3 Big Brand Social Media Strategies for Small Business Budgets

(This is a guest post by Social Media expert, Rick Mulready.)

If you want to be successful, find someone who has achieved the results you want and copy what they do and you’ll achieve the same results. – Tony Robbins

One of the questions I frequently get asked by small businesses is, “How do you know which social media channel to be on?”

With so many different options available it can be downright overwhelming for small business owners.  Their kids tell them they need to be on Facebook or Twitter so they sign-up and dabble in posting.  They’re not sure what they’re doing or even why they’re doing it, but they figure it’s where they’re “supposed” to be.

The social media efforts don’t impact their business’ revenue and it all results in a waste of time and resources, neither of which small business owners have much of.  So, they give up and move onto something else.

But what if they took a step back and looked at how the big brands in their industry are using social media?

After all, understanding and modeling how the most successful big brands in the world use social media can offer we entrepreneurs powerful insights that we can use to strengthen and grow our own businesses.

With that, here are 3 big brand social media strategies that you can take and immediately implement into your own business for little to no budget.

Pick the most relevant platform and go deep!

Pick the most relevant platform and go deep!

Strategy #1: Find Where Your Customers Are And “Go Deep”

Pepsi does this really well.  With so many brands, they couldn’t possibly be on every social media channel so they align their brand strategies with the social platform that has the most relevant audience, positioning and strategy.

For example, Diet Pepsi’s primary customers are Gen X women.  So, they tend to focus their social media efforts on Pinterest.  Or, with their Brisk iced tea brand, they tend to go for more of an “edgy feel” so when Instagram first came out, they focused their efforts there.  They felt that the early users of Instagram aligned with the same people they were targeting as drinkers of Brisk.

They pick the most relevant platform and focus “deeply” with it versus spreading themselves thinly across multiple channels.

With what you know about your own customers or the customers you’re trying to attract, which one or two social media platforms could you focus on that aligns with your audience?

Here’s a quick reference to help:

  • Facebook: tends to be an older audience but with all kinds of interests.  Great for word-of-mouth promotion for your brand.  Visual and videos work well.
  • Twitter: great for searching and finding people talking about your industry (i.e. – customers or potential customers).  It’s about the conversations going on and being part of those conversations.
  • Google+: tends to be where deep conversations are happening about a very specific topic.
  • Pinterest: primarily (but not all) female GenX audience. Great if your business is visual.
  • Instagram: tends to be younger, ages 18-34, and more cutting edge.  Also great if your business is visually based.
  • Vine: create content in a 6-second video format.  You can then share it on platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
3 Big Brand Social Media Strategies for Small Business Budgets

Photo credit: David Hilowitz

Strategy #2: Create Content that People Want to Talk About

Unfortunately, many businesses only use social media to sell their products or services.  It becomes their virtual soapbox, yelling out messages that they want to talk about.

A better strategy is to create great content about whatever industry you’re in and then engage in the conversations going on around you.  Give people a reason to talk about youChris Brogan calls this “building your own media coverage for the space that you serve.”

A big brand that has done this really well is the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets.  When they moved from New Jersey to Brooklyn, they needed to get people in Brooklyn to care about them, to buy tickets to come see them play.

Rather than trying to just outright sell tickets through their social media channels, they first gave tons of great content to people like funny videos, cool basketball cards and fun stats about the players.

They also engaged with people asking them questions like, “Who’s going to score the most points in tonight’s game?” The person who guessed right would then win a ticket to a game.  The Nets gave people a reason to care about them before trying to sell them tickets.

What kind of content can you create about your industry, that offers value to people, before selling to them?

3 Big Brand Social Media Strategies for Small Business Budgets

Photo credit: Dell’s Official Flickr Page

Strategy #3: Use Social Media to Listen to Your Customers

If you’re not using social media to listen to your customers, to what is going on in your industry or niche, you’re missing the point of social media.

The most successful brands use social media to listen to what their customers are saying about them and to what their customers think about their competitors.  They listen so they can learn more about their consumers’ aspirations, challenges and concerns.

Here are a few other benefits of using social media to listen to your customers:

  • It allows you to learn where your customers are hanging out online.  Are your customers on Facebook? Twitter? You should be there too.
  • Listening can help improve your business by informing your own product cycle or your own service philosophy.  In other words, how might you change your product offering or a service you provide based on the feedback you’re hearing?
  • Look at the content your customers, leaders in your industry and competitors are engaging with and sharing and then use that intelligence to develop your own content strategy like we discussed in strategy #2.

JetBlue is a great example of a big brand that uses social media to listen to their customers.

They monitor Twitter, for example, and have people who respond to travelers who are tweeting them about issues they’re encountering.

For instance, a passenger arrived in Denver for a connecting flight only to find that there were no gate agents anywhere in site.  Frustrated, he tweeted this to JetBlue and they responded within minutes apologizing and explaining why there was no one at the gate.  This showed the man that JetBlue cared and was listening.

How can you carve out a few minutes a day to listen to what your customers are saying about your business?  How can you afford not to?

To sum it up: as small business owners, we’re all starved for time.  So, we need to make the most out of our social media efforts.  The easiest way to learn how to do that is to look  no further than how the most successful brands in your industry are using social media and model it.

Now it’s your turn. Are you using any of these strategies? I’d love to hear your tips and questions. Leave a comment below!

About Rick Mulready

Rick Mulready is a social media-marketing consultant who teaches small-to-medium sized companies big brand social media strategies for small business budgets.  He’s the creator of the weekly Inside Social Media Podcast where he talks with heads of social media from the most successful brands in the world. 

He’s also giving away a free guide called “The Top 5 Big Brand Social Media Secrets” which you can grab here.

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