SMART tips on developing Small Business Social Media Strategy

Many years ago, most businesses were local brick-and-mortars that relied on door-to-door marketing to engage the public. As technology evolved, motion pictures, radio and television opened up new avenues for business marketing, eventually expanding to include direct mail, telemarketing, print advertising, trade shows and e-mail blasts. While these practices have proven successful over the years, many of today’s consumers now view them as intrusive and have consequently become quite savvy at ignoring traditional marketing attempts.

Now we have social media, a Web-based approach to marketing that helps small businesses grow organically online. The term “social media” refers to various Web sites where people connect, interact and share online. Today, 50% of adults worldwide use some form of social media via computers, smartphones, tablets, game consoles, Internet-enabled TVs, handheld music players, and e-readers.

Consider these statistics:

-One billion people actively use Facebook every month

-500,000 people use Twitter every month

-Google’s +1 button is used 2+ billion times each day

-5 million photos are uploaded to Instagram every hour

-3,600 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every hour

You don’t have to be a Fortune 100 company to take advantage of social media, but as the statistics demonstrate, today’s businesses are actively using social media. With so many people engaging in social media, it is difficult to ignore its potential to help businesses reach out to new and existing clients.

Small businesses can implement social media strategies to reach and engage existing and potential clients, while spreading the word about their products and services. In today’s connected world, where customers research purchases online and seek recommendations from friends and family, it is in the best interest of most small businesses to have a vibrant and interactive social media presence.

The first step in creating a social media strategy for your small business is to define your goals. What do you want to achieve through social media? How will you use social media to promote your business? For example, you may want to use social media to:

-Develop branding purposes

-Interact with your audience

-Share coupons and offers

-Drive traffic to your Web site

-Market a new line of products

Get SMART

When making your social media goals, it can be helpful to take an organized approach to ensure your goals are both concise and realistic. The “SMART” approach to goal setting is described more in-depth in Paul J. Meyer’s 2003 book “Attitude is everything,” and can be applied to your small business and social media activities. According to Meyer, the SMART goals are:

Specific

Goals should be specific and state exactly what it is that you want to accomplish. It is difficult, if not impossible, to reach a goal that is not clearly defined. Specific goals address:

Who – who will be involved in reaching the goal?
What – what is it that I want to accomplish?
When – what is the timeframe for reaching the goal?
Where – what is the venue for accomplishing the goal?
Why – what reason or purpose do I have for accomplishing the goal?
Which – any requirements and constraints

Measurable

Goals should be measurable so that you know when you’ve met the goal. One measure of success in social media is the number of comments, followers, retweets, likes or Web visits you achieve during a specified period of time.

Attainable

Goals should be attainable and reasonable. While there is no sense setting a goal that is impossible to reach, it makes a lot of sense to set one that will make you work hard and provide a challenge. Even if you have huge plans for the future, it is important to set attainable goals now that act as stepping stones to your long-term, larger goals.

Relevant

Goals should be relevant, consistent with other established goals and timely for your business. A goal that is “relevant”, matches your other efforts, is worthwhile and is appropriate at this time. It is important to consider, “Does this goal matter?” If not, it may be a waste of time, effort and resources to try to accomplish the goal. Goals should matter and help you reach both intermediate and long-term plans.

Timely

A goal should be timely and include a “deadline” for reaching the goal. “I want to have 10,000 Twitter followers” is much less meaningful than “I want to have 10,000 Twitter followers by the end of the second quarter of 2017.” If you have all the time in the world (i.e., no deadline) to reach your goal, you will be under no pressure to reach the goal and, as a result, may not ever be able to cross that goal off your list. Set a date and do everything possible to reach your goal by then.

A good example of a SMART goal may sound like, “I want to add 300 new fans each month during the second quarter of 2017.” At the end of the Q2, you will be able to tell if you’ve met your goal or not. You will also be able to measure how you are progressing toward your goal at the end of each month. Regardless of the methodology used to create goals, you will need to define what you want to accomplish with social media. Your goal should be something specific and measurable so that you will know the moment you’ve reached it.