To make this guide as useful as possible we start with a couple ground rules and assumptions.
First, within this guide we'll briefly address both social media platforms and directory listings. Directory listings on sites like Yelp, Houzz, ZocDoc and others are not technically social media sites however they are part of the broader online presence equation and, as such, we reference them.
Second, a social media account that is inactive is effectively worthless - in some cases worse than worthless because it makes it appear as though a live business may have folded and closed it's doors. Obviously, not ideal.
Next, this guide is meant as a starting point for businesses new to social media or those renewing their interest in social media. This is not meant to be comprehensive or exhaustive in any way.
Finally, and most importantly, if you don't have a website or your website isn't an effective anchor to your overall marketing efforts then you should probably spend more time getting that corrected before investing much effort in just about anything else. More on this below.
You'll find links to related and relevant resources peppered throughout, they will open in a new tab.
Social Media has matured as a channel over the last decade but it's still viewed as a sexy marketing channel by many business owners.
As such, we wanted to provide a step-by-step guide to building your social media presence, avoid common pitfalls, and ensure you have proper expectations.
Remember, social media is no longer a megaphone but a way to build an authentic brand.
Most businesses should create their Google My Business account and a Facebook Page as a starting point.
As such, you'll want to be sure to include the following:
You have a "Profile" while your business or organization has a "Page"... a page can have many different people administering it but it represents an organization. Learn about Page Roles here.
This bears repeating, make sure your website is included on your Facebook page and that your descriptions (About, services etc) match what's listed on your website.
When business information is inconsistent it looks bad and hurts you with Google. Plus, it means you literally rewrote content about your business and that's just a waste of time.
You'll also want to be sure and complete the following steps before you mark "Setup Facebook Page" complete:
Unlike your Google My Business account, your Facebook page has very little value if you're not posting or sharing content.
This may sound daunting but it should be fun and easy.
One quick note, while the vast majority of your interactions with people will happen on their newsfeed, people will likely visit your page to "Like" it and follow you and you want that to be a positive, professional impression.
Content will be comprised of 3 basic types:
Some content you'll share to Facebook from your blog while others you'll post directly, you can read about when to do each here.
Creating content can sound complicated and time-consuming but there are many types of effective content you can quickly create.
Remember, content you create on your "blog" has many benefits: it's great for Search Engine Optimization (SEO), sharing on your email newsletter, sharing by you OR website visitors to social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc), it acts as a sort of "living portfolio" and thus it's valuable to website visitors regardless of where they come from. One piece of content has many benefits.
Content reshares are things you'll share from other pages, could be friendly businesses or clients, the local chamber, a nonprofit you support etc. This content is often community oriented and a form of curation that shows people more of "who" you are.
You'll get more mileage out of posts that are already getting high engagement - likes, shares, comments etc - and it's a quick way to have more to relevant content share with your audience.
Quick-Hitters on the other hand are original content pieces but tend to be less substantial i.e. not worthy of living on your own website. Often these may be fun pictures with simple captions that may get a quick reaction from your fans but don't warrant deeper thought.
These give you an opportunity to engage other pages or people on Facebook, as you can see in the example from our page, and they work to keep your page lively and fresh.
Facebook Live Video runs natively on Facebook and starts with a live broadcast, though you can embed it on your website after the fact if you'd like (like we've done here). This is a great way to get significantly more organic reach which can help you build your fanbase and brand.
These live videos are great ways to communicate your brand values and personality even if they're not directly related to your products or services.
There are many facets to growing your fanbase and it's important to note that just because someone likes your page doesn't mean they see your posts. Producing consistently relevant and engaging content maximizes your likelihood of reaching your fans, their friends, and other locals.
Don't forget these best-practices:
Don't rapid fire your shares, schedule Facebook posts out at least 3-4 hours apart. You'll reach more people plus your fans don't really want to hear from you that often.
Avoid flushing money down the drain, know when to boost posts and what to expect and remember to test different target audiences, post types and durations.
Social networking advertising is like hanging signs on the walls of a house during a party and sending sales reps to mingle with the crowd... the people at the party, who are sharing stories and photos and news and gossip, are not at the party because they want to buy something...they want to socialize.
Amidst the never ending onslaught of shiny objects (new social networking platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, and the like) a nearly untapped opportunities exists for local businesses to more fully leverage their existing social network of relationships.
Part of your social media efforts should be put toward unleashing the power of your connections to increase your reach and generate more local awareness. From online referral network, to chamber membership or your community involvement with charities or nonprofits, highlighting these authentic relationships can be valuable for you and them.
Locable's Local Connections tools are Free Referral, Endorsement and Local Recognition Tools for Local Businesses, Nonprofits and Causes. Best of all, the same content you create for social media can be used here - automatically!