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Mississauga Life Early Spring 2015 : Page 13

Social Media Marketing experts have identified four key elements of an effective social media strategy for small businesses: • • A clearly stated objective. All social media campaigns have a specific endgame, be it driving website traffic, increasing sales, raising awareness or promoting the company’s uniqueness. Audience specificity. Messages that try to reach everyone usually end up reaching no one. It’s certainly possible for campaigns to target multiple audiences and demographics, but separate strategies need to be implemented for each of those audiences. A brand identity. What does the company believe in? How is it positioned in the market? What differentiates it from its competitors? These questions need clearly communicated answers to reach and resonate with prospective customers. A focus on providing informative value. The most effective social media campaigns don’t actively sell products or services; they provide informational value to the people they reach, implicitly suggesting that the company offers a solution to a problem the customer faces. • • Social media offers a low-cost, high-reward path to marketing the business, which is crucial to the success of cash-strapped startups and new companies. Timing However, timing is also a crucial factor when evaluating the growth opportunities that will inevitably arise once a business succeeds in establishing itself. To this end, it’s important to ask three key questions: • Can the company, as it’s currently operating, sustain growth, or have its human resources already reached their limit? Forcing growth on an overworked, undermanned staff will backfire more often than not. Can the company prepare to expand operations into new markets without jeopardizing its current operations in its current market? Deviating too far from the “meat and potatoes” of a company’s livelihood often results in revenue losses and plummeting profitability. How can the business maintain its current customer experience while focusing on growth opportunities? Providing customers with a consistent experience is the single most important key to ongoing success. • • There are no universal answers to these questions, but in most cases, internal analysis proves illuminating enough for owners to formulate plans based on the current state of affairs. Experts stress the importance of continuing to look for growth options, such as franchising and diversifying product lines and services, even when a business owner is happy with the way his or her company is performing. Networking, mentorship, creating focus groups, conducting surveys, and membership on advisory boards or industry associations are also factors that can contribute to a business’s success. In addition, it’s important to continually apply insights harvested from social media campaigns to make fast, responsive changes that improve business performance. Small businesses with nimble response mechanisms are much more likely to weather storms than their larger, slower-moving counterparts. That’s the reason major companies like Panasonic, Home Depot and Coca-Cola have adopted innovation strategies that mimic those of tech startups.  Visit us at www.mississauga life .ca

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