DEAR READERS: Companies of all kinds are finding it imperative to build a digital strategy to compete in a world where almost everyone is shopping and doing business online. How can small companies, including startups and those with just a few employees, get the kind of following on their websites and social media platforms that they’ll need to succeed?
It is a problem many companies are trying to get their arms around, according to everyone I reached out to. Here are a few tips to get started on the road to social media success:
Develop clearly defined goals. “Determine your objectives, whether they are enhancing brand awareness, generating leads or driving sales growth, as they will serve as guiding principles for developing your strategy,” suggests Dmitriy Shelepin CEO and head of SEO at Miromind.
Identify your ideal followers. That means going beyond demographics like gender and age, according to brand consultant Faith James, CEO of The Personal Branding Consultancy. “It’s important to go deeper into their psychographics — how they think, what motivates them, what their core desires are,” James says. “By focusing on the psychographics, you focus on the emotional connectors that build a stronger connection which goes beyond just the transactional ‘buy my stuff.’ ”
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Choose and prioritize platforms. Shelepin says it is crucial to choose platforms “that resonate with your desired audience and align with your business objectives,” and suggests focusing on one or two of those platforms “to deliver quality over quantity.”
Provide value. James says value can come in various forms, but stresses that it boils down to “helping your audience get a small win in the areas that are meaningful to them.
“If a hair salon is looking to grow their following, they might offer tips on their website and social media platforms such as ‘How to Have Your Hair Color Last Longer,’ ‘3 Tips on How to Beat the Humidity Frizz,’ or ‘How to Avoid Chlorine Damage While Swimming at the Pool,’ ” James says.
Value also can come by educating and informing your audience with things like educational blog posts that establish industry expertise, Shelepin adds.
Invite engagement. This is an essential step, James stresses. “In all instances, the business would invite the audience to share their own hair drama stories, share their own tricks they are using to make their hair color last longer, and invite the audience to submit their own questions about hair care,” James explains.
Build relationships. “Use social media to connect with customers, respond promptly, and share relevant content,” Shelepin says.
Don’t forget about email. It is a great way to maintain customer relationships and to deliver exclusive content and special offers like discounts, Shelepin explains.
Shelepin acknowledges that businesses won’t realize success in the digital realm overnight, but stresses that success is possible to achieve.
“It’s important to maintain consistency, in creating content and engaging on media platforms, as building an online presence takes time,” Shelepin concludes. “By adhering to these strategies, small businesses can cultivate a strong digital presence, enabling them to thrive in today’s competitive landscape.”
Kathleen Furore is a Chicago-based writer and editor. You can email her your career questions at [email protected].