Social media strikes fear in the hearts of many small business owners. Mention it, and you’ll encounter the furrowing of brows and the wringing of hands. Why is it so overwhelming for so many?

Well, to start, social media is a pretty broad term. Social media encompasses not only Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, but also LinkedIn, YouTube, Medium, blogging and more. And although digital marketing is necessary to sustain a small business, taking on an aggressive social media campaign takes away precious time from the core of most small businesses – pursuit of a passion.

This can result in a sort of analysis paralysis, in which a small business owner avoids any social media marketing because they simply don’t know whether it’s worth the effort. Even those who are comfortable with social media in their personal spheres may not be sure how to incorporate it into their business lives.

social media steps

Is social media worth your time? Don’t guess — find out.

So, what is the answer? Well, first and foremost, avoid the temptation to say, “I can’t deal with this right now”. It is possible to approach this with baby steps. What’s crucial, however, is measuring results right from the start. As a small business person with finite time and resources, it’s important to know that your efforts are producing results. There are several ways to measure and compare the impact of your social media posts.

If you already have a website, Google Analytics is your friend. Not only is it free, it will provide you with more information than you would probably ever want on how users are interacting with your website. If you’re reasonably tech savvy, you shouldn’t have any trouble using and installing Google Analytics. But if the idea of going it alone makes you nervous, you may want to consider consulting a digital marketing company to help launch you into this new territory. More information on what data Google Analytics provides can be found here.

You’re starting to post, and your audience is responding. Do you have a content strategy?

If you don’t have your own website, I would highly recommend investing in even a very simple one. People who find your social media posts interesting will expect to be able to find you online for more information. Linking to more information allows them to learn more about the topic, and your expertise. A website reassures potential customers that you are a legitimate company that is actively in business. It also allows them to learn more about you beyond your social media post, which many people may need before they feel comfortable contacting you directly.

In the meantime, however, if you don’t have a website and you want some data on the results of your social media efforts, you’ll have to investigate what the individual platforms offer as far as tracking metrics. If you have a Facebook page, the “Insights” link can provide data on your page’s performance and how people are interacting with it, including which posts have the most engagement. More information on Insights can be found here.

Once you research what metrics are available on the platforms you wish to start with, think about setting goals related to those metrics. Then start posting. Try different kinds of posts to see what gets the most views. Then play with your timing. Is there a time of day or day of the week that works best? Be methodical. Test one factor at a time rather than changing everything all at once, so if you see an uptick in readership or likes, you know what made the difference.

Choose the platform that is giving you the best initial results and continue with that, keeping an eye on metrics. Once it becomes really routine, add in another platform. Compare and decide whether it might be worth it to switch, continue with both if that seems feasible, or even add a third platform to your repertoire if that doesn’t seem too painful.

Patience and consistency is key.

Social media platforms use algorithms that generally reward consistent, regular activity. So it’s important to stay engaged. One way we help our clients to this is by coming up with a social media calendar — a plan for how many posts per week, what type on which day, how to alternate long posts and short posts, and so on. We also encourage repurposing of content to minimize the amount of new content our clients have to produce. Another way to stay consistent? Learn how to schedule posts ahead of time, so that social media isn’t constantly interrupting your day.

This “baby steps” approach to social media should be the solution to your analysis paralysis. Throughout the process, keep in mind that with social media, something is almost always better than nothing. Also, it will take time to gain some momentum, so be patient. That said, if over several months, you’re not seeing any results, investigating other digital marketing avenues might be in order. You are unique and your business i unique, so there are no “one size fits all” solutions.

About this post’s photo: choosing a direction in Kilkenney, Ireland.

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