5 big brand basics for your small business social media strategy Content Strategy

Facebook may be only 11 years old, but she’s already a teenager in my books. (And don’t even get me started on that scallywag Twitter…) At times, these social media platforms are funny, smart and a downright delight. Much of the time, they are fickle, frustrating, slow to deliver, and act with no rhyme or reason.

It’s far from easy to grow your business on social media these days. Those brands that take off and see huge conversions from social activity are unicorns – they struck the right balance of tone, audience exposure and timing. Either that or they were huge, recognizable brands well before Facebook was born (in ye old 2004), so their brand equity propelled them to loyal social followings – fast. If you’re looking at these big guys and beautiful unicorns and thinking “how do they freaking do it?” then you’re in good company. I’m right there with you, and here are two ways I’ve come up with to stay motivated and stay competitive:

First, there are a lot of case studies of successful social brands – and even more first-person accounts of how they brought their brand to Insta-fame. Read them, read them all.

Second, you’ve got to act big to grow big. Technology and technique is evolving fast, and the rich are only getting richer… You’ll need to master some big brand basics. You’ll only find brand value from social media if you keep your strategy organized, professional and accountable. We may still have a few years before Facebook grows out of the terrible teens, but I have a feeling you’re ready for your new, mature social life.

Look big

The first big brand basic is all about looking good. Branding quality and continuity is must – it’s the first impression you’re giving. Here’s your good looks checklist:
– Use a high pixel quality of your logo, head shots and other company images. No blurry pics!
– Crop and size images properly for each social platform’s specifications. (Here’s a great cheat sheet from Constant Contact)
– Establish an overall design and continuity of imagery across all your social profiles so that visitors can easily identify your brand.
– The same goes for profile messaging – Switch up the style & tone depending on the platform, but keep the message the same: who you are, what you do, why others should follow you (and not necessarily in that order!)
– Image and message quality extends to the posts themselves. Use high-quality pictures with your tweets and posts (Pixabay’s Editor’s Choice selection is a great, free source), and no spelling mistakes please!

Plan big

Now it’s time to prep like the pros. (Hint: they’re not doing everything manually.) Enter, social media management software. Hootsuite is a great place to start, because their free functionality is fairly inclusive. You can sit down for an hour or two and hash out dozens of posts, then upload them all at once and schedule them over the next month. Whatever software you choose, the key to success is that you don’t need to be tied to your computer for your social media to rock on.

You’ll also want a great way to quickly gain followers – yes? Crowdfire has helped me enormously with ramping up follower speed and accuracy.

Software aside, consider treating social like your other content efforts – have a calendar and plan for recurring events. Use a general posting plan – how many updates per day/week will get you to your goals? Stay on top of hashtag trends to capitalize on activity. Share posts by others to create positive give-and-take relationships.

Think big

Don’t be a lemming – social media is a big playing field now. Find the platforms where your target clients are. Ignore the ones where they aren’t active. Bring in mediums that enhance your offerings and give you that big brand/marketing agency feel: Create fun, short videos with Vine, record a weekly podcast, construct an online newsletter with paper.li, live stream events with Periscope, or make memes and branded images with an easy design app like Typic (something I often do for my clients). There’s so much more out there, but don’t worry, you really only need to use the one that works naturally for you.

Reach big

Consider paid advertising to boost your reach and gain more followers – but consider it with careful thought and planning. Getting into the finer details of social advertising will be covered in another post, but start by knowing what you want to action you want people to take when seeing the ad. The main objectives for paying for social exposure include:
– Getting views to a blog post or video.
– Gaining likes or followers for your account.
– Driving traffic to your website.
– Getting downloads of an app or e-book/marketing product.

Set a budget, stick to it and constantly monitor and evaluate results from your ads. Make sure you are reaching audiences that mimic your target client base and ensure that the media and messaging you use for the ad are reflective of your ad objective… And that’s just the bare bones basics. The main thing to remember is – once you find something that works, stick with it until it doesn’t, and then move on.

See the bigger picture

Finally, one of the biggest advantages that big social brands have discovered (at least some of) the answer to, is this question:

Why are you marketing on social media?

Brands become successful on social media because they foster an enthusiastic community that engagingly supports their brand. But that’s only half the battle, as they well know, since you need to get that support to your bottom line.

A social community is made up of customers at various stages in the buying cycle. You can’t connect with everyone all of the time, so having larger goals about how you would like to engage each subset of your customer base will help you find the results you are looking for. In other words, you might want to focus on gaining followers and brand awareness at the beginning (top of funnel). You then could focus on maximizing the amount of likes and shares you get on a blog post (top-to-mid funnel). You might want to have special offers to provide to interested followers that reach out with inquiries (mid-to-bottom of funnel). If you have any questions about this kind of strategy, I’m happy to expand more on the topic.

The big brand picture for your small business’s success with social media is this: Determine exactly what you want (balanced with what you can realistically achieve) by putting in the effort, and continue to test, monitor and adjust strategies until you get there.

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