Do you have customers who’ve liked your small business on Facebook? Followed you on Twitter? Pinned you on Pinterest? Are clients and prospects connected to you on LinkedIn? Then the holidays are the perfect time for you to post, tweet, pin, and connect right back.
When it comes to holiday marketing, social media is the small business powerhouse in 2014.
If you’ve been working on your social media activities, you’ve got a built-in following to leverage throughout this all-important holiday season. Even if you’ve been slow to get on the social media bandwagon, the holidays give you the perfect reason to increase your social media activities.
Social media is a powerful tool for deepening relationships exactly when you want customers to remember you most. Here are five keys to holiday small business social media success:
1. Create meaningful content
The key to success with any social media marketing is creating content that resonates with your followers. If you have something to share that’s funny or inspirational – or pictures of cute animals — your followers are likely to hit the “share” button, getting your name and message out to their friends. But not many small businesses can manage to create viral content. Don’t worry. Even if all you post are updates on discounts, new products or services, or even holiday hours, if your customers are interested in that information, it will catch their attention.
Keep these tips in mind when crafting your posts:
• Be brief – shorter is almost always better
• Use active language
• Ask questions: “Is this on your wish list?”
• Encourage shares with wording like “Share it if you want it!”
• Link to a page on your website
2. Use pictures. Data shows that pictures significantly increase interaction on every social media platform. So find photos or videos to accompany every Facebook or Pinterest post, and many of your Twitter and LinkedIn posts. And, of course, if you use Instagram, you’ll be using pictures continually. Take pictures yourself or find inexpensive pictures from one of the many stock photography sites.
3. Be efficient. Your time is always valuable, but it’s even more in demand during the busy holiday season. So use a social media management tool, like Hootsuite (www.hootsuite.com) to pre-post and schedule all your social media activities. From the Hootsuite dashboard, you can write posts for Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Instagram, WordPress, and other sites.
4. Choose the best platform. You can be overwhelmed with the number of social media platforms out there, so choose the one or two best social media sites for your business and stick with those. Where are your customers or clients? Or prospects? For most B2C (business-to-consumer) companies, I think Facebook works the best. It’s the most powerful in terms of narrowly targeting exactly the kind of customers you want to reach. If you’re going for a B2B (business-to-business) clientele, LinkedIn may be your best bet.
5. Post at the right time and the right amount. How much you should post depends on your small business and your audience, but as a general rule, post weekdays, midday, Eastern time. Post to Facebook three to five times a week, on LinkedIn once a week, on Twitter a few times a day.
To help you plan your holiday social media strategy, download my free worksheet, “My Holiday Social Media Strategy.” You can find it and other helpful worksheets and advice in my “2014 Small Business Holiday Success Guide.” Download it here.You may feel overwhelmed by social media—but I want you to relax and just do it! While I do think you should take time to craft great posts, I also don’t want you to worry so much about being perfect that you never get started.
So, after you finish reading this column, I want you to do something right away: Take out your phone, take a picture of something you want to sell or a picture of something at your place of business and post it on the social media site you’ve chosen. If you’re on Facebook, you might also want to spend a few dollars boosting your post so it reaches more people. The important thing is to get started, right now, while the holiday season is in full swing.
Copyright, Rhonda Abrams, 2014
This article originally ran in USAToday on December 5, 2014 http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/small business/2014/12/03/small-business-columnist-strategies-holiday-social-media/19809359/