Small Business & Social Media Series, Part 3: Content and Integration

 

Well, small business owner, you've already established your strategy and initial presence on a social channel, and you've read through some time- and money-saving tips.  In the third part of this four part series, you'll learn how to tie everything together by generating excellent content for your audience, socializing your website, and integrating your online and offline presence.

 

First things first.  We've all heard the expression content is king, and it's true -- excellent content drives fan engagement, page growth and traffic.  It's personal, and it's relevant to your brand and community's interests.  It's fresh, it's unique, and it's expressed in different forms -- text, photo, video, infographic.  Most importantly, it's available consistently for your community to digest, and it encourages them to keep coming back for more.

 

To produce excellent content, it's important that you plan out your schedule in advance, and that you take into consideration what network you're drafting content for.  Try writing out the next month of content mid-way through the prior month, and create a calendar in Excel or Google Docs to lay out all of the posts in an easy-to-read, visual way.  This way, you'll have something planned for each day, but if you find you have some extra time, you can always swap one of the planned posts for something more timely and relevant down the road.

Many networks, such as Facebook and Google+, are shifting their focus more toward images, video and other forms of rich media.  These posts are generally better received and achieve higher engagement rates than those that do not include visual content .  You should include strong and varied calls to action, whether that's clearly asking fans to enter a specific promotion your running, or more simply encouraging them to 'like' or 'share' a post with friends.  You should also incorporate outside articles, news stories, blogs and sources to keep information fresh and interesting.  Don't be scared to share pieces that do not directly mention your brand; it's okay to share items as long they're still relevant to your customers and target audience.

 

Once you've started to develop this excellent social presence, it's important to promote it via other online channels.  One way to do this is through website socialization -- you want your past, present and future customers to be able to seamlessly interact with you and the rest of your online community.  Link all of your social channels on your homepage for easy access, and make content more shareable by including 'share' buttons to all of your social networks (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc.) on each page.  You can even create a social hub/portal that acts as a one-stop-shop for your community: they can view everything that's going with your brand across Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and others.

Finally, it's crucial to integrate your online and offline presence.  Create in-store signage encouraging customers to connect with you in social media, and make sure to incorporate any online promotions in such signage.  Include information about your social presence on business cards and the bottoms of receipts.  Incorporate your social activity into presentations to remind the audience they can connect with and follow you and your brand for more information.  Lastly, whether it's through a promotion or the promise of great content, provide fans in real-life with incentive to engage with you online.

 

As you know, this was the third part of a four-post series.  The fourth and final post will feature a number of small businesses who pack a powerful social punch, and who incorporate many of the ideas discussed in this series.  Stay tuned!

 

How do you, as a small business, tie all of your social media efforts together?  Share with us in the comments below!

Want to learn more about how to build your content strategy? Let us teach you at SXSW in 2013. Vote for our workshop here!