In today’s world, your small business has to be online. However, having a website or a blog isn’t enough to ensure success. Potential customers have to be able to find your website, and while this was once solely the realm of search engine marketing, the lines between SEO and social media continue to blur. The shift to social media allows you to connect with consumers on a more personal level, and it has search engine benefits, too.

 

Choose Your Platform

Perhaps one of the more daunting aspects of social media is choosing the avenues that will work best for your business. You have to know your demographic to determine which sites they’re using. Consider the following popular sites:

  • Facebook caters to just about everyone regardless of age, and you can easily create company pages.
  • Twitter is the network to use if you want to connect with other professionals, bloggers or celebrities.
  • LinkedIn offers an avenue for you to give and get advice from other pros.
  • Google+ content shows up in and above search results, which makes it a valuable asset.
  • Pinterest is a virtual pinboard where users add recipes, fitness tips and decor inspiration among others.
  • YouTube showcases far more than videos; vlogs, interviews, tutorials and Q&As all work well here.

Some people try to spread themselves too thin by joining every social network, but you don’t want to do that. Instead, choose the networks where your fans are. Remain active on those networks. An empty or forgotten profile is worse than no profile at all.

Think Smarter, Not Harder

Because you do want to participate in several networks and update those multiple times per day, consider an editorial calendar or a spreadsheet that you share with others in your company via online sharing sites. By using Google Drive and other free online storage services, small businesses can safely store and share company information in the cloud.

Repost links to your website several times per day with different captions. It’s unrealistic that you can spend all your time working social media, so tools that allow you to schedule theses updates are a life saver. Furthermore, tools that allow you to cross post will save both time and effort.

Consider TweetDeck, which connects to Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and more. Post scheduling is also a feature of this program. An alternative is HootSuite, which recently acquired Seesmic. Similar features are available, and if you set aside time to schedule posts every day or week, as well as check incoming activity, you’ll find yourself less overwhelmed.

Keywords in Social Media

Don’t think that keywords don’t matter in SMM, because this couldn’t be further from the truth. Facebook and Google+ directly impact your search ranking. If you’ve been at this for some time, you can go over the keywords that were successful in 2012, but you may have to rework your strategy if it fell short.

Use keywords when posting links on your social profiles. Word things in a way that will make users want to click over. Questions and top number lists are popular. Quotes and even incendiary thoughts get people engaged, but whatever you post should relate to your content or sum it up.

Google Analytics and other metric tools can give you insight into the keywords that are working for you and those that aren’t. Part of a successful social media campaign is keeping tracks of clicks, especially those that turn into purchases, newsletter signups or other actions that you’re striving for. Phase out less successful actions for others.