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Sarah Haston: Some basic tips for social media marketing

Sarah Haston • Updated Jul 11, 2017 at 1:00 PM

Social media is something that most American’s use every day, but how many of our small business owners use it for business? Let’s go one step further. Does your small business have a social media marketing strategy? 

It can be overwhelming when one starts and thinks about how there are so many different social media platforms now – with Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and even more with Vine, Google+ and Snapchat. 

When developing a strategy, there are a few priorities to consider that will help your marketing effort be more of a success and not just something that you do because others are doing it. 

• Content is king. It is important to have planned content that is relevant to your audience. If we can assume that at this point in your business you understand your audience. You know who they are, what they like and what they want and expect from you. You should be able to communicate to them on the platform they prefer. 

Although your audience might share similarities and certain characteristics, they are not all the same. You need to communicate to your audience mix with content they are looking for, even when they don’t know they are looking for it. 

I always recommend using a content calendar and organize your content in advance. This not only will help you avoid typos, but will also give you time to be more creative. Your content should be short, simple, consistent and relevant. 

• Mix platforms. As a marketing rule, we don’t want to as they say, “put all of our eggs in one basket,” and the same applies to social media marketing. Smartphone users have multiple choices. Understand your consumers. Your audience may or may not be on all social media platforms. You will find some Twitter users, not Facebook users, while others will be on Instagram but not Pinterest. Your social media marketing strategy should include content for each platform and a separate time schedule to post to each, as well. 

You do not need to post the same content for each platform, and you shouldn’t either. Just like how your audience is all somewhat unique, the social media user is, too. The person who uses Instagram is different from the user on Facebook. So I ask you this, why talk to them the same way with the same message? It is OK to mix it up and always test, track, tweak and repeat. Take note of what works on each platform so you can replicate it with similar posts.

• Engagement is key. Remember that social media, when done correctly, should spark engagement. This goes further than a like. Your goal is to gain a customer, ultimately make a sale and ideally have them become a raving fan or advocate for your business. You should be thinking about this as you are developing your content. What would make this member of your audience not only engage in your post online, but take it a step further, by making them come into your store, make a purchase and then share their experience with their friends? 

• Use unique social offers. Don’t be afraid to have an exclusive offer for your friends and followers on social media. Try new social offers by encouraging them to mention a post for an extra 10 percent off. Ask them to check-in for a discount, too. If you can bring your online consumer into your store, reward them for it. Don’t be afraid to ask them to engage and reward them for it. 

You will have true marketing magic when your social media audience is engaged, making a purchase and telling their friends.

Sarah Haston is the economic development director for the city of Lebanon. 


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