Q&A: Starting Out And Planning The Digital Strategy For a Small Business

Question: Dear Sofie,

Can I pick your brain?

I work for a company that provides business loans to SMEs in the funding sector.

I’m responsible for developing our digital strategy and I’m also part of our sales team. I really want to get my team curious and enthusiastic so that we can try out new ways of connecting with our customers.

I can see the benefit of posting ads using Facebook and Twitter. Do you think Instagram will be equally effective?

The owner of the company wants to control every message sent out on social media. I find this very frustrating! Right now that is stopping us from getting anything done.

What do you think we should do?

Answer: Where you share your messages on social media all depends on who your customers are and where they are online. Are they on Instagram?

Social media is not a magic bullet in marketing if it’s not used the right way. I would like to start by asking about your brand message, is it clear and does your team and the owner of the company agree on what it is? If not, you need to work on it. A brand message is not something personal to a member of the marketing and sales team, it’s something that has been discussed and agreed upon by everyone working within the business.

Every brand has a brand story that makes it unique. Is it easy for your customers to read or listen to your story? People want to know why you do what you do, and if your purpose matches their own values they might choose to work with you.

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I would also like to ask you what you currently do to measure the effectiveness of your online activities. Do you track them on a weekly basis and have comparative data from a few years back? When you have enough data you can see trends showing which messages worked on different social media platforms.

Examples of relevant data are number of website visitors and referral sites, total followers on social media and growth of follower numbers and new enquiries over phone and email. One of the most important things to measure is the number of active members you have in your online community. You need to figure out what key performance indicators (KPIs) you need to measure, and remember that some KPIs are harder to measure, i.e. brand awareness and true reach.

When we surf online we want our experience to be smooth and easy. If the landing pages you are directing people to are not easy to use and understand you are turning potential customers/collaborators away.

The owner of the business has every right to be worried about the messages that are being sent out on social media, who wouldn’t be? If he or she is not familiar with social media and content marketing then you need to educate them about it. Fear can stop you from doing what you want to do.

Industries that are controlled by other bodies must have a procedure in place to make sure the message works and that they won’t be sued. One example is healthcare companies whose message must be compliant with what they can say and claim.

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The financial industry is also regulated and you need to make sure that your team is trained to share messages that work well with these regulations. The more complex a product, the more training your team will need.

You need to gain credibility when using social media. This is achieved over time by working on your messages and exploring new ways of sharing them.

I hope this gives you some food for thought.

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