I was recently giving a presentation to a group of small business owners when a hand went up and I was asked: How do we reach more people with social media? A fairly common question but when I'm asked this in person, I can usually see the frustration or hear it in their voice. It was clear this business owner had just about enough of social media because "it wasn't working".
After a few follow up questions, I was able to give her a some suggestions on how to improve their social media marketing efforts and reach more people. Here are a few the items we discussed.
How to Improve Your Social Media Reach
- Update Your Social Media Profiles. This may seem obvious but in the experience I mentioned above they were updating their profiles a couple of times a week. That won't do it. Social media needs to be an every day thing if it's going to be successful. She was concerned about content and I suggested having a posting schedule so they could develop content in advance. Facebook should be updated 1-2x's a day (minimum) and Twitter is ongoing daily. If you don't have a plan, it's easy to fall behind.
- Respond to Fans & Followers. The reason we share content socially is for engagement. It happens too often where a business will share something on Facebook, a fan will comment, and the business doesn't respond. If someone responds to your post, be sure to comment in return. It often starts a conversation and more of your fans are likely to join in.
- Create Quality Content. I often mention content in my blog posts so this should come as no surprise. If you want people to like, comment, share, retweet and pin, it has to be something worth it. Content comes in many forms: blog, video, podcasts, and infographics (to name a few) but no matter how you create your content, it should be something your fans will appreciate and share with their connections.
- Add Social Share Buttons. Having social media share buttons on your website make it easy for people to share your content (see our buttons above). When someone reads it, they simply click the appropriate social network and their connections will see it. You may not see a lot of engagement at first but over time it will grow... if you're creating quality content. Make it easy for people to share and they are more likely to do it.
- Customize Posts Based on the Social Network. Your posts on Twitter and Facebook should not be the same. Facebook should have an image that steals the show while Twitter allows you to use hashtags and a brief teaser. If your Twitter post is 140 characters, it's not easily retweeted. Keep it to around 100 to make it easy for your followers to share. Each network has a certain way of doing things, take the time to share post on each network the right way.
- Use Advertising. I don't often mention advertising but small ad campaigns via social media can help you reach more people and are reasonably priced. Set a budget for yourself and run different campaigns to see what works best. If you're paying per click (PPC), you get the added value of impressions for "free". It's a great way to give your social media presence a boost. If you're a local business, target your geographic area. If you have a national presence, you can narrow it down by interest or age. Don't overlook what a small ad campaign can do.
- Be Proactive; Engage Others. Don't wait for others to find you, go and seek them out. Is there a business you want to connect with? Find them and engage in conversation. A group or industry you're interested in? Find those people and jump in the conversation. If you wait for everyone to find your business, you're going to miss out. Join the conversation instead of jumping in an talking about yourself. If you can add value to the conversation people will take notice and follow.
- Focus on the Time You Post. Small businesses often fall in the habit of posting whenever they have time. Unfortunately, it's usually at 10pm or first thing in the morning when no one is active. Learn about the peak times to post and set your schedule around these times. There are plenty of tools to schedule posts and Facebook even allows you to do it without a third party tool. You can see how to schedule your Facebook posts here.
- Adapt to New Social Networks. If you're only using Facebook and Twitter, you may be missing out. Your business should seek out other social networks and determine what works best for you. Pinterest, LinkedIn, Vine, Instagram, and YouTube can help you reach more people and in some cases, you can use the same content you have created for other social networks. You can develop new relationships and add to your connections on Twitter and Facebook. You will spend more time on some than others but if you don't join in, you'll never know.
- Guest Blogging Program. A guest blogging program can help you reach a new audience either by sharing content on other sites or inviting people to write for your blog. If you're writing for another blog, they are going to share your article with their audience. If someone writes for your blog, they are going to share their article (on your website) with their audience. Either way, you're reaching people via social media that you wouldn't have had access to otherwise.
As I told the woman at the presentation, social media requires goals and a plan. Set your goals, and develop a plan to reach them. Planning will help any small business improve their social media efforts and ultimately reach more people.