As digital media overlaps with advertising, more small business owners are paying attention to social media and their overall web presence. At Philly Tech Week 2017, Buffer marketing and social media manager Brian Peters hosted a sold out interactive workshop, Developing a Social Media Strategy as a Team of One. This presentation focused on how small businesses can develop effective social media content without having a huge budget or department.
Amidst a room full of social media managers for different types of businesses, Peters outlined a series of seven steps to creating a strategy plan.
Step 1: Create an outline
When drafting your company's social media plan, turn to your mission and value statements. These will help you determine the tone and personality of your social media presence. For instance, will you be using popular hashtags, even if they're not directly relevant to your brand? What about GIFs? How do you feel about swearing?
Additionally, understanding your mission can guide you to create a series of goals, which can include driving traffic to your website and generating leads. Remember to think of specific numbers when outlining your goals, such as a certain number of leads you'd like to generate.
Step 2: Pick the right sidekicks
There are tons of tools and software out there to help you create and manage content. In addition to Buffer, Peters identified Canva for graphics, Trello for project management, IFTTT for automation, Google Drive for data storage and Slack for team collaboration.
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Step 3: Practice the art of creation
Tools like Canva help you create your own graphics where you can add text. Since photos and videos perform better overall on most social networks compared to all-text statuses, more companies are using budgeting for visual content this year, according to HubSpot. If you're willing to go the extra mile, you can even enroll in online photography or design classes on websites like Skillshare, Lynda and Udemy.
For inspiration, Peters recommended making a list of all the brands you admire and then trying to replicate something they've created. He also stressed the importance of seeking inspiration from brands outside of your specific industry and niche.
Step 4: Practice the art of curation
"There's a lot of great content out there," one of Peters' slides read. "We can all be publishers!"
Curation describes the practice of repurposing pre-existing content you find on the internet. Every time we share a popular meme or GIF on Facebook, we're curating our Timeline. Like a museum, our social media feeds can be customized to our interests and style.
To follow the best content on the web that's most relevant to your brand, Peters suggests creating a customized Instagram desktop and Facebook Pages to Watch feed.
Step 5: Leverage the power of employees and influencers
Encourage your employees to share content with their social media following by retweeting and sharing relevant company content. If you work with social media influencers, utilize their audiences as well to help spread brand awareness. Why?
"Suppose you're a mid-size company with a total of 5,000 followers altogether on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn," explains Ryan Holmes, CEO of Hootsuite, in a Fast Company article. "Now, let's say you have 100 employees, each with (a relatively modest) 250 followers of their own, for a total of 25,000 unique followers. By asking your employees to share messages, you can boost your audience (at least on paper) from 5,000 to 30,000 – instantly."
Step 6: Establish a budget
Peters particularly stressed the importance of a realistic budget. Since it's free to sign up for social media accounts, many businesses are led to believe they shouldn't invest any capital into their social media presence. Don't make that mistake. Buffer reports on average, most businesses spend between $200 to $350 a day on social media marketing.
Even if you have to be modest, make sure you're allocating a part of your budget to brand awareness. Provide your social media strategist with enough funds to adequately market your company and the products and/or services it provides.
Step 7: Analyze, experiment, reiterate and repeat
If there's one thing social media is good for, it's for 15 minutes of fame. That's right: Content is often short-lived and quickly forgotten. That leaves you with an ideal situation to experiment with certain types of content at different times of the day. Once you find a recurring pattern that works with you, like posting a coffee photo at 9 a.m., stick with it and continue to analyze the results.
"You can't afford to not experiment," one of Peters' slides read. "Once you find something that works, go with it and improve."
Even if your company's social media team isn't just one person, the above steps can help you plan, schedule, create and post content more effectively. And remember, the social media sphere is constantly changing. Be on the lookout constantly for ways to improve your systems, and you should expect to see your numbers skyrocket.