This is the final 4th part of my series on Small Business Social Media Strategy. I hope you have enjoyed the series and found the information helpful.
In this part I am going to discuss Social Media Engagement and finally Monetisation.
Social Media Engagement
Now I would like to address the integration of your website to the wider social web and how you can use this.
As of writing, Facebook is believed to have 800 million members. This makes it by far and away the largest social media community on the internet. It has moved far beyond the original platform for University students and teenagers. While you may already have a personal page on Facebook, you need to set up a page for your business and this should contain prominent links back to your website. Remember Hub and Spoke.
Your Webpage should enable your potential customers to connect to your site on Facebook but not prominently. More important is to provide them with the opportunity to “Like” your facebook page and therefore connect to you. You can of course like their Facebook pages too.
As you build your presence on Social Media, you should enable these platforms to post to Facebook so that you are able to automate and share your information on Facebook as you create it else where.
This is a relatively new platform, only launched in June 2011. Despite this the take up has been very impressive and the fact that it is part of the Google Product Suite makes it an essential part of your Social Media Engagement strategy.
Here you can post comments, photos and video. Your connections are put into “Circles” which enable you follow their comments in a filtered way. This makes Google Plus a little like a hybrid between Facebook and Twitter.
From a search point of view, Google Plus activity is now included in the Google Search results so from a findability perspective, Google Plus is again an essential component.
Having a YouTube channel has had a major and very positive impact on my website. I have covered the content creation part of this earlier in this article. From an engagement perspective, there is nothing more compelling than video and therefore you should build this into your marketing mix as soon as possible.
One way to do this is to take the customer questions list your prepared earlier and create some short (3 minute) “How to” videos for your viewers to learn from. These videos can be connected to Twitter, appear on your Facebook page and be embedded in your blog.
It is important to ensure that you properly title the videos, provide a good description with links, use annotations and captions, as well as tags. These are important because the search engines, primarily Google (who owns YouTube) cannot search on the content in the video itself but relies on the data you surround the video with to understand what it is about.
This platform is all about conversation. A Tweet is a short message of 140 characters. When you set up your account you select a name which is found used on Twitter with an @ infront of it. I am @jbdcolley. Go and find me and please follow me. This means that you will then be able to see my “Tweets” when I post them and they will appear in your “Twitter Stream”. If you follow me, I will follow you back.
When you both follow each other you can send Direct Messages between you known as DMs.
In your messages you can include links to websites, photos, videos and blog posts. In fact just about anything that appears on the web.
Twitter has an excellent search function which allows you to find people and topics. # (HashTags) are used to enable you to make comments on a particular subject findable. When I want to Tweet out something that I think might be of interest to the general Ecademy social media network I use the #ecademy.
By connecting Twitter to some of your other Social Media presences, you can let your followers know when you post somthing or update something else where.
This is predominantly a “business” rather than “social” social network. Think about it in simple terms like a good place to post your CV and what you are currently doing in business. It is also a very capable connection system for your business contacts and enables you to find people beyond your existing network of contacts and reach out to them though people who are connected to you.
LinkedIn integrates well with Blogs, Twitter, Facebook and is therefore another platform which can capture and share your activity elsewhere on the internet. It makes you therefore an easy person to find which from an engagement perspective is an excellent thing.
LinkedIn has a well developed structure of Groups, some open, some closed and some by invitation only. These groups enable you to join a conversation with other people with a similar interest in the topic and who you may not yet know. By contributing to the discussion in a group you get a chance to learn who these people are and connect with them through the Group and in due course, personally.
I want to come back at the end to your website. I cannot stress how important it is to focus your activities on a site which you own and control – and back up regularly. If one of the other social media platforms changes its terms and conditions, is bought or closed down you may lose some or all of your investment of time and content as a result.
On your own site, once you have your potential customer engaged there, you control the whole environment. Your visitor will not be bombarded with spurious advertising, unless you expose them to it and you will not be competing for their attention from content generated by others.
Key Tip: Hub and Spoke!
In this final section, I would like to address the subject of selling on the internet and cover how you can use your website to make money, directly and indirectly, from your site’s visitors.
What are you selling?
We need to start with the current products and services your business currently offers. Whatever these are and what ever the scale, a Social Media Engagement Strategy is essential. The proportion of business transaction which involve some form of online/internet activity is increasing all the time and you cannot afford to ignore this.
The nature of your products and service and the scale of your business will dictate the tactics you use and this requires a more in depth look and approach.
What ever you are currently selling, the option to add an online component has never been easier. You can see through eBay, on Amazon or through your own site. If you sell through your own site you will need to set up all the ecommerce functionality including shopping carts and the ability to take money. You can use PayPal for the latter. If this is too difficult there are platforms such as Shopify which set it all up for you. You will need to make sure that you can organise the logistics for the fulfillment of orders.
Bricks and Mortar
If you only have a “bricks and mortar” presence, i.e. a shop, you can still use your internet strategy to drive traffic – people – to your shop. This can be done with offers and coupons. I would be very careful about using Groupon if you are a small business. There have been very successful deals on Groupon but given that you have to put out an amazing offer and then pay Groupon too, you can find yourself making a substantial loss on the offer.
One of the easiest ways to monetise your website is to sell information products, ebooks and other documents to your potential customers. You may have an amazing guide or directory to offer to your potential customers and charge for it. One of the advantages of this is that you can embed lots of links to your site in the document and improve your internet findability.
Affiliates and Commissions
If you have partners with whom you cooperate, you can set up affiliate relationships with them which will enable you to earn a commission if you send traffic from your site to their site and the visitor subsequently buys something on their site.
This is probably the most important part of the whole strategy and a good point to end on. If you enable a successful Social Media Strategy you will hopefully increase the number of visits to your website and capture the name and email address of your potential customer. This will enable you to start the customer conversion process with them and in time do business with them.
You should not worry about selling something to these visitors straight away. Building online trust is a process that takes time and taking a too aggressive stance too early can be self defeating.