The Orange County Social Media Marketing Quick Start Guide for Small Businesses

Almost nothing in Social Media Marketing is fast. Though at some point in the future you will see fast results, the lead up to that moment can seem like it’s slow going.

Don’t let that stop you.

We’ve spoken to small business owners with hundreds of friends on Facebook and yet no idea how to use Social Media for Marketing. This is the fastest, most effective way we could come up with, for getting started, and for getting something out of it. It shouldn’t take more time than regular, offline marketing and other than the person or persons you’re paying to manage it, it shouldn’t take more money either.

For starters, understand the “WHY?” in the “why do Social Media Marketing?” question.

Marketing is about Environment – not promoting sales. In an environment where you’re business is well liked, your sales will improve. In an environment where you’re just trying to sell things, you’re going to be 1) disliked and 2) selling nothing.

1) Know Your Customer Base

And not in a vague way either. Write down everything you know about all of them: ages, genders, income levels, interests and jobs. And in case you’re selling strictly B2B, do this again, anyway, as punishment for thinking you don’t have to do it.

That’s right. B2B is, in many ways, even more social than B2C.

Write down your customer description – even if you have to meld together relatively disparate “types” of customers.  Come up with multiple images to represent them and treat these personas as the ultimate customer for whom you’d do anything.

2) Select Your Channels

You can’t do all of social media and you shouldn’t concentrate on just one either. You should have a website with a blog – already and you should treat both as though they are the home base from which your company is venturing out. For most B2C companies, that will mean they are moving out onto Facebook, Google+ and perhaps two or three others. B2B companies will choose LinkedIn, Google+ and perhaps two or three others.

3) Optimize for Sharing

Work with your webmaster to make sure that all of your online content is easily sharable and that it’s getting out onto all of the social channels you’ve selected above. Work with a copywriter to make sure your content is worth sharing. Many micro and small business will employ a decent writer to both create content and to manage the sharing and social outreach you’ll do. It’s a good plan, but if you’re a bit bigger you might hire a freelance writer and then have any number of employees managing the social interactions.

4) Listen Before Anything Else

Those same employees should be trained to respond quickly and professionally to any and all messages you receive through any channel. But don’t put sales people in that group. On the contrary, Social Media as an extension of customer service works far better.

5) Map Out a Month of Posts

Again, this can come down to your copywriter, and while some things can and should be posted ad hoc, or instantaneously, a little planning goes a long way too. It’s ok to plan on big original posts a few days a week and to share “curated” content that’s far easier on other days.

Make sure you’re “liking” lots of other businesses posts and pages, too.

6) Refine

Figure out what’s working and do more of it. But don’t drop any of the above. You’ll quickly begin to see that simply having your name and brand out there will improve your overall business position. It doesn’t mean you’ll see fast business results, but as things develop, and each of your profiles is optimized and managed properly, people will appreciate the environment you’re creating, and your participation in the bigger environment where they are.

Remember too that Google+ while not a successful social platform is still important. Gathering and maintaining followers there will help with your search engine results if not exactly your page ranks.