do they have that you can solve?
  • How can you make your posts unique?
  • On what platforms will you post?
  • How will you schedule and manage content creation and publication?

Download a free template here from CoSchedule.

7. Use a Social Media Calendar

A social media calendar enables you to plan your posts ahead and saves you time, rather than randomly posting nonsense for the sake of posting. It also keeps you accountable for deadlines you set for yourself. Not sure how to create one? Try this one from HubSpot to start out with. It is colour coded, easy to navigate through and editable.

Depending on the social media platforms you are using, it is important to find an effective posting frequency for each one. Being quiet on one of your platforms could result in about 17% of your audience to unfollow you. However, posting too much, and you can lose about double the number of followers.

Some networks, like Twitter, require content to be posted more frequently than others. However, always focus on quality rather than quantity. Make sure every post links to a broader goal of your content strategy. CoSchedule has a free social media posting schedule template you can use as a guideline.

8. Create a Healthy Mix of Content

Many businesses make the mistake of posting promotional updates on their social media accounts. The truth is, the moment your audience feels like you care more about your products than about them, around 45% of them will unfollow your brand. Keep your posts interesting by mixing it up a bit with information, company culture, photos of you, branded content, industry news relevant to your brand, and even job postings.

Important to note: research hashtags before using them. We repeat, research hashtags before using them. Just because some hashtags are trending, does not mean it will be applicable to your message. For all you know, your initially innocent post could include a hashtag linked to sensitive trending Tweets. Your business will suffer receive a backlash if you do not check what they mean before you use it in your own messages.

9. Automate Where You Can

Why do everything manually when it can be automated? Some programmes, like Hootsuite, exist to make your life easier this way. You create the social media messages on one or more platforms, add the images you want, set the time you want it to be posted, and voila! Another awesome addition to some of these programmes are the statistics that come with it, ideal for analysing. Now you only need AdSpirine to “automate” the content for you.

10. Create a Social Media Disaster Plan

Social media is a powerful marketing tool, and equally as powerful a destructor. While most businesses struggle to get good reviews, people will not think twice to write a bad review on your profile. It is better to create a disaster plan while you can still think clearly about it than suffer from panic paralysis.

Follow these steps when creating your plan:

  • Prepare standard responses to common issues.
  • Draft template apologies that sound genuine for prompt responses.
  • Handle negativity with empathy.
  • Ignore the trolls.

Social networks enable you to be responsive and have conversations with your audience and potential (and current) clients. Pay attention to what they are saying and optimize your content accordingly. Advertise your business’s personality, but avoid controversial topics and make sure there is value behind everything you post. And before you know it, you will be a trendsetter worthy of following.


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