Are you one of those businesses that find social media overwhelming? We feel your pain. With the proliferation of social networks, it’s become virtually impossible to stay on top of what’s new in the world of social. Plus you have to keep track of updates and new features on existing channels, study them and integrate them into your social plan.

If you’re a small business, with a marketing team of one or maybe two, who could blame you for giving up even before you start? But if you did give up you’d be fighting the fear of not being present. What happens to your reputation if you aren’t active socially? Will your customers be upset with you if they can’t reach you on social networks? How will you share your stories?

Social media is the new normal, and until the next big revolution comes along, it’s increasingly becoming the way businesses communicate with the world at large. While we don’t have a wand that can magic away your social media woes, we do, however, have a set of simple strategies that can simplify your life and help you create a sensible social media strategy that meets your needs and goals using the resources you have available.

1. Define your target audience.

If you haven’t already, now is a good time to identify and set up your buyer personas. Simply put, buyer personas are (1) common behaviour patterns, (2) shared pain points – professional and personal, (3) universal goals, hopes and dreams and (4) general demographic & biographic information that help you segment your audiences. Using buyer personas helps you understand the challenges each of these groups face and the problems they are trying to solve, making it easier for you to tailor your content and messaging or even product development to the specific needs, behaviours, and concerns of different groups. Hubspot has an excellent article on how to create Buyer Personas for your business and a free template to get you started. Do remember to create not more than 3 – 4 personas for your business or you could get caught up in a spiral of never-ending detail. Focus on the rule, not the exception.

2. Start small.

With new channels added every day, it’s overwhelming to decide which ones your brand should be on. Plus there’s the added trauma of building a following on each and then engaging them with interesting and relevant content.

The simple solution – go where your customers and prospective customers are. If you’ve defined your target audience, figuring this one out should be super simple. Listen to your audience, see which channels they’re on and forget about the rest. For small businesses, this list, typically, won’t amount to more than 3 – 4 channels. We use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

Having a focus will ensure you’re able to do justice to your presence on each channel. And in the long run, you’ll be happier with the payoff – deeper engagement with your networks.

3. There are tools to help.

There are hundreds of tools available to help you manage your social media presence. We currently use Buffer, but have in the past also used HootSuite.

4. Blog once a week at the minimum.

Yes, you have a hundred things to do, and blogging is hard. But there is no substitute for fresh content. You can start by making a list of the most common questions you hear from your customers and prospects and create posts around them. Commit to building your blog portfolio, one post at a time, a minimum of once a week, Once you start posting consistently, you’ll discover that your daily interactions become a source of new topics and blogging won’t seem so hard anymore. The significant benefit – you’re establishing yourself as a rich resource of content specific to your industry.

Once you’re comfortable blogging, you can go one step further and create downloadable content like infographics, e-books, how-tos, that your audience can hold on to and reference whenever they need.

5. Develop a Calendar to guide you.

Set up a posting schedule to manage your social media outreach. Include your channels, the number of posts on each per day or week, what kind of post, whether it ties in with a campaign or event. Start with goals you’re comfortable with and are confident you can stick to. Depending on the results you see tweak the elements – build, change, remove until you have a mix you’re happy with. (You can use our social media content calendar template to get you started. And feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions or need help.)

6. Focus on engagement as a metric.

It’s easy to get caught up in the maelstrom of available metrics and insights available on channels as well as within the tools you use. There are literally hundreds of things you can track – most of them vanity metrics. Keeping track of them all will leave you time for little else.

Focus on engagement. See which of your posts are being shared or commented on, which ones are driving traffic to your website and taking your audience another step further into your sales funnel.

Once you get a sense of what’s working and what’s not, set more specific goals. Use the data to fine-tune your strategy to better effect.

7. Share the load.

Even if you’re a small business or a marketing department of one, you probably have access to resources you haven’t considered. For example, you may have colleagues who could help you blog or tweet or post. Reach out to them. Start small to establish their comfort zone. It always helps to have support.

8. Do the work.

Despite what the ‘experts’ have told you, social media isn’t an exact science; it’s forever evolving. It takes time and effort and unless you’re famous, doesn’t show results overnight. You will need to experiment until you find the right mix of channels and messaging that works for your audience. Hold yourself accountable. Do the work. And most of all, keep the faith. Social Media is worth it.

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