How to Build an Effective Small Business Social Media Strategy

Does anyone else feel like there aren’t enough hours in a day? As a service-based business owner, every second of your time counts – don’t waste it! Social media can be a total blessing or a cursed drainer of precious time. Use it strategically to avoid the latter.

Without an effective social media strategy, small business owners end up with a disjointed posting schedule, mixed messaging, mindless scrolling habits, and a random, unproductive engagement approach that detracts from (rather than encourages) sales. This is detrimental not only for your social accounts but also for your sanity. Who wants to spend all that time on something that bears little to no results?

Definitely not us! Here’s how to build an effective small business social media strategy and save precious time (you can thank us later).

1. Consider What You Want to Accomplish – Create Social Media Goals

Your social media strategy should be the trusted roadmap that successfully guides your brand to each destination. So, how do you decide where you want to stop along the way? It all starts with your goals. Before you can determine the how, you have to understand the what and the why. Ask yourself these three questions:

· Why am I using social media?

· What are my overall business goals?

· What do I hope to accomplish through my social media channels?

Your social media goals should be an extension of your overall business goals. They are meant to be complementary and not supplementary. An effective social media strategy provides synergy and support to the overall objectives of your brand. Start by listing out everything you hope to accomplish. Here are some ideas for possible social media goals:

· Increase Brand Awareness

· Generate Sales or New Leads

· Expand Referral, Client, or Industry Networks

· Build Website Traffic

· Enhance Brand Loyalty and Client Support Capabilities

· Promote New Service or Product Launches

To create a really solid approach, make sure your goals are specific, measurable, and realistic. Add deadlines, so you know how often to evaluate your progress and measure your success. Think about referencing the SMART acronym when building out these goals, so you don’t miss anything important!

2. Narrow Down Your Ideal Audience

So now that you outlined your goals, you’re ready to get started, right?! Wrong!

How can you start speaking to an audience if you don’t know who you’re really talking to? This is perhaps one of the most challenging and time-consuming steps for service-based businesses. Use this time to create ideal client avatars or buyer personas. If you've never heard either of these words, they're just fancy ways for the industry to tell you it’s time to figure out who the heck you will be talking to with your content! Think about your target audience’s demographics, psychographics, and behaviors. Figure out what problems or challenges they encounter regularly and why your services are the best to relieve them from those issues.

You need to have an excellent understanding of who your brand is targeting to move on and create a social media content calendar that focuses on results-oriented social media platforms. This is the time-consuming research stage that we see many small business owners mistakenly skip over. How can you sell services on social if you don’t really know who you’re selling them to? To begin, we recommend only creating a few buyer personas (three maximum), so your strategy can be easily digestible and accurately focused on the groups most likely to engage and convert.

3. Choose Your Ideal Social Media Channels

Not all platforms are the right platforms for your business. Though it’s easy to get caught up in wanting to exist on all (or many) channels, without a large, in-house social team or budget, you just won’t have the bandwidth to use them all to their fullest. It’s like we always say to our clients, it’s better to do really well on a few than mediocre on many.

This step is also where your ideal client research comes into play. If you know who you’re targeting, you can better understand which channels they spend most of their time on. Start by building a strategy for those platforms, and hopefully with the successful, strategic growth you’ll experience, you’ll be able to continue expanding to include more. Quality over quantity is the name of the successful social media game!

4. Craft A Consistent, Engaging Social Media Content Calendar

Consistency, or more like strategic consistency, should be your guiding light on social media. We aren’t here to give you arbitrary numbers or unrealistic guidelines for posting frequency. Forget about what all the “viral” gurus recommend. At the end of the day, an effective strategy is all about what is manageable for you as a business owner or your small team. Need we repeat it? To be effective, you must be focusing on quality over quantity.

We recommend that your social media content calendar includes a well-planned schedule with recurring content pillars that tie back to your strategic goals. Please do not make it all about you. In fact, your content calendar should really only contain about 20% promotional content. Think about how you can provide value and showcase your expertise through your social media. It’s an amazing opportunity to connect with your audience on a more personal level. Showcase your brand personality and what your service-based business is all about.

Think about your content mix as well. Try rounding out your social media strategy with blog posts, email drip campaigns, and other content pieces like videos, live sessions, and podcasts.

Once you’ve crafted the calendar (batching the content a month in advance is a big time-saver), it’s time to set the schedule. Make it realistic, and stick to it!

5. Track Your Results

What good is a social media strategy if you have no idea whether it works?! Tracking your results after launching is perhaps one of the most overlooked yet critical pieces of this entire process. Using the time-bound deadlines set in step 1, check to see if you’ve accomplished, or at least made it closer to, your ultimate goal. By the time the deadline approaches, you want a good idea of whether you made it or missed it. Most of the social networks have free insights trackers you can use to evaluate your success.

6. Tweak and Track Again!

Don’t just stop there. If you didn’t accomplish a particular goal, don’t give up on it. Make some adjustments, try something new, and start tracking it again for a more accurate evaluation of your success. There is no secret formula, so making tweaks and trying new things is the only way to truly understand what performs best for your target audience. Results will differ across brands, audiences, and industries.

We know you’re eager to get started on social media, but let’s stop and take a deep breath before we make any sudden moves. Before publishing any content, it’s important to lay out a clear strategy. Start by considering what you want to accomplish with social media and how you can use it to support your overall business goals. Then, define your target audience and choose which channels are best suited for your brand. Once you have a solid grasp on these first three points, it’s time to create a consistently engaging social media content calendar. After you launch your new content, don’t forget to track, tweak, and then track again! While there’s no one-size-fits-all formula for success, this strategic approach to social media is the most effective way to get there.

Are you ready to finally have an effective small business social media strategy? So are we! Fill out the form below, and let’s get started.