Creating your first social media strategy

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feature-social-media-sky-thumbEngaging in social media is essential if you run a start-up. It allows you to connect to your customers quickly and cheaply and find out what they think about your products and services.

 

It’s also a great way to sneak a peak at what your competitors are up to and position yourself as an authority in your sphere of influence.

 

Despite this, recent research highlighted the fact that Australian small businesses are continuing to overlook the importance of social media, with only 27% utilising this increasingly vital medium.

 

So where do you start when putting together a social media strategy? And why do you need one in the first place?

 

Matt Thomson from Connect Social Media says every business needs a social media strategy because their customers are already there.

 

He says the potential viral impact of social media, the ability to strengthen relationships and loyalty with customers and the real time nature of the medium makes it a fundamental communication tool.

 

“Social media is also a great way to target specific audiences,” he says.

 

For Rebekah Campbell, founder of Posse – a social media platform that allows users to share their favourite places – social media helps the business increase the number of people that use the site and its profile, as well as the merchants that form the site.

 

“It also means that when someone has a problem they can post a message on Facebook and seek advice about how to use the site,” she says.

 

Which social media channel works for you?

 

According to Selina Power, social media adviser for Bluewire Media, the best advice for social media newbies is to sign up, watch and listen.

 

“Watch conversations and identify trends, who is influential and how people are talking to each other. Start to look for the problems that you can solve for people and then when you are confident start to deliver the solution,” she says.

 

Once you’re familiar with the different social media channels the next step is to work out which platforms best reach your target customers.

 

Campbell’s advice is to work out which platforms your audience is using and base your decision on that.

 

“You join Posse through Facebook so that’s an important forum for us. We are also able to create different communities in different cities on Facebook,” she explains.

 

Instagram and Pinterest are also key social media platforms for Posse.

 

“Because our site is visual we’re constantly posting pictures on Instagram. We’re still working out how to use Pinterest.”

 

Campbell says she has recently contacted people who have Pinterest boards about their wedding to contribute to a wedding street on Posse and share merchants who offer a great service.

 

A client of Power’s, Suzie Wiley, founder of architecture firm Surroundings, uses social media to help her clients become comfortable with the process of building.

 

“It’s difficult for clients to get comfortable quickly with what we do because they haven’t normally had any exposure to designing and building homes or seeking building approvals. So it’s about getting information to them before we start,” she says.

 

Wiley uses Facebook to post behind the scenes messages and photos of the home design process, rather than just shots of completed projects.

 

“You can follow a project from start to finish and begin to understand what you don’t know about the process.”

 

She also uses Pinterest to create project boards for collaboration with other stakeholders such as interior designers to share and pin ideas during the design phase.

 

“It allows us to create a story board for client meetings, filled with ideas they can draw on.”

 

Wiley says she’s also keen to start using Twitter as a tool for her business. “It’s an opportunity to form a relationship with editors and publishers and people who might be interested in publishing our work.”

 

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