Social Media Strategies for Small Business

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If Wal-Mart’s social media program has taught us anything, it’s that people will give the thumbs-up to just about anything on Facebook.  Whether the content is a brand-specific promotion or a completely arbitrary photo of a child jumping into a pile of leaves, Wal-Mart’s Facebook page garners millions of ‘likes’ and comments.

Adweek recently posted the story, “Walmart Proves People Will Literally Like Anything on Facebook”, highlighting the far-reaching engagement the corporation receives on its social media accounts. Granted, although a fair share is negative, Wal-Mart is certainly doing a good job of connecting with its audience.

But what does this mean for smaller brands? What is the best strategy for reaching a broader audience, getting people to engage and spreading the word about your products?

Here are six tips for creating and maintaining effective Facebook content to foster more engagement and brand recognition:

  1. Utilize the six posts that build engagement: Images, fill-in-the-blanks, photo captions, questions, tips and quotes are the half-dozen go-to posting formats when building your social media content. Visuals are always more and engaging than text – you want to show what your brand is, not just tell. Be creative with your posts but stick to the six core ones to ensure you have variety and aren’t being monotonous in your content.
  2. Invite your audience to participate: People like being told what to do on social media. Ask questions, invite your followers to write a caption for a photo or request that they “like” a post if they relate to it. By inviting the audience to participate, you are also motivating them to engage when they would normally scroll past you in their newsfeed. People are more apt to be captured when they see questioning words like “how”, “what”, “where” or “who.”
  3. Keep it short: People have short attention spans on social media. If your posts are paragraphs long and riddled with links, the audience will move on and may even un-follow your brand. As a rule of thumb, try to keep posts under 140 characters. That way, you can shift content from Facebook to Twitter with ease and still assure that the content isn’t overpowering.
  4. Avoid complicated wall posts: Again, people are less likely to respond to posts that are complicated with images, links, questions, etc. Stick to only one or two elements per post. If you have a photo, use only a few words of text, or better yet, create your own image containing the text you want. Don’t overwhelm your audience with all the bells and whistles. Be simple and to the point.
  5. Consider your audience: Consumers use social media as a way to connect with brands and test them out, so audience-relevant content is crucial. Be responsive and personal, and your audience is more likely to trust your brand. Tip: don’t be a robot on social media. Speak in a friendly, relaxed tone and use personal pronouns. By monitoring what your fans and followers say about you, social media gives you the chance to learn more about your audience, adapt your product to their needs and create brand ambassadors.
  6. Be creative: Experiment with contests, create polls or surveys, buy Facebook and Twitter ads, or set up a Pinterest account that links to your other networks.

Whether you’re a new brand just beginning to launch a social media program, or looking to better engage an already established set of followers, having a social media strategy is crucial for creating consistency in your overall messaging and reinforcing the identity of your brand.

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