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A Guide to Social Media Optimization for Small Businesses

By this point in time, we all know how important social media is to modern marketing campaigns. In July of 2012 alone, all Americans combined spent 121 billion minutes on social media sites (that would be six and a half hours per person). And that’s just one month!

Like it or not, social media has become one of our primary modes of communication, and businesses need to know how to reach out to their customer base through online channels.

Of course, you can’t just apply a one-size-fits-all formula to all social media channels and call it a day. All the major sites have a different tone and aesthetic, and you need to figure out how to match that tone in order to appeal to the site’s users. Here is a brief breakdown of some of the things you should keep in mind with the most popular social sites.

Facebook

Although Facebook no longer holds an overwhelming monopoly in the social media universe, it is still the most popular social site in the world, and it’s a good place to start building up some recognition for your brand.

Facebook is a relatively laid back channel, and it’s a good place to give your business a human voice and directly interact with potential customers or clients. Your business’s Facebook page should include photos, regular status updates, and if possible, videos. Try to post content that is relevant to your industry and that your customer base would find interesting. You can share news stories, lists, updates about new products, or even questions for other Facebook users to answer.

The key with Facebook is to directly engage with other users and encourage conversations. Your posts will be more likely to show up on other people’s news feeds if they have more likes, comments, and shares. Ask others to share some of your content, and be sure to like, comment on, and share other people’s content as well. Remember – Facebook is a living, evolving thing, not just a billboard for your company.

Twitter

Twitter is another channel that’s designed to encourage conversations between users. Not only can you Tweet your own 140-character-or-less-content, you can retweet other’s posts, follow users, and respond to questions. It’s also a site that rewards frequency; if you only tweet once every couple of days, your tweets are likely to slip under the radar, but if you tweet multiple times every day and include relevant hashtags, new customers are more likely to find you.

These are the types of tweets you should regularly be posting:

  • Things that include links to your main site or other social media channels
  • Things that include links to press releases about your business or that are relevant to your industry
  • Retweets of posts from your customers, including questions that you want to answer
  • Links to articles with relevant information that your target audience will find useful

Twitter will also let you create and subscribe to lists, which are essentially organized groups of other Twitter users. The advantage of this is that you can generate list timelines that only show the past tweets of other people in that group. Create lists of contacts for your company, regulatory agencies for your industry, and industry influencers so that you can keep up with current trends.

Google+

Although it was a little slow to catch on, Google+ is steadily growing and is becoming more and more of an authority for individuals and businesses on the web. Potential customers may check out your Google+ page to learn basic information about your company, so treat this channel sort of like a professional business brochure. Include eye-catching (but relevant) images such as photos and infographics, and make sure your contact information is visible.

Your goal should be to post to Google+ 2-3 times per day and to encourage engagement the same way you do with Facebook and Twitter. You can use some of the same content that you use on sites like Twitter, but be sure to tailor it to the site. For example, you don’t need to use hashtags and abbreviations like RT (retweet) on Google+.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is social media for the professional community, so your profile should be more formal than on your other social channels—think resume instead of brochure. Make sure that you list all your business’ services and get recommendations to show that you already have a solid base of satisfied customers.

Just as you would with your resume, you need to regularly update LinkedIn when there are any changes to your business or services. You should also include a professional portrait so that other users can put a face to your company.

In addition to keeping your services and basic info updated on LinkedIn, you should aim to share content 1-3 times per day. Since this is a business community, share updates about your company’s completed projects, current projects, or relevant industry news.

Establishing a Presence across Platforms

Once you’ve created all your social media profiles, you need to keep on top of them to build brand awareness and remain relevant. Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your social media channels.

Strive for consistent branding. Although each social media channel has a different layout and general appearance, there are some things that you should aim to keep consistent across all platforms. Make sure that you’re using the same images and brand logo on all your sites in order to be instantly recognizable and make the consumer feel confident that they’re interacting with the same brand.

Make updates a regular priority. If you haven’t already designated someone in your business to handle social media, you should consider doing that now. By having someone dedicated to regularly updating your social media channels, you’ll avoid having any of the platforms slip through the cracks.

Use a tool like HootSuite. HootSuite is a great online tool that lets you manage your social media accounts and post updates to multiple sites at the same time. Using this kind of resource can help you significantly cut down on the amount of time you spend working on social media each day.

Add keywords to your Google news homepage. Google will essentially let you save your searches now, so save keywords that are relevant to your industry in order to easily find news updates on your Google news homepage that you can then share through your social media channels.

8 thoughts on “A Guide to Social Media Optimization for Small Businesses”

  1. very nice post…really very informative for new blogger…
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    I also use many social network sites…

  2. Most of the thing do remain but the aspect of having a good layout and user friendly site has become the key thing in my eyes. so apart from posting good quality content; we need to focus on creating a good lay out for our blogs as well

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