Graphic about DOs and Don'ts of Social Media

DOs, DON’Ts and WHOs of Social Media for Small Business

Small business owners know they want social media for marketing but, understandably, pose many questions about its efficacy.

They want to make time and spend time on it, but need to be nimble and realize efficacy and a return on investment. A couple of common mistakes include dabbling it and/or using some kind of cookie cutter program. The digital marketing program you devise or choose must be tailored to your specific business. Not just your business sector or category, but your particular company.

Before elaborating on customized content marketing, I’d like to share a few of the DOs, DON’Ts and WHOs of social media.

DON’Ts

  • Don’t just promote your products and services. Instead, promote the idea of great experiences customers can have when shopping with you. Make this easy by telling customer stories, funny anecdotes, and heart-warming testimonials. Avoid simply posting material that commands prospects to simple “buy now.” Position yourself as an expert, a problem solver, a go-to business. Remember, your prospect is in the decision-making process when they land on your post or page, so first you must give them a reason to buy. You must convince them to buy. (Do have that buy now button nearby!)
  • Don’t cut and paste from one social network to another. It looks lazy. Worse, it could cause those comments to be suppressed if bots are checking for copied material.

DOs:

  • In social media profiles, video uploads and Pinterest posts (Pins), DO fill out descriptions. This is where you pump in the key words people search for when looking where to buy. Write this content with some thought. Anything sloppy, even a goof, reflects on that business.
  • Do make videos of your business. People deciding whether to visit or make an appointment will be more inclined if they feel acquainted online. Put your most personable people in the video. Ask. It might not be who you think.
  • Do make infographics. People eat this up. You know you do too. Make sure the dimensions are user-friendly. Colorful designs are eye-catching and make reading fun. They stay in people’s minds, like a mental map to your business. Moreover, some social networks (ahem, Facebook) appear to give more reach (a wider audience) to posts with videos or pretty image files.

WHOs

Too many chefs in the broth? Appoint a point person. You need a traffic cop. Marketing is not anything goes. Make sure if you have a SEO team and a social media team, they are connected.

How does social media relate to SEO (search engine optimization)? See YouTube, Google+, Twitter and Periscope. I was pleasantly surprised the other day when I did a basic Google keyword search for a concept I wanted to promote for a client, using simple search terms, and the client’s YouTube video I posted to Google+ showed up. I tried to replicate that search result the next day to no avail. There is no silver bullet there.

Still, you need to stay in the game. You need to keep posting. Social platforms are search engines. Think about Pinterest. People use it to search for things they want to buy. In turn, Pinterest collections also show up in Google searches. Twitter is used as a search engine. It’s not just about web browser searches. This search engine game is dynamic so there is no easy answer. If you are already creating social media content to showcase your business on specific platforms, you may find a knock-on benefit elsewhere.

Again, your social media content coordinator should know your SEO/website team. They should be on the same page. Each time you delegate something to someone somewhere without coordination, you could be diluting your messaging. Worse, too many things could result in contradictions and be counterproductive

Get with the Program

Social media is not an experiment. Stop treating it like one. It’s always people who tried this or that who complain it doesn’t work. Like anything else, you got to be in it to win it.

Be Systematic

Choose which social media channels you want to be on. Plan a calendar week by week, month by month, of what topics you are going to stay on.

Decide what mix of blogs and videos you want to use for content marketing. Plot those out on a calendar.

How many times to post?

  • Facebook: Daily, ideally. Honestly, it seems that buying FB ads is really the way for business pages to get further reach. You’ll need a mix of original content and ads.
  • YouTube: daily, weekly, depends on your ability to produce. Just be consistent.
  • Twitter: 5 to 10 times a day (Don’t be one of those 500Xday accounts)
  • LinkedIn: 2-5 times a week. If you have a company page, at least one a week.
  • Google+: 3-10 times per week
  • Pinterest: 5-10 per day
  • Instagram: 1-5 times per day

My program

I am a coordinator. My program works best when the business owner and I can chat at least once a week. I should also be engaged with the website person and anyone involved with any aspect of digital marketing.

Sometimes, there are so many wheels spinning they may not be engaging at the same speed or in the same direction. I’ve seen situations where people didn’t realize a Google Adwords campaign was on autopilot and not  aligned with current marketing campaigns or business objectives. I’ve seen a Facebook page being run by an agency that formerly administered business’ website and the business owner had no idea who was making the posts.

There are a lot of outsourced content and social media marketers that never step foot in a business or know anyone who works there. By contrast, I learn as much as I can from the people inside a business to tell their company story to the marketplace.

I am hands on and will need input from them so that the marketing content is true to their business. It needs to be written and crafted in keeping with their company culture.

We will devise a program to run for a minimum of three months. We’ll determine what mix of blogs and video will be used to raise the company profile and make it more findable in searches. Moreover, when that business is found, the story is fun, educational and interesting. You need to actually be saying something interesting.

For some, I’ll write 2 or 4 blogs a month. Or edit 4-5 blogs. Or write 2 blogs and produce 2 videos. Or 4-5 videos a month, etc. All the while, I will be engaging on the social media accounts. After three months, we may revise the mix and add or subject things. The longer the arrangement, the better I get to know the business as the coordinator. This is the next best thing to have an internal marketing department that represents your business.

For more information, contact Katharine Fraser of Adroit Narratives.

How to Write Quality Content for Websites and Social Media

There’s an old story about a dog who chased cars for years and when he actually caught hold of a bumper, he had no idea what to do with it. Same goes for businesses that are singularly focused on SEO [search engine optimization] but don’t have good underlying marketing copy, or content, to keep people on their website. A knowledgeable SEO provider can get you a higher ranking in SERP (search engine results pages), but that’s no good if your website content is boring, or worse, shoddy. Another problem apparent in some website content these days is content written by software for SEO purposes. Quite frankly, a dramatic reading of this content requires a robotic voice. It’s bad enough if a typo is on your website, so why allow horrific grammar and awkward wording to be on there? Instead, you can pair good SEO practices and good content writing. After all, what is the point of driving traffic to your website if the content on it is embarrassing or uninformative?

Pros and Cons of SEO Writing

You’ve probably seen or use a blog plugin for SEO writing that advises you if you are properly using your keyword and supplies other pieces of pragmatic advice. But that doesn’t allow for nuances. Note how the word content is not in the first sentence of this blog. Well, technically, that is a no-no, but then how would I have given you the analogy of the car-chasing dog? What would be more memorable – the visual of the dog grabbing hold of a bumper in its mouth or the use of the word “content”? As an aside, I’m not even a fan of the word content (which is dreaded in certain writing circles as dull and meaningless) but I use it nonetheless because it is a word I know people are using in web searches as it has a specific meaning. Here is where old-fashioned good writing and SEO writing actually align: use specific words. Always be as specific as possible. This is good for traditional writing in that specificity provides clarity. It is also good for SEO because key words are findable.

Don’t Make Perfect the Enemy of Good content

I hear from a lot of people that they have an idea for a blog or for their website but they are not ready to post it because it doesn’t seem perfect. If you were striving to win a literature prize, this inertia would be understandable. If you are a business owner looking to announce a new offering or provide background on what you company does, please do not hold back. Start writing. Give yourself parameters to make it approachable, such as:

  • setting aside 30 minutes to give the writing your undivided attention
  • just write 500 words per blog or webpage
  • segment the content into business categories by services/products, seasonal campaigns, etc.

Proofread

For the love of Pete, please proofread your writing before publishing. Ask a colleague or employee to edit it. Print it out and re-read it with fresh eyes. Walk away from it for an hour and return to review it anew. Proofread for typos and grammar woes by reading the content from the bottom up, starting from the last sentence. You are more likely to catch errors this way than if taking it from the top only to read right past your mistakes.

Own It

Take the same pride in authorship as you do in your business. Writing for the web about your business is no different than standing up at a local business breakfast to give an elevator pitch about your company. Put the same thought and consideration into what you write as what you say to customers and prospects.

For more writing advice, contact consultant Katharine Fraser.

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