For many small businesses, social media has become just as important as a website. Having digital property on social media lets you cast a wider net, engage in conversations, and share your stories to hundreds—and, quickly, even thousands—of people. But for a small to medium-sized IT firm, where do you focus your efforts? Let’s look at how to develop a social media strategy the easy way.
What Do You Want from Social?
Social media can easily turn into an inconvenience rather than a helpful tool if you don’t clearly define your goals. So why are you using social media? Here are three possible reasons.
To Establish a Presence
Look at Apple’s Twitter page and you’ll notice they don’t have any tweets at all. You can find them, but Apple has decided not to share information through social media. Having a presence is the first step in any social media strategy, but it’s limited if you aren’t actively building an audience. Apple gets tons of attention through other means, but most of us aren’t Apple, so we’ll have to build an audience to be effective. At a minimum, having a presence will help you cast a wider net and give people a few more ways to find you.
To Establish an Audience
Building connections with people is what social media is all about. By actively sharing various types of content, you can build a following. It takes time and effort, but consistency and hard work pays off. As you gain followers, your reach widens, and through ongoing engagement, you will soon have more people to share your message on your behalf. In time, people in your network will start to get curious about your services, and some will end up as clients.
To Use Paid Advertising
Social media also lets you target users by paying a small fee that places your content in front of more eyeballs. When done correctly, social media advertising can provide big returns. Since you can target people who might need your services (or who fit the profile of your ideal client), your message will resonate more and pique the interest of those who need what you sell.
Thinking Through Platforms
We all know about the main social media platforms, but let’s take a closer look at each of the big four to help you decide which is worth your effort. Some companies actively build audiences on all platforms. Some choose one or two to focus on and establish a basic presence on the remaining ones. In any case, here are some things to know about each.
Given their massive user base, there’s a good chance you’re already personally on Facebook. As you may have noticed, much of the advertising you see on Facebook is consumer-focused. Clothing, gadgets, and other goods appear frequently, which make Facebook great if you have a consumer grade product to sell. It’s generally considered less effective for IT firms selling services to other businesses since it’s a more personal and less professional place. That said, many people on Facebook are professionals, and you can always test the waters through paid promotion. Target people who might need your services, and see if your messaging resonates.
Twitter offers many of the same things Facebook does. It has a large user base and options for paid promotions. While Twitter definitely can be very much focused on consumers, it’s also frequently used by businesses because it’s easy to use and quick to access. With that, many smaller businesses use it as a simple way to share updates on their business here. In addition, people discuss a broad range of topics that spans everything from consumer goods to high-tech and IT. While proving ROI for Twitter activities might be challenging, this platform can still offer a lot for businesses of all sizes and should not be ignored. Try it out and see how it works for you.
For most IT firms, LinkedIn will likely provide the most direct path to return on invested time and effort. Establishing connections, sharing useful, business or IT-focused information will yield much greater results when it’s targeted toward professionals. And using paid promotion, you can even select certain types of people in various categories of business, so your message gets to decision-makers who could hire you or buy your products and services. Definitely don’t miss out on this platform!
For most, Google+ seems like a total waste. It has struggled to gain the same adoption and popularity as its larger rivals and posting there may not be incredibly effective. But having a presence on Google+ does have one awesome benefit: you’ll appear more prominently when a customer does a Google search for your company. Instead of a generic listing, you get a detailed listing that includes your address, reviews, photos, and other information. This way, you can offer more at-a-glance information for people while also gaining more visibility.
General Strategy Tips
Once you know your goals and once you decide which platforms you’ll focus on to achieve them, there are still questions about what to share, when, and so forth. Here are some general tips for social media posting:
- Post regularly. Consistency is key. Check out this great Hubspot post for info on how frequently to post on social platforms.
- Set a schedule. Tools like Hubspot, Hootsuite, and Buffer let you schedule your social posts ahead of time.
- Be engaging. Be interesting, enthusiastic, and friendly – put the “social” in social media. Don’t use social media to only highlight your own services and try to sell. It won’t work!
- Write like a human. Set buzzwords and jargon aside. Remember, you’re a human writing to humans.
- Post original content. Posting a link to an interesting article is great, but you can magnify the impact you’ll have if you develop and share original content and insights that link to your blog.
- Have some variety. Posting the same things the same way isn’t engaging. Aim for variety and don’t be afraid to try images, videos, GIFs, and other compelling content.
- Track ROI. Develop a way to track followers and leads you get from social media. See this killer post for more on how to measure social media ROI.
Stick with It!
Like many marketing strategies, social media requires ongoing investment in time and effort. The important thing is to maintain consistency, understand what garners the most engagement, track new likes and follows, and continue adapting your strategy as you go along. Social media is an incredibly powerful business tool and it can also be a blast developing engaging content for people. Don’t be afraid to try something new and see what happens—your bold idea might grab the attention of your next great client.