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8 must-read tips for your small business.
CA-biz-social-mediaSocial media isn’t just a way to promote your products — it’s a way to showcase your expertise in an industry, listen to what your customers want, and celebrate successes along the way. But how can you make sure you’re making the most of your social media strategy? Boost your presence with these 8 tips:

  1. Be strategic with your platforms: You need to consider which platforms can boost your brand power, and which ones may not deliver the same ROI. While Facebook®* is the leading social network (with 1.4 billion users and counting), it’s a good idea to learn how to use different platforms for different purposes. Here’s an overview:
  • Facebook®*: Ideal for building potential client relationships, advertising products, creating events and targeting customers through paid posts.
  • Twitter®† & LinkedIn®‡: If you want to be a thought leader in your industry, share relevant content regularly. Also, get inspired by these Twitter success stories, which you can filter by industry.
  • Instagram®** & Pinterest®††: These aspirational platforms work well for travel, food, fashion and luxury goods, as you can share fun and engaging photos. You can also add #hashtags to help people find your content.
  • Others: If you’re in the retail industry, don’t forget about Polyvore®‡‡, which generated an average $66.75 per order for Shopify®*†. Learn more via this Shopify infographic. Also, if you’re creating videos, be sure to post them to YouTube®*‡, which reports that video content consistently converts at 1.16 per cent.
    Creating and posting content takes time, so be mindful of the resources you need to devote to each platform. Start with ones that resonate most with your brand, and seek out tools (such as HootSuite®†‡) to help manage a multi-platform presence as you see fit. 

  1. Create content with purpose: If you want to engage your customers, you need to share content they’ll be eager to read. While it’s important to post useful updates (such as holiday hours), also think about content that will set you apart from the competition, such as testimonials and how-to videos. Consider experimenting with video and photography, too — you don’t necessarily need to hire an expert, just grab your smartphone and get creative (check out these tips for photos and videos). For more insight on writing for social, read these 9 Dos and Don’ts.
  1. Plot out your posts: You’ve established what you’re going to post, but what about when? Some social platforms require more frequent posting (hello, Twitter), and you want to make sure you don’t let any social media profiles gather dust. The solution? Create a plan — even an informal posting schedule or calendar will help — to ensure your brand has a consistent, frequent voice. Consider SocialFlow, which uses real-time data to determine what to post and when.
  1. Interact with your customers: If someone tweets about liking your product or post, thank them. By replying to customers, you can open up the conversation and create a sense of community. On the flipside, if someone complains, acknowledge their comment (when appropriate) in a polite and respectful way and offer a solution. Many companies fear backlash from customers via social media, but you can actually use it as an opportunity to control the conversation surrounding your brand.
  1. Engage multiple contributors: The person who manages your company’s social media accounts doesn’t have to be the only one who contributes. Depending on your business, you may want to give customers insight into the behind-the-scenes operations and the people who bring things together. For example, if you own an online boutique, you can share your Instagram account with the designers, buyers, editors and shipping team.
    Tip: Create a strong password and change it frequently — especially when an employee leaves. Or, look into Hootsuite, which allows multiple users to contribute to an account without having to share a password. This way, many may contribute, but you can revoke access at any time.
  1. Measure effectiveness: Your first step is to understand what you’re measuring. For example, you may be more interested in driving clicks to your website than general Facebook likes. On Instagram, you might want customers to tag their friends so you can gain more followers and up your engagement rate. Think about what’s important to your brand, and then track those analytics through programs such as Hootsuite and Google Analytics®†*. Have a budget? Consider hiring an outside company to monitor, manage and analyze your data.
  1. Play by the rules: It’s important to know the rules and regulations governing the use of social media. Facebook and Twitter both have guidelines, which may impact how you’d execute marketing campaigns such as contests and giveaways. Additionally, know your market. Some industries — such as financial services — are governed by more strict regulations, so check with a legal representative for guidance if you have questions.
  1. Give it time: Once you’ve created and begun enacting a comprehensive posting plan, be patient. It’s all about testing and learning, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t get every post right the first time. Getting a big-picture view of what posts and methods can most successfully boost your bottom line may take some time, but social media will help continuously promote your company’s personality — and build trust with customers.

If you’re looking for more resources, visit Facebook’s business section, packed with best practices and case studies, and Twitter’s small business blog.
For more tips on social media management tools, read 28 tech tools for small businesses.
®* Registered trademark of Facebook, Inc.
®† Registered trademark of Twitter, Inc.
®‡ Registered trademark of LinkedIn Corp.
®** Registered trademark of Instagram, Inc.
®†† Registered trademark of Pinterest, Inc.
®‡‡ Registered trademark of Polyvore, Inc.
®*† Registered trademark of Shopify Inc.
®*‡ Registered trademark of Google Inc.
®†‡ Registered trademark of Hootsuite Media Inc.
®†* Registered trademark of Google Inc.


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