1. Make sure you’re on Google and Facebook
At a bare minimum, you need to make sure that your business has a presence on the most popular search engine and social media sites. If your business has been around a while, it probably already has a listing on Google, but you need to claim that listing.
By claiming your listing on Google, you can make sure that your business hours and contact information are correct. Claiming the listing also allows you to respond to reviews.
2. Make your own personal social media accounts
The best way to learn about social media is by creating an account for your business. When you have your own LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook pages, you will have a better idea of the different markets with each site.
Some companies make the mistake of trying to force their branding message onto every site, and this can be perceived as artificial and disingenuous. Once you have had a chance to see how other businesses in your industry handle their social media accounts, you can decide how your business can engage in an authentic and sustainable way.
3. Diversify your social media presence
Social media is always changing, but there’s a real advantage to having a presence on several different sites. The individual social media sites also change every few years, and Twitter could be on the cusp of new changes.
Your social media profiles on different sites can feed into each other, and individual sites each have their unique advantages. Creating a YouTube page and posting a few videos is an easy way to boost your search ranking.
4. Choose your target demographic
If you are looking to gain the attention of female customers, then it would be a good idea to consider a Pinterest page, since over 80% of Pinterest users are female.
On the other hand, LinkedIn is better for B2B promotions and finding professional clients. LinkedIn also can be useful for recruiting new staff.
Ultimately, the way you define your target demographic will shape the way you use each of your business’s social media pages.
5. Avoid engaging in fake news
Users are gradually becoming aware of the problem represented by fake news on social media. It can be tempting to hop on board with an edgy or viral meme, but that also can impact the way your company is perceived.
In a political climate that has become increasingly polarized, it has become easy to unintentionally alienate potential customers. With the explosion of spinoff sites involved in content creation, it has become increasingly difficult to discern which sources are credible.
6. Live broadcast a video
In addition to the wider choice of reactions to a post, Facebook added live video feeds in 2016. Broadcasting a live video on Facebook is comparable to having a local news crew show up at your business. A live broadcast can be the perfect way to publicize a special event or sale.
Depending on your industry, you can also broadcast a training or something else that would be of interest to your target audience. By using live video for a webinar or training, your presenter can answer questions from the online community, further increasing engagement.
7. Provide an immersive experience
Similar to the innovations in live video, Facebook also has added the capability for 360-degree photos and videos. The immersive experience allows your audience to feel more engaged than a standard picture or video post.
Rent a 360-degree camera, and you can give customers a tour of your facility or virtually walk them through your front door. Sponsor an athlete in your community to make a promotional video that has the potential to go viral.
The businesses that think of innovative ways to exploit these new forms of media will be the most successful in promoting their brands.
8. Time your postings
If you aren’t careful about the times you post on social media, then you aren’t reaching the largest possible audience. The best time to post depends on the type of social media page you’re using.
Facebook and Twitter posts get the widest circulation in the evening, later in the week. LinkedIn, on the other hand, gets the most traffic in the morning in the middle of the work week.
Many social media sites allow you to schedule your posts for peak hours, so your business can still have Facebook posts going online while the office is empty.
9. Keep up with the times
Every business wants to “go viral” with content that gets widely circulated on social media. Unfortunately, there’s no way to calculate exactly the right kind of post to generate that kind of response.
The best answer is to keep up to date with the latest trends in social media. While it’s best to steer clear of political issues, there are plenty of harmless social media stunts that could serve as opportunities to promote your brand.
If your staff wants to participate in the mannequin challenge, for example, then the stunt may be worth sacrificing an hour or two of productivity. Ultimately, social media should be an opportunity to connect with customers and further develop your brand.
10. Pay for help
Managing social media takes time and expertise, especially when your business is looking to maintain a presence across multiple sites. Just learning about the different markets takes time, and then it can be a challenge to develop engaging and informative posts that promote your brand.
Some businesses delegate the maintenance of social media pages to someone already working in the office, but this tends to result in inconsistent quality. Personal experience with social media is very useful, but a secretary with a Facebook page is not necessarily equipped to project a professional image for your brand.
Budgeting for social media also allows you to pay for advertising, which can increase the size of your following.
Ultimately, social media is a complex field when it comes to maximizing the impact for your business. The initial steps of claiming your listing and building a presence can be accomplished by anyone with a moderate level of social media experience. Using all of those pages effectively, however, demands dedication and experience.
With the right help, social media can make 2017 a big year for your small business.