THE BLOG
09/23/2015 11:29 am ET Updated Sep 23, 2016

How Your Small Business Can Automate Social and PR

Small businesses often feel at a disadvantage when it comes to creating an effortless social media and PR plan that engages with the audience and has an actual ROI. It's a daunting task, and most small businesses end up throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks.

However, it can be done well with some simple best practices and some strategic planning. Here are some tips from the pros so that your small business can automate social:

Step 1: Audience
Think about your target audience very carefully and who you want to target for the next three months. Be incredibly specific on the segment you want to target: CMO's at medium-sized companies in the fashion industry. Or: stay at home moms who homeschool.

Step 2: Listen
If you know your target segments you should be somewhat aware of what's going in their life. Know what problems their facing, what goals they want to achieve, what a day in the life of your audience looks like. Listening to what they are going through and empathetically understanding their needs is a must.

Step 3: Brainstorm
Brainstorm content ideas that will resonate with your segment. Come up with content that is about them - not your product. Nothing is more infuriating than reading a white paper from a company you think will be informative about a topic and it ends up being a "How To" on using their product. It's completely tone-deaf.

Understanding your audience will provide valuable, sticky, and memorable content that will make them come back for more. Look at how much time you're trying to cover and how often you need to blog. If you're looking to do three blogs a week for three months, then you need 36 titles. If you are a B2C product, you can eliminate this hassle by doing three white papers and pulling the blogs from the white papers to attract more downloads (and capture more emails).

Step 4: Create!
Create the content - whether that is blog posts, white papers, etc. Use your brainstorming session to come up with content you know will resonate with your audience to create titles and posts for your customers. If you have little money to do this, assign your employees posts with titles and outlines to do the writing. If you have some budget, you can hire English students or even professional bloggers to write for you. Use fun photos as well - it's proven images get more retweets and share on social. You can use Buffer's new tool Pablo to create engaging images in under 30 seconds.

Step 5: Editorial Calendar
Create an editorial calendar for yourself. This is incredibly important because you'll want certain pieces to hit on certain days. Determine when you want each piece to hit and give yourself a calendar reminder so you can spend 10 minutes each day monitoring everything.

Step 6: Automation
Use the blog posts you have ready to launch in your back-end to start setting up your tweets, pins, Facebook, and Linkedin Campaigns. With each blog post use best practices for each social platform.

  • Facebook - 1-2 posts a day, ask your fans questions.
  • Twitter - set up 4 compelling quotes from the blog with a link to the blog. Use images and hashtags to get more attention.
  • Pins - Use the images from your twitter.
  • Linkedin - This is for b2C - Post the blogs and use similar engagement as Facebook rules.

Step 7: Press!
If you have press relationships (and you should always be working on a few in your back pocket), work with your reporters and offer them your editorial calendar and see if anything looks interesting. If you lack a reporter friend, you can use a services which automates the process and gets you publicity immediately in a reputable publication. The idea is to drive eyeballs from their bigger site back to your blog. Even if the conversion is .2%, your blog likely has very little traffic, so you need to build an audience.

Social media matters, even for small businesses. These tips will help you get a handle on your social and PR. Have more automation tips? Feel free to share in the comments below.

John Rampton is the founder and CEO of Due a company helping small business owners from around the world to easily manage their accounting online.

This post was originally published on Due.com.