The upcoming holiday season means customers are looking for gifts and services to give to those they love. Many small-business owners want to create a social media strategy to target this audience, but the time and resources required for an effective social media campaign may seem discouraging.
To tackle some of these concerns, we interviewed Diana Mitchell, owner of Simplified Social. She helps businesses elevate their brands and increase revenue through social media and digital marketing training and consulting services. Below you’ll find her answers to some of the top questions about social media strategy for the holidays.
Q: As small businesses tend to be limited in resources, why should they invest in social media?
A: I can’t imagine a situation today where a business shouldn’t invest in social media. At this point, it’s at a bare minimum a vetting tool. Before you ever get a call or meeting with a prospect, they are searching LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook (possibly others) to gauge your expertise and viability in the market.
If you have an internal marketing resource who can take on social media, that’s best. Developing a specific social strategy that aligns with the greater marketing and overarching business strategies is best. Don’t just “be on” social media—ensure that your investment is working toward your greater organizational goals.
While you’re spending on social media, it’s important to implement these tactics to ensure you’re actually generating return on your social investment:
- [Publish] great content on your website so that your social activity is sending traffic to your website.
- [Build] your website . . . to convert that social traffic into leads. If your website isn’t consistently adding leads into your sales funnel, you’re wasting your digital efforts.
Q: How can your social media strategy take advantage of the holiday season?
A: If you haven’t invested in an ongoing social strategy to this point, suddenly trying to jump in, build an audience, establish trust, and promote your business for the holidays will be a frustrating exercise in futility.
If you’ve already built an engaged social following and are looking to spread a little holiday cheer while promoting your business, there are a few things you can do:
- Consider a holiday promotion or contest: Get visual with photos and memes, and include video or Facebook Live to make your contest more engaging and genuine.
- Dig out your wallet: Your posts are likely only reaching about 2–5% of your audience organically. If you have an especially important holiday message or promotion to share, you’ll need to spend money to boost the post (as little as $5 will do it).
- Think about your end goal: What is it you want people to do? Use your website and other digital assets to create an experience that provides value while promoting your business.
Q: What’s the best way to incentivize potential customers through social media during the holidays?
A: Gary Vaynerchuk’s Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook is an excellent resource for any business executive or owner. The big message is to “hit” your customers three times with valuable content before asking them for anything. So launch a fun contest; share funny, informative, or otherwise engaging videos/memes/etc.; then chime in with “Hey, we’re having an event on Saturday—come wearing your Santa hat and get X, Y, Z” or something to that effect. Tie in your “right hook” with ongoing social promotions or contests for an even better return.
Q: There have been a lot of recent updates on various social networks—Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, and more. How can small businesses take advantage of these changes and updates?
A: The absolute best thing you can do is avoid jumping on the latest trends or fads. You might get a short-term boost of engagement or traffic, but if you can’t sustain the effort long term, it will be for naught.
If you don’t have a website built to convert, an ongoing content strategy, and a commitment to ongoing social strategy, you may get a few successes here or there but nothing that’s sustainable.
Build on the foundations noted above, then focus your efforts on mastering the “Big 3” in social: Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Once you’ve built a strong, engaged following on the “Big 3,” use your resources to carefully research which of the newer channels may have the most potential to reach and engage your audience. Put in the effort up front to ensure your customers are (1) actually there and (2) likely to engage with your brand on the channel. Then hire an expert to ensure you’re maximizing that investment, or devour training to ensure you really know how to get the most value from the tool.
Q: Are there any low-cost steps that small businesses can implement quickly on Facebook to help them stand out?
A: The absolute easiest, number one way to expand your social reach without spending a penny is literally staring you in the face: your employees. Most companies fail to take advantage of their team to spread the word, which could exponentially increase engagement and website traffic through social. But tread carefully—if your corporate culture doesn’t nurture sharing content and promoting your company outside of the nine-to-five, you may have some work to do to build and nurture a more team-oriented culture. Get your employees excited and proud to share your content on their personal social media channels, and you will absolutely get better results.
Q: Any tools you recommend?
A: Once you’ve got a responsive website that’s built to convert and you have consistently written and posted content to share on social, there are a few tools that can help you minimize your time investment:
- Hootsuite is the créme de la créme of basic social media tools. At $11 a month for a premium account, you can easily connect and schedule content for all your corporate social profiles.
- Feedly is a content curation tool that can help you source third-party content to share on social media. Feedly integrates with Hootsuite and other tools, saving you considerable time when scheduling out your content. A premium account is about $60 a year and provides significantly more value and functionality.
- MeetEdgar is a tool that enhances and gets the most value out of the content you post. If you have some room in your marketing budget, a basic account is about $50 a month but can pay in dividends. Edgar monitors your content to see which posts perform best. It posts your content at different times across multiple channels to maximize its visibility and production.
Jump-start Your Social Media Strategy for the Holidays
Get started on your social media strategy by sharing these tips with your coworkers and tweeting your additional suggestions @frontierbiz. By implementing the advice above, you can maximize the resources you have to promote your business during the holidays.