Written By: Riya Sander
If you’re running a small business, you know that it’s that time of year again. When you begin to look back at 2016 to learn how to start developing marketing strategies for 2017. You’re probably taking inventory on what worked and what didn’t but the question remains, how do you create a stronger presence online for your small business?
Days of offline marketing are not long gone, so don’t pack your printed vinyl banners up just yet. But improving social media engagement in the stores and using social media as a marketing tool is vital to any small business. A healthy mixture of offline and online marketing is the key to growth in the coming year. It’s easier than you think. You just need a plan. The following are 5 tips to develop a social media plan in 2017.
Tip 1. Budget for More Resources
This may seem like an obvious one, but if you really want to keep your 2017 marketing budget realistic, with a healthy return on investment, you’ll need to do your homework about where online trends are heading. It’s not enough to just share a few photos on Facebook in your free time. Social media has become a cost-effective channel which deserves a team of its own. How do you approach this in your forecast? Make sure you allot enough resources to focus on upcoming trends which will take a bit more time than you may expect. Real-time engagement is becoming a norm on social media now, so a dedicated resource is vital to making this work for your small business.
Tip 2. Keep Your Brand Message Consistent
2016 marked the year of brand messaging. If you jumped on that bandwagon (which you should have) then you’ll have reaped your just benefits with qualified shoppers from channels like SEO. But keep in mind that a whole year has gone by, resources may have changed, processes have become tighter and your brand message as certainly become more refined. This means it’s time to review your brand mission and maybe even vision. Online customers are becoming more and more discerning when it comes to messaging, so you want to make sure that your entire team is aligned when it comes to the company mission. Once this is settled, solidify company voice as well – after all, that is the backbone of your social media and customer engagement strategy.
Tip 3. Track Your Online Visits & Sales
Your business has most likely seen growth year-on-year if you’ve been implementing competitive social media strategies, but what good is growth if you can’t properly measure it? If your audience is growing, so are your segments and this will affect how you approach your social media strategy. User personas will change. How people interact with your brand may have changed. All of this is pure speculation though if you are not tracking your traffic and conversion with analytics tools such as Google Analytics, Facebook Insights, Hootsuite etc. It’s not good enough to see growth. You need to know why and how your business has grown to make a robust roadmap for 2017.
Tip 4. Embrace How Social Media Has Changed Small Business Communication
Most people think they know how social media works simply because we all use it. This is not necessarily the case for social media for branded small businesses. Users have become sophisticated and can see right through a company with little to no social media strategy. Social sites have become a strong channel rival to the traditional customer service channel. This is a good thing. Each and every complaint is an opportunity to better your business if you see them as direct customer feedback. And if users are willing to complain online, they are just as willing to share their positive stories about your business. But you must interact with them to make this happen. Social media as a marketing tool is now a norm, not an option if your brand wants an online presence.
Tip 5. Have Fun with It!
There’s a reason social media is at everyone’s fingertips – it is fun. If you haven’t tried apps like Boomerang, Snap (formerly known as Snapchat) and Periscope, you might be surprised to find out that they are actually fun to use. Not all of these will work for your small business though. So, play around till you find what’s right for your brand.
About author : Riya Sander is a writer from Australia. She holds a bachelor’s of Business Administration(Marketing). She is delighted to work with aspiring small business owners. This time, she writes for SiteSmart, a site signage advertising company in Gold Coast. Apart from her marketing expertise, she always enjoys reading pocketbook, cooking, and traveling. Follow her on Twitter.