You know what the worst thing is about being a small business? Having to deal with the Marketing Manager, the Graphic Designer and the VP of Sales when they’re all having a bad day and they all look strangely like you in the mirror.

If you’re like most small business owners you’re what Michael Gerber, author of The E-Myth Revisited, calls a “technician”. Most people who start a small business do it because we want to keep doing what we’re doing without having to work for someone else while we’re doing. Whether it’s AC Repair, Tax Preparation or making Pies and Cupcakes it’s the same argument: why should I do all the work and someone else get the profits?

The truth of the matter is that there is a lot more to it, and if you’ve been a business owner for any length of time you know that so much of the high level stuff falls on you and not your employees. That technician mindset is what keeps many small business owners from being able to commit to things as innocuous as a budget, let alone determining what portion of it they’re willing to spend on Marketing and Advertising.

Deciding how to spend your Marketing and Advertising dollars can be a headache but there are strategies that help you minimize cost and reduce those headaches while bringing in new eyes to your product and new sales to your bottom line.

On more than one occasion I’ve run in to push-back from people I was consulting on the idea of social media for advertising. The most common reaction I here is something like “When I go on Facebook I never look at those ads on the side! I just read what’s on my feed…” or it might be something like “We’ve had a Facebook page for over a year and we never get more than a like or two and it’s mostly family!”
Don’t even get me started on the objections to blogging! “I’m not an expert and I hate writing!”

If you’re one of these people the you fail to understand how other people actually use tools like Facebook and how to truly leverage the power of social media. I’m here to shed some light on a simple and effective strategy to make it work for you.

Part 1: The Push

The first part of an effective social media strategy is… to actually use social media! You will actually have to have content on your social media accounts in order to foster engagement, so keeping up a steady flow of topical information is key.

The idea of posting to social media multiple times a day can seem daunting, but there are tools that help minimize the time investment and maximize the impact. Two of the most important tools to use are your Content Calendar and your Social Media Management Tool.

The Content Calendar is simple: take a calendar (digital, paper, or whatever you prefer) and map out what’s going on in your business over the next 6 months. You want to include things like:

• Product Launches
• Special Events
• Planned Sales
• Holidays
• Business Closures
• Special Guest Appearances
• Community Events

This is not a comprehensive list. Your list is going to be determined by the type of business you are – retail, b2b, consulting, etc… – and there are probably several other categories that are more specific to you and your customers that I can’t think of.

Each of these types of events can be anywhere from one to several Social Media posts. For an example you can imagine the upcoming “President’s Day Sale”. You might post about this the week before, the day before, and the day of the event. Business Closures – for whatever reason – are another example of something that will need more than one announcement. If you’re closing your doors for a week to do volunteer work you probably want to start posting about that a month or more before the date. If you’re closing for service upgrades then the days leading up to the event are more than enough.

The blank spaces in your Content Calendar are going to be taken up with general product information or industry related news and events. I typically manage these in one day a week in less than two hours (frequently less than one) by using Feedly and Hootsuite. It takes a bit of practice, but you’ll get the hang of it. As a bonus, Hootsuite offers Hootsuite University to help with understanding content and audience.

If you are a writer then writing some blog posts about products in your wheelhouse or what your customers can do with the product creates good “Evergreen” content to use with social media and helps establish you as an expert. These can be used many times to fill in blanks in the content calendar.  Some social media management applications (like the relatively new MeetEdgar.com) allow you to use this evergreen content automatically and repetitively in your social media posts with automation.  I’m currently reviewing this tool and there’ll be more on it later.

In our next post we’ll talk about the “Pull” – how to make sure your users take action on your posts.

If you’re interested in more relevant reading on this concept take a look at the resources below: