by Stacy Herrick, Communications Specialist, firstname.lastname@example.org
Once you have decided to give your small business a social media profile, it is important to determine what you want to do with it. Finding your voice is an integral step when starting out with social media. What is it that you hope to accomplish with your page? Some common objectives are promoting news in your industry, success stories/customer testimonials and promoting upcoming events.
Along with finding your voice, it is key to define your audience. Who is it that needs to hear the messages that you’re sending out? Your audience doesn’t have to be defined into an exact segment, but you should be able to categorize and prioritize them so it is possible to plan your posts appropriately. It is important to put yourself in their shoes and think about what information they would want to receive, not just what you think they want to know. When creating your content, ask yourself some of the following questions:
• What do they want to know?
• What information is most valuable to them?
• What content should I share? (original content vs. outside sources)
• Tone: Conversational and “fun” or all business?
As we all know, there are tons of social media platforms out there for people to use. Knowing your audience will help you determine which platform(s) to use. The most commonly used are Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest. While these are the most common, you don’t have to stick with just one. In fact, it is good to have a mix, because each one has different purposes and affects its audiences differently.
Another question to ask yourself is, “When is my audience most apt to hear my message?” The shelf life on social media is about three hours, and most of your interaction will occur within the first 60 minutes of posting. Some people may check their Facebook newsfeed before work and not check it again until the evening. So, if you post at 10 a.m., they may not scroll all the way through their newsfeed to find your post, and you message will not been seen. Leo Widrich, a blogger for bufferapp.com, wrote, “With some of the smartest minds in social media having taken on the science of timing, one thing seems clear: no one arrives at one optimal solution.” It is for this very reason that using scheduling tools such as HootSuite and TweetDeck are important to utilize. (Note: Facebook has a scheduling feature for their business pages. Look for the clock icon in the bottom left corner of the posting box.) The spur-of-the-moment post is great, but it’s possible to map out your content ahead of time. That way, instead of being glued to your computer or smart phone throughout the day, you can “set it and forget it.”
When scheduling posts ahead of time, you will want to set them to go live when your audience is most apt to see them. If you’re just starting out, this will involve a lot of guesswork. But, if your Facebook page is currently in existence, check out the analytical tools that come with it. It will tell you what time of day your posts are seeing the most action and can help determine your biggest bang for the buck. Currently, Twitter’s analytics do not give you feedback based on time of posts, but if you have a rough idea of when you posted, you can get a feel for how your Tweets are doing at different points of the day based on the other information provided.
These strategies will help jumpstart the social media presence of your small business. Although each business is unique, there is always going to be an audience for your industry online. The key is find who those people are, where they are and when they’re online.