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A Social Media Strategy for SMBs
If you own a small to medium sized business (SMB), you’ve no doubt been told that social media web sites are a great way to market your business. In the DC area alone, there must be two dozen seminars a week on the topic. What most of these seminars do is raise awareness and market the presenter’s social media marketing services – few leave you with actionable takeaways or DIY strategies (which is unfortunate, but understandable).
That’s the goal of this blog post – to outline a quick and dirty social media marketing strategy for the time-starved small business owner!
Before we get started, there are a couple of underlying points with respect to online marketing that you should understand (and embrace):
- Recognize that success marketing your business online is about content and real estate
- Just like in the real world, real estate online is all about location, location, location!
- Next to referrals from customers and direct sales, your website is your #1 sales/marketing tool
- Think of your website like a sales funnel where every visit is a prospect
Think of your main website as “the mother ship” – a large fishing vessel (or yacht if you prefer). Each marketing strategy you employ could be thought of as a baited fishing line dropped off the side of the boat. Even the smallest of businesses will typically have 2-3 lines in the water at all times (concurrent marketing strategies) – common examples include: Pay Per Click Advertising, Direct Mail, Email Marketing, SEO, etc.
If direct marketing strategies can be thought of as baited fishing lines off of the mother ship, social media websites might be more analogous to smaller boats launched from the mother ship. Each of these smaller boats can also have fishing lines in the water thereby covering a larger swath of ocean and ultimately luring more fish back to the mother ship.
Make sense so far?
Growth seeking business owners should put as many well-baited fishing lines in the water as possible. Once you have lines going off each end of your mother ship, you want to get more boats in the water to cover a larger patch of ocean and eventually you’ll probably want to get some additional fishing lines thrown in the water off of those boats.
With the basics covered, here’s your step-by-step, quick and dirty, social media marketing strategy:
1. Install website analytics
Simply put – You can’t win the game if you don’t know the score! Is it better to blog or write online articles on Buzzle.com? Should you invest more in SEO or PPC? How many hours a week should you spend updating your businesses Facebook fan page? All of these questions can be answered if you are accurately tracking the activity on your website. But, not all tracking is created equal. It’s critical that whatever tracking service you use provides you with your true visit-to-lead conversion rate (and for many businesses, this includes web generated phone calls).
2. Identify 3-4 keyword phrases that drive qualified visitors to your website
With website analytics in place, you can now identify the 3-4 keyword phrases that drive profitable business outcomes. No visitors from search? No problem! Invest in a paid search campaign or hire a company (like Blue Corona) to do a one-time SEO project for you.
3. Brainstorm the “implied” questions people searching for those keyword phrases might be trying to answer
There’s an implied question or intention with every general keyword search. Some people refer to Google as “the database of intentions.” What questions could someone searching “water delivery bethesda, md” be trying to answer? How much does it cost? Who’s the closest water company to Bethesda? There are tools available online that can automate this process, but there is a certain benefit to doing it manually.
4. Create 10-20 pages worth of kick-ass content related to those questions and keyword phrases
Answer the questions related to your top keyword phrases. Make sure that you leverage your business expertise and add an element of personal flare! Everyone says that content is king, but how king your content is depends on a number of factors – originality, tone, volume, relevance, etc.
5. Place this content on your website
Create additional pages on your website – one page per topic or question (from above). Each page should contain at least 500 word and 1,000 – 1,500 is probably closer to ideal.
6. Seed the content across the social media landscape in a headline/tickler fashion
Once you have your 10-20 pages of new content on your website, chop it up into headlines, blurbs and re-purposed articles and start posting it, tweeting it and sharing it across the social media landscape. Recognize the various social media sites and understand the strengths and weaknesses of each. Twitter is excellent for promotion while Buzzle.com and WordPress.com can be great platforms to share large amounts of written information. If the information that you want to share is photographic or video, try Flickr and YouTube.
Popular sites include:
Here’s a quick example of how all this can work –
You identify “yellow page case study” as a keyword phrase that’s valuable for your business. You write a 2,500 word case study on the efficacy of yellow page advertising for the plumbing industry. You post that article or content on your website — on a sub-page of the site — something like “www.mywebsite.com/yellow-page-advertising-performance-for-plumbers.htm”.
Next, you place headline like blurbs from your case study on your businesses Facebook fan page and on Twitter. Then you write a blog post that offers a slightly more opinionated version of your case study and you link that back to the main case study. You might also tweet about the new blog post and tie your blog to your Facebook and LinkedIn profiles.
If you’ve done all this, congratulations! You’re now the owner of a full-blown social media marketing campaign!
There’s one element that we haven’t covered, but we will in a future blog post – in order for any of this to work, you really need to build up your social media community. Having said this, following the strategy above is a great way create a community! Which comes first – the content creation or the community – is subject to much debate.
Generally speaking, we believe you should create the content as if you already have a huge community. Truly valuable content is like a magnet. Building a community based on very little information is not only difficult, but it is also somewhat unsustainable.
One thing that has probably become clear at this point is that while social media marketing has no direct cost, it has a very large cost in terms of time. While no one knows more about your business than you do and there is a value in doing some of the work yourself, there’s no shame in outsourcing your social media marketing to someone else – like us!
If you’re interested in learning more about Blue Corona’s social media marketing / content marketing options, please contact us.
About The Author: Ben Landers is the President and CEO of Blue Corona, a data-driven, inbound internet marketing company. Submit an inquiry to book Ben to speak at your next conference or event.
View more blogs by Ben Landers