As the world “stays home” during the COVID-19 global pandemic the importance of Social Media and other digital platforms is unprecedented. The increase in the use of this channel of communication is a result of people looking to stay informed of current events, maintain contact with friends, family, and hopefully continue to work.
There are five primary roles social media can be used to fulfill in an outreach strategy which can be implemented, monitored and maintained by remote employees, these include:
- Networking: Social Media’s original purpose, as suggested by the name, was to provide a communications channel enabling people to socialize on various levels. Sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn enable you to reach out, engage current and prospective clients as well as build both their brand and provide thought leadership with helpful and valuable content.
- Content Promotion: Creating a social media marketing strategy to promote appropriate content that helps viewers address their business and customer service issues via different channels will help build your reputation, visibility, and brand loyalty. It’s an ideal way to build a solid, respected brand identity and gain market share, especially during an unsettled period such as this when other small businesses may be ignoring marketing. Now is not the time to be “selling”. This is when you should focus on educating clients and notifying customers of how current conditions will impact your ability to provide answers to their questions and customer service needs during this time of crisis.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Your social media presence provides a valuable way to boost your online visibility through SEO. Social media content is searchable, so sharing content allows you to attract organic links, which impact your page authority. By boosting your social media presence should improve you page ranks in search engines, further increasing your online visibility.
- Research: Small businesses can use social media to engage in something called “social listening.” This is a method of research and market intelligence-gathering which can be used to check out the social media streams of sales leads, new clients, and prospective employees. Monitoring an individual’s or organization’s posts, discussions, and shared content is an effective way to glean valuable information about their views, personality, reputation, authority and preferences.
- Recruiting: Social media is a natural recruitment tool for new employees as well as business partners. LinkedIn and Facebook lets you post highly-targeted jobs focusing on users with certain skills and provides real-time analytics showing who has viewed your posts, when, and how often. LinkedIn is an effective tool to seek out business collaborations.
If you are a small business and have not developed a comprehensive social media marketing strategy, now would be the perfect time to seek our help. Here are six steps to follow when creating a social media strategy.
- Determine Its Purpose
Are you going to use it primarily:
- As a networking tool to engage with clients, prospects, and partners?
- To build online brand identity and visibility?
- To attract visitors to your website?
- To conduct research?
- As a recruitment tool?
2. Identify and Research Target Audiences
Is your businesses core value based on a specific service or niche? Determine decision-makers based on what you have to offer and then where to find them online. Don’t forget to include as part of your target audience(s) potential influencers who can affect decision-makers.
3. Choose the Appropriate Social Media Platform(s)
Different decision-makers in different industries prefer different channels. Each channel has unique characteristics that may require different strategies. In addition to the conventional major business platforms such as LinkedIn, don’t forget the private social forums preferred by many industries.
4. Establish Goals and Metrics
In many cases, the nature of the social platform will determine the kind of goals you can reasonably set and the metrics you can establish to determine if you were successful in achieving those goals. In general, there are three broad categories of useful goals:
- What you did and how well you did it
- Response to your program – who responded and how
- Results – how successful were you in accomplishing your goal?
5. Develop Implementation Tactics
No strategy will be successful unless it’s implemented properly. If you do not have the skills in-house to effectively develop, implement, and maintain a social media plan, then you need to hire outside help to either provide the tools and training your firm needs or to assume responsibility for implementing and maintaining the entire program.
Every plan, no matter how well-conceived, can usually benefit from tweaking. Perhaps there are implementation issues, or results that are not what you’d like them to be. No matter what the problem, large or small, active troubleshooting is crucial for optimizing your program and achieving the success you planned for.
Now more than ever, social media should be playing an active role in your small business’s marketing plan. If there is any bright side to the current pandemic, it’s that people are staying home to stay safe and that means your target audience is spending a significant amount of time on social media and is more accessible and available than they might normally be.
By focusing on social media networking and establishing contact with clients and prospects, you can create opportunities to engage in more meaningful and substantial dialogs. Take advantage of these opportunities to share valuable information and content that can help your audience address the challenges they face working at home and attempting to conduct business remotely. By fulfilling their needs and helping them weather the crisis, you will be building your brand value and earning their loyalty.