Small businesses are beginning to look at social media and bloggers to help reach a very targeted audience, but many are struggling when it comes to knowing how to tap into the power of these user-generated content networks. Social media requires a different plan of action from most other advertising media.
So how can small businesses better reach and engage their target audience?
Know your marketing goals. Be careful not to get roped into helming a social media marketing effort simply because it’s trendy. Before embarking on these initiatives, take the time to understand what you want from your ad spend. How do you want creators and consumers of social media to respond to your ad efforts? What is their ideal experience?
Rethink the definition of marketing communications. Social media is much more than another way to communicate with your target market. It’s a way for your customers to trade information that helps them make better decisions and take cues from other consumers they trust. For a social media-based ad campaign to be successful, it needs to be based on authentic interactions at every stage of the customer life cycle, not just when you’re pushing messages out to them.
Find the influencers. You can’t plan an online advertising strategy until you know how to reach an audience that’s primed to hear your messages. You need to identify where the conversations that connect to your marketing goals are taking place and who is shaping those conversations. Rather than first searching for advertising targets and then deciding where and when to advertise, the process begins by determining what’s being said and figuring out who is saying it.
President and CEO
Want to improve the way you run your business? Entrepreneurs, academics, and consultants from diverse industries offer practical advice on a variety of topics each business day.
To submit a tip for consideration, first check our archive of previous tips to make sure you're not repeating a tip someone has already contributed. Then send the tip to Small Business channel contributor Michelle Dammon Loyalka. Because of the volume of material she receives, she may not respond to each individual.