By Michael Thompson, Chapter Chair, SCORE NE Mass

For a social media that works for your business, set goals, try things, then perfect the things that work.

Over the past 4 months, I’ve had the privilege of leading three workshops on Social Media and how to use it to attract clients to one’s business. I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to meet some great speakers and learn from them as well as the attendees, who contributed their experiences. But it’s obvious to me that jumping on a specific social media wagon without a plan might just be a waste of time.

Before you decide on a “wagon” or channel for your communications, you should develop a strategy. And that comes from analyzing what you’re doing now and how it measures up with industry standards. Most of our registrants came to the workshops because they were unhappy with the productivity of their websites. And social media is a good way of driving traffic to your website if your published content is interesting. But how do you know that today’s results are bad and tomorrow’s will be better? The answer is to measure and to benchmark. Do you have a system in place, such as Google Analytics, to measure your web traffic? Are you checking it regularly…especially after a new social media campaign? And have you researched your industry benchmarks so you know how you’re doing? You need to develop a scorecard and aim for continuous improvement.
It was obvious from the questions we heard that many websites were not set up for easy navigation or keeping a potential customer’s interest. You should never assume that the “expert” who developed your website knew how your customers would interact with your product and you should ask for feedback from interested parties about what they like and what they would change. You need to update your website from time to time, if only to make it conform to the latest changes in search engine algorithms, so take that opportunity to give your navigation and wording a tune-up as well.

As for your social media message, think about these four things:

  1. Which social media platforms are used by most of your customers?
  2. How is your business unique?
  3. What is the best way to communicate that message, and
  4. How can you convert your readers to customers on your website?

Ask your customers which social media they like. Ask them if they ever post. Find out where most of them are active…that’s the channel you want. As for your message, you need to focus on the need your product or service is meeting for your existing customers. Think of the bigger picture; e.g., if you have a restaurant, you are really in the business of providing convenient food solutions and your uniqueness may derive from either your menu or its choice of ingredients. Those could both be good subjects for your postings as long as you do so in an authentic and helpful manner. This is not the place for a “hard sell”, but rather an opportunity to educate your customers on why certain foods are used and how they could be appealing. Then you need to ask for the order by mentioning a “Wednesday night special” redeemable with a coupon they can find on your website.

The conclusion I reached from listening to all our attendees and speakers is that first you try then you perfect. Repeat what works and discard what doesn’t. Refine your postings, but never forget your original goal or to measure your results.