January is a great time to rethink old habits and create some New Year’s resolutions (i.e. goals) for yourself and your business. And while no one really knows what’s around the corner for social media in 2017, it’s clear that small business will need to keep evolving to adapt to the fast pace and non-stop demands of social media marketing. Here are three ways that I see small businesses taking advantage of the marketing opportunities offered by social media in the coming year.

Small Businesses Get Closer to Measuring an ROI.

For quite a long time, businesses of all sizes have been struggling to measure an ROI on social media marketing. It’s not an easy task, but then again it tends to be a challenge to measure a business’s offline ROI too. It’s hard to know exactly how many customers you get from a print ad, billboard, radio ad or even a flyer. Traditionally, marketers have made a set of assumptions based upon the kind of return they saw in the days or months after running offline marketing campaigns.

With social media, businesses are going to get better at measuring their return using online tools, which are increasingly available. Monitoring the click-through rate from social media ads and platforms can help you see how many touch points customers experience. In addition, using Bitly and UTM codes for your online marketing can give you exact data about who is visiting your site from each channel. Google Analytics can show you what actions they take when they get to your site. For more info on UTM codes, see this recent article from Social Media Examiner, which explains how to use Google UTM to measure your social media traffic: http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/how-to-use-google-utms-to-analyze-your-social-traffic.

Small Businesses Get Smarter about Social Media Tactics.

Businesses this year will not only explore more platforms and technology, but they will also spend more time advancing their knowledge on social media marketing. Gone are the days of putting up random posts without having a plan. More businesses will research tactics, keep up on trends and devise strategies that help meet their marketing goals.

While so many businesses in the past stayed with the tried and true Facebook, more will branch out and find ways to make platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and LinkedIn work for them. Instagram especially, with its casual style and approachable content, will attract more small businesses looking for new ways to connect with fans and customers.

Small Businesses Get More Efficient at Managing Social Media.

Increasing numbers of small business owners have taken the social media plunge in recent years, and have discovered that social media platforms are worthy of their time and energy. Jumping into social media without a plan is not only bad for strategic content creation, however, it can also turn your social media marketing into an unnecessary time-suck. Small businesses owners who have run into this problem can learn to manage their social media platforms systematically and effectively, so that their strategic efforts pay off.

Setting specific and measurable social media goals, using a checklist and monitoring growth on the different social media platforms are the keys to achieving that goal, and small businesses will get better at doing these things regularly and efficiently in the coming year. They can do so either by outsourcing those tasks to an agency or by training and assigning someone in-house. Either method is effective, and will result in improved marketing.

So how about your small businesses? What is on your social media goal list for this year? If you are looking for ways to get smarter and more effective about your social media marketing, I encourage you to check out my new book: The Social Media Cookbook, Strategic Marketing Recipes for Small Business Success. You can find it on Amazon.com in both Kindle and full-color paperback at this link: http://amzn.to/2ika6db. I’d love to hear your feedback and how it helps you with your social media strategy in 2017.

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