Cater a social media marketing plan for your business

If you've decided to execute a social media marketing plan for your small business, make sure you're using the right approach and really connecting with your target market. Simply setting up a Twitter profile or being active on Facebook aren't enough to generate the quality leads you need to sell something, bring people into your store, or even get noticed.

I've worked with small business owners in several industries to create and implement a social media marketing strategy, and there really isn't a one size fits all solution. Whether you're a retail store owner, restaurateur, or own a private practice, you need to develop a social media marketing plan that reaches out to people who are genuinely interested in doing business with you.

Here are some useful tips for creating a social media marketing plan for your business:

Setting up a Facebook page

A Facebook page can be one of your strongest social media tools for branding and marketing purposes. Use this page to update fans about any news, share photos and YouTube videos, link to articles and blog posts, and engage in casual conversations right on the page. The interactive nature of Facebook can help your company or brand appear more approachable. The key to making this social media platform work for your business is consistency - you have to be willing to monitor your page throughout the day, respond to comments, and be creative with your updates.

Creating a Google+ page

A Google+ page can be another effective way to promote your business and connect with potential customers. You can share breaking news in the industry, link to promotions and special offers, and set up group chat sessions to host a virtual workshop. Having this type of presence can help you reach out and interact with hundreds of potential customers in a new way.

Managing a Twitter account

If you have someone on staff that can be online throughout the day, consider jumping on Twitter. Twitter isn't for all businesses but can be particularly effective for businesses that sell retail products, food and beverages, or some type of subscription service. Happy customers are likely to follow you on Twitter to take advantage of promo codes and special offers you might tweet out as a Web-only special. Again, engagement is essential for making this social media platform work. While you might not get any direct sales or leads with this marketing strategy, you will be increasing brand awareness, reaching potential and current customers in a fun, no-pressure way, and sharing small facts and insights about your company or industry in the process.

Maintaining a blog

If you can publish at least one short post each week, start a blog and share the links to each post on all of your social media outlets. A blog post about the latest news in your industry, your company's reaction to a current event, or even some details about products and services you offer, can help you connect with potential and current customers in a fresh new way. This type of content also gets indexed by search engines so you might be able to get some Web traffic directly from various posts. Be creative with your entries and make sure to link back to different pages of your website in each post.

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