Social media marketing can seem a little like doing house chores: you know you should do it, everyone else seems to, but it’s so damn time consuming to do week in, week out — and the benefits aren’t immediately tangible. And yet for small businesses and startups, utilizing social media regularly and coherently really is essential — whether in terms of customer acquisition, brand positioning, wider awareness or simply becoming the leading opinion-maker in your field.
There are around 3 billion social media users, this is a large chunk of people which your customers and potential ones are part of, it then means that your business needs to be on social media.
It’s now the main way you’ll speak to your audience. It's also a way of building your brand, nurturing your relationship with your audience, and now, even enables users to shop directly through the platform.
But a mere social media presence isn’t enough. You need to communicate and engage regularly with the people you need — clearly, concisely, and cleverly. According to the marketing platform Hubspot, last year 80% of marketers claimed that social media marketing was important for increasing traffic to their websites. And yet according to Social Media Examiner, 85% of marketers aren’t sure what social media tools are the best to use.
So how can you take care of your company’s messaging efficiently, inexpensively and shrewdly? Here are tips on how to best navigate social media as a small business. Let's dive in.
1. Choose the Right Platforms
Since social media is such a vast universe, it’s best to start with one or two, then build up others when you’re more established and have found your voice.
Research where your audience is, and get on that platform first. Here’s some information on the type of audience on each platform, and what they’re best for:
Users are typically 18 or older. Used to share content in a variety of forms, but beware — Facebook does all that it can to keep users on its site, so it’s best not to fight them for fear of losing your reach. Share videos, infographics, milestones, behind-the-scenes snippets, and competitions; just try to keep your audience on Facebook.
This is better for B2C businesses, especially ones that are more visually appealing. The ‘Instant’ side of Instagram is still present as well, with the addition of Stories.
Best for sharing information and news, and for sharing links to your website. The Twittersphere is a varied bunch, from all ages and a lot of different interests.
Great for B2B, specifically for professionals. This has a totally different feel than the other social media platforms — it’s more understated and formal.
Ideal for businesses with a mainly visual offering, like fashionistas, artists, or make-up artists. Make sure your product images link back to your website for people to purchase.
Usually younger audiences, under the age of 25. Much more of an instant-reaction platform, ideal for quick-fire, video-based content.
If you have, or are planning on having videos, get on Youtube. It’s great for brand awareness, but don’t expect many clicks to your website from Youtube. While you should start with one or two social media accounts, it’s worth signing up for the other ones that you intend to eventually use at the same time, in case the names get taken.
2. Get Set Up Properly
Where possible, it’s best to start off on the right foot. The social media platform creators want you to achieve your goals on social media; they know how you can do it best, and they can probably explain it easiest. Watch their videos, read their guides, and follow the steps for setting up your account:
Still don’t understand or are not confident enough to set up your social media accounts? Contact us today to help you out.
3. Don’t Buy Your Audience
If you’re going to spend money, do a decent paid promotion (We will discuss more later). Don’t Buy Your Audiences. You’ll end up with a mixture of fake accounts (bots) and real people who would never buy from your brand.
What’s the point in talking to them? Don’t waste your time trying to convert those that can’t be converted. Plus, social media platforms are cracking down on bots all the time, so you don’t want to wake up one day to find that 50% of your followers have gone.
Say it with me: don’t buy your audience.
4. Don’t Just Promote Yourself
Customers will get bored and lose faith in your brand if you’re constantly posting about how great you are, and how great your products are. It sounds fake. Think about it — the brands you admire aren’t often tooting their own horn. Sure, it’s great to post about your achievements, products, or services once in a while, but make sure it’s interspersed with quality content.
Your customers need a reason to follow you on social media. It’s not just to hear you talking about yourself all the time.
Would you keep a friend who just spoke about themselves? It’s got to be a bit of give and take — they’re giving you money and their attention, so you give them your product/service and valuable content.
Use social media to promote your content — create things that your audience will want to see. Here are some ideas for content that aren’t self-promotion:
• User-generated content
• Behind-the-scenes snapshots
• How-to guides and tutorials
• Games (you can embed these to some social media platforms)
• Things that inspire you (books, films, art, music, other business owners)
• AMA sessions (ask me anything)
• Responses to local or national events
• Milestones (1000 followers? Share it!)
If in doubt, the general rule of thumb is 80:20. 80% content, 20% promotion.
Remember: content is king & queen!
5. Respond to Customers
You should always reply to messages, comments, reviews, and tags as much as you can. It sounds like a daunting task, but when you’re first starting up, you’re not likely to get many — it sounds harsh, but it’s true.
As you grow, to save yourself time, on some social media platforms like Facebook, you can set up automatic replies to answer the simpler questions.
Responding to customers makes them feel heard and valued by you and your brand. Which they should be — they’re your source of income!
6. Encourage Engagement
You want your audience to talk back to you — for them to like, share, subscribe, follow, and comment — everything! Every engagement with you increases your range on social media. The more people interact with you, the more likely other people will find you.
Ask your audience questions, and get them to tag their friends with funny or thought-provoking content. Give them a reason to.
7. Stay True to Your Brand
Don’t post something that does not represent your brand. Remember, when you’re posting on social media, you’re representing your brand, not yourself. So don’t share those smutty memes if it doesn’t fit in with your brand. This also goes for the visual brand of your business.
Tools like Canva can be very useful to create content, but make sure that you stick to a set of brand guidelines so everything looks like it’s from the same company. Now that will do for now…
Let's continue next week on how to use visuals, hashtags, and content to grow your business on social media.
Let me know in the comment section which of these tips you are already implementing or will like to implement for your business.
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