Growing social media for your small business can seem daunting, particularly if you’ve not got any experience of making and running any sort of professional or personal profile. This is the final of three posts and will give you some more ideas about social media marketing strategy for small businesses.

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve given a brief introduction to Instagram and Twitter, described how to set up a profile and tips for growing your social media profiles. By now you’ll be familiar with social media and will know all about posting and hashtags. You’ll hopefully be starting to find new audiences. There are a few more things to keep in mind to improve your chances of success in the world of social media.

1. SMART goals

Posting content willy-nilly is one possible way to go about your social media strategy, especially if the word ‘strategy’ makes you inwardly weep. But, as with all marketing, you want to know how successful what you’re doing is, or whether you’re wasting your time. Developing some clear goals before you start can help you to work out what it is you’re working towards and how you can measure these.

In marketing the idea of SMART goals is well known. These are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-related.

One example would be that you want to increase clicks onto your website by 25% over the next six months. This is something where you have a specific goal (increasing clicks to website), which you can easily measure through Google Analytics. It also has the timeframe of the next six months. You’ll be able to work out whether this is something that is achievable and realistic as you go. The goal can always be modified if you realise that it’s neither of these things.

Open laptop with a blank screen

2. Make a list of hashtags to follow and use in your posts

When you’re doing this you will want to be conscious of a couple of key questions: Who are the audience you want to attract? – this will influence the hashtags you choose to use. If you want to attract an international audience you can think of synonyms to match the topic you are focusing on and can try hashtags in a different language. For #flower photography, you may also want to try #blumen, #flora, #jardin, etc.

This will also determine when you choose to make your posts live. If you want to attract more attention from people from the US, you will want to post when they are most active. So, the middle of the night will mean that your post will likely be swamped and lost. If you make a list as you go, it’s then much easier to copy and paste these in to your posts, instead of struggling to remember all the ones you’ve used before.

3. What feeling do you want to evoke?

Instagram posts tend to often have a pastel, almost dreamlike quality to them. How do you want to represent yourself and your small business and how can you represent this in images and text? In my hints and tips for growing Instagram post, I used the example of perfume adverts and how these manage to sell a feeling and a way of being, rather than just a smell. Thinking about how you want to market your small business is important to think about before you start on putting time into making graphics or scheduling any posts.

Is this the feeling you want to evoke?

4. Etiquette

Each platform has some unwritten rules which you’ll want to follow. Something which works on Instagram (like 30 hashtags posted in the comment section) doesn’t work on Twitter where you need to be more selective about which tags to use.

One unwritten rule for both Twitter and Instagram is that you should avoid following and then immediately unfollowing huge numbers of accounts. While it might be a bit of an ego-boost to get to the point where you have more followers than following, this is not the way to good engagement and a strong community on social media.

5. Mix up your content

Using a mixture of text, graphics and pictures will give you a more visually interesting timeline. Using apps and websites like Canva makes this really easy, all you need to do is pick a template, choose a background picture and then alter the font until the graphic looks how you’d like. It’s dead easy and importantly, there are loads of default templates are FREE to use.

6. Find groups you can contribute to

On both Twitter and Instagram there are groups and communities of people trying to do the same thing as you. If you can find these groups this can be a great way of spreading your message wider and lifting each other up. It might take a little while to work out where you can fit in and which groups you might want to join. One really easy way is to ask your fellow Tweeters and ‘grammers which groups they’re part of.

7. Try and test

One of the best ways of working out what works and what doesn’t is to try and test and see what works. This might be testing out different types of posts (images or text based) and different text to accompany these. Using analytics as well as the engagement on your posts, you can then see which is most successful and try to weave these types of posts in to your feed more often.

There we go, seven hints and tips to social media strategy for small businesses. By following these, hopefully you’ll soon be on your way to having a successful and engaging social media presence.

How are your social media profiles shaping up so far? Let me know in the comments below. You can also join me over on Twitter @wildingwriting or find me on Instagram.

Interested in the psychology of social media?

If you’re interested in why some of the tips I’ve listed work (or don’t work), you can read the psychology behind social influence online, or the reasons that bias may be stopping people’s attention translating into clicks on your website.