4 Questions to Ask Before Launching Your Small Business Social Media Plan

With the rise of digital communication over the past decade, social media engagement is a powerful tool for small businesses. But for many companies, social media engagement can be daunting and overwhelming. Where do you even start?

One place to start is by asking four key questions so you can build a strong foundation. Try these suggestions from Aliza Sherman and Danielle Smith, co-authors of Social Media Engagement for Dummies:


1. Who is your target audience?

Before you build out a social media strategy, understand who you’re trying to reach. Different channels speak to different audiences, and what works for one industry might not work for others. Understanding your audience will guide the content and channel strategy. Make a profile for the people you want to reach and what they care about.

2. What will you be saying?

Social media engagement should be an extension of your content marketing strategy. Establish a content calendar before your first post so you can see the story you’ll be telling over time. Consider the content from your audience’s perspective so they’ll find it engaging and relevant.

3. When will you find the time to do it?

One of the biggest mistakes small businesses make when launching social media is underestimating the amount of time required to respond and moderate discussions. Genuine social media engagement involves give-and-take. Every post should be a two-way conversation. Your fans want to be heard, and they also want to know that it’s you who is doing the listening.

4. Where should you be joining the conversation?

Once you understand your audience and overall content strategy, you need to determine which channels make the most sense. Think about it in terms of managed and unmanaged conversation. Managed conversation happens on your own social media profiles, which can be on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest and Google+, among others. Unmanaged conversation happens on industry forums, blog posts by influential industry experts and LinkedIn Groups. Being active and responding on unmanaged channels can help you expand your audience and get your name out there.

Social media engagement can drive real results for your small business, but you need to determine your goals. You should feel comfortable asking your fans to act, whether it’s to share information you’ve posted or to sign up for an event or to buy a product. Regardless of what your goal is, you should make it measurable so you know how to improve over time.

Aliza Sherman will be available to answer your social media-related questions in an upcoming Q&A session on the Succeed: Small Business Network on LinkedIn on September 19, 2013. Sherman is a pioneer of the industry, having written more than half a dozen books about the Internet, and starting the first woman-owned Internet company in the early ’90s, Cybergrrl, and the global women's Internet organization Webgrrls International.

The Q&A will focus on the engagement side of a social media marketing strategy to build and grow relationships with customers.

And check out other upcoming Q&As on the Succeed: Small Business Network on LinkedIn:

When: Tuesday, September 10

What: Conversation on Instagram Marketing

Who: Susan Petersen, Freshly Picked


When: Thursday, September 12

What: Driving Sales Through Social

Who: Julie Cole, Mabel’s Labels


When: Tuesday, September 17

What: Social Media Engagement, Everywhere

Who: Candace Karu, Cabot Creamery


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