Social Media Best Practices for Small Businesses in 2015

Social media has turned marketing into a cakewalk. OK; maybe a vast overstatement. But I think we can all agree that gone are the days when expensive catalogs, full color ads, or direct mail postcards were necessary to convey your message. Rather than spending boatloads of time and money on designing, printing, and mailing, your message can be sent to the masses with a click of a mouse, at little cost.

But social media must be used thoughtfully in order to be effective. Consider these best ideas to make the internet work for you.

Plan your message

Consider your target market as you carefully craft your message. Create a message that your ideal customer finds compelling.

Plan your share

Timely posting will ensure your reach as much of your market as possible. Remember that frequent, but relevant posting can create more consistent traffic and increased revenue.

Create a consistent message

Make sure your message translates across multiple social media outlets. Design techniques should appear consistent and readable on smartphones, tablets, and computers.

Use links, videos or images

A picture is worth a thousand words. Or at least 140 characters. Attractive photographs of merchandise or well-performed services can express more than paragraphs of eloquent descriptions. Links allow patrons to engage in your online presence, which often translates to increased favorable public perception, and increased revenue.

Commit to the process

Your social media presence is only as good as your last post, tweet or hashtag. Create a schedule of significant dates in your business. Plan thoughtful messages to share related to those events. Then fill in those days in between by sharing information that will contribute to interest in your upcoming event. If your travel agency is offering a Caribbean cruise special in July, share pictures of relevant Caribbean beaches, popular dance crazes on cruise ships, or Caribbean food trends in June. If your fall merchandise will feature an unexpected color or print, start posting other examples in summer to train your client to expect, and want, those items.

Track your progress

Any number of software applications will allow you to track your posts, your readers, and their interests. Relevant demographic information can be collected to better design future messages. Use this information to identify potential market sectors. These applications can track post popularity so you can better mimic successful marketing messages or deliveries. Then use this statistical data to calendar, and track, efforts that have increased online traffic, brick-and-mortar traffic or revenue.

Explore innovative applications

Software changes more frequently than gas prices. Innovation allows small business owners to expand how social media can be effective. Try these, for instance:

SocialCentiv searches tweets or posts for keywords that are relevant to your product and geographic location. Then flags you so that you can reach out to those potential customers with targeted messages inviting new customers to your store or site.

Hootsuite is a very cost-effective social media management tool that allows you to create and schedule posts, track users, collect client data, and track campaigns, all through a user-friendly interface.

Webimax helps even the newest tweeter seem like an old pro by creating customized campaigns to be used across any number of social media outlets. Campaigns are created by product or service and client base. Webimax can also help in designing search engine marketing campaigns and campaign evaluation.

LocalVox takes the coaching concept one step further by designing campaigns to target online and brick-and-mortar traffic. Campaigns use social media and traditional outlets to create a uniform campaign for your small business.

The internet has made marketing your small business as easy as ever. By investing some time, and a little money, you can put the internet to work for your small business.