When you’re running a small business during the holidays, it gets so busy that marketing through social media might not get the attention it deserves. Christel Danielson, owner of Socially Connected, a Green Bay company, says that this is one time of the year that social media is most important. “You need to keep up with this part of your marketing,” Danielson advised. “Make sure you have a calendar where you set aside at least 30 minutes a day for your social media. Especially in retail, this is huge. It’s where people are researching products and services.”

Danielson takes the advice to heart in her own business, and uses Twitter, blogs, her website (www.socially-connectedonline.com), and Facebook to tell her story and encourage a conversation. As an internet strategist for her clients, she helps them create excitement. “It’s about creating a buzz around specific sales or gifts by putting it out on your sites,” she said. “That could mean deals or contests or education — anything that will drive traffic.”

Education might include topics that aren’t directly related to the business, but are popular search engine topics. This could include anything from tips on home decorating to hanging exterior lights. When featured in blogs or videos, Danielson says that it drives top of the mind awareness for your business.

“Maybe a wedding planner could talk about how to handle in-laws during the season or a contractor could talk about hanging lights without hurting gutters. A spa might offer relaxation tips. You want to engage clients with the information,” she added.

With so much competition for attention, the quality of posts and information is very important. Danielson says each platform has its benefits, and businesses need to understand which will serve their interests the best.

The most popular platforms include Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, a company website, and blogs, but not all are right for a business. At Socially Connected, Danielson said the first step for any business is determining the target customer. For this, she works with the business and does psychographic and demographic research.

“I’ll ask the business owner questions about their goals, products or services, and past customers,” she said. “Then, I’ll look at additional resources and data and build a profile of a day in the life of this person so we have a starting point of which media will work the best.”

At this point, the business should have a good idea of what their customers are looking for and how they can provide solutions. During the holidays, there is the additional question of how their target customers are impacted and the sites that they still carve out time for. The competition for time is intense.

“It isn’t just posting on sites,” Danielson said. “You need to know where your time is best spent, and at the end of the day, that means increasing qualified referrals that lead to increased sales.”

Tina Dettman-Bielefeldt is co-owner of DB Commercial Real Estate in Green Bay and district director for SCORE, Wisconsin.