By Victoria R. Smith Posted 2/01/2020 in BUSINESS
Social media has become an integral part of our day-to-day lives. Businesses of all shapes and sizes have started to make the most out of these new marketing platforms. Today we will discuss 10 tips on social media use for small businesses.
There are a plethora of small businesses eyeing social media to promote their business and services. However, a majority of these small businesses are failing to make optimal use of social media for business growth. There are many theories and strategies on how to effectively use social media for established brands, but the topic of social media for small businesses has been insufficiently discussed.
50% focus on SEO and 35% use multichannel marketing funnels.
60% of small businesses promote their business on social media.
70% of small businesses consider content strategy as their primary marketing activity.
52% of business owners are using social media to promote customer engagement.
More than 20% of business owners surveyed said that they have seen a 50% or more increase in profits as the result of using social media.
The reasons for suboptimal social media use vary. They include uncertainty regarding the use of applications, uncertainty regarding the type of content that should be posted, uncertainty in calculating the return on investment, and an inability to persuade employees and stakeholders of the need for social media campaigns. Clearly, it’s of utmost importance to address the elephant in the room and define how social media can be effectively utilized for each small business.
If regularly updated, social media sites can deliver equal or greater results than traditional customer acquisition mediums.
Since social media is a two-way dialogue process, it helps businesses to instantly identify both what content customers enjoy and what content results in sales.
First and foremost, each small business should define their target audience. The target audience in turn defines, or at minimum informs, social media strategy. Define the target audience based on age group, sex, location, users’ online behaviors, their likes, interests, and preferences. For niche products, business owners can even target users based on their birthdays, anniversaries and important milestones. Audience targeting plays a crucial role in campaign results. For example, a local shop selling running shoes shouldn’t target users over the age of 65. While patronage from all customers is desired, businesses should focus on an audience that is reasonably likely to purchase.
Overnight success is uncommon. Small businesses should understand this and plan accordingly. Generally, when a new business starts selling on social media, there is a palpable excitement in achieving set targeted sales. Set small goals, gather data, and adjust.
Most businesses need to update social feeds regularly. Change is not a sign of failure, but a critical part of the defining the campaign.
Social media isn’t always free. That said paid campaigns can be conducted at a relatively low cost as compared to traditional mediums. Because of this we often see small businesses take a shotgun approach and create profiles on all the available platforms they can find at once. This doesn’t necessarily hamper brand image, but aggressively promoting a brand on the wrong platforms, or too many platforms, dilutes focus which results in less than optimal results. Hence it is advisable to first identify the right platform through which business can be maximized. For example, selling shoes on LinkedIn might prove ineffective, while promotions on Facebook and Instagram might be successful.
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Since so many businesses are riding on the social media wave, it is important to focus on a core product or service that sets your business apart. Nowadays, we see a lot of businesses promoting their services as well as promoting peripheral products which revolves around their core focus. The peripheral products and services disrupt customer focus, and customer focus on your core product or service is the goal of your social media presence. If a shoe seller is trying to aggressively promote socks instead of shoes, it is not going to benefit the business in the long run.
Now that we have covered the topics of identifying the target audience, setting achievable goals, choosing the right medium, and promoting the right product or services, let’s now take a look at the type of content a business should promote on their social media pages. A business should always focus on creating good quality content rather than filler content.
No new content is better than bad content. It’s fine if a business updates their page daily if the content is relevant to their business, advocates its core products, and send across a clear message. The business should continually ask before posting new content, “Is this quality content.” Multiple updates which are not relevant to the business’s products and services leads to users considering the business to be unprofessional. Another common mistake is linking to or promoting other businesses. If you don’t control the content of a link your business should not link to it. Your business is judged by the company it keeps, and as previously stated a business should be focused on promoting its core product or service and keeping the customer engaged. When a business provides a customer a link away from their page, they are essentially showing the customer the door and asking them to patronize another business.
Making a small business successful on social media platforms is no small task. It takes effort. Prospective clients must be nurtured. This requires frequent ‘touch points’ to engage the prospective clients.
Keep business goals in mind. How do we convert a prospective client into a client? How do we encourage current clients to return? The answer is simple. By regularly engaging them.
Inconsistent content or contact breaks the rhythm of the business client relationship. To maintain the rhythm a content calendar can be a useful tool. Small businesses can anticipate important events and promotions and create a content calendar accordingly. Ideally, a content calendar should be planned a month or more in advance, but even a weekly content calendar is better than none. The content calendar helps the business avoid last minute rush.
Rushed content is more likely to have errors and lack the quality needed to correctly engage customers. Planning allows for strategy. How does the content build from day to day, from month to month?
Content shouldn’t be jarring; it should be engaging. Each piece of content should flow from one post to next.
Posts from your business should both develop and maintain a feel that defines the business’s core values. Content that builds and ‘plays’ off prior content creates curiosity and customer loyalty.
Social media is highly unpredictable. The content a business posts today, might not work tomorrow. Hence, small businesses must constantly be testing content before publishing it on their pages. Management review and focus groups may play a part, but monitoring visits, and most importantly conversations is key. Learn from both the success and failure of content and adapt. Small business owners must always don the consumer’s hat before posting about any product feature, updates, schemes or offers. A consumer’s perspective is key. When possible, test content with existing customers before posting to social media.
Small businesses must always look for content inspiration. The sources of inspiration are many and varied. Inspiration can come at any time. You might be at home, out at dinner, or in a movie theater, but when the idea comes immediately record it. These days that normally involves a quick typed note in your cell phone. It only takes a moment. If you don’t take note of the idea immediately it might be lost forever. Logically a competitor who is successful in the same category is another good source of inspiration. Coping a competitor’s ideas or content is not the answer, but competitor content will spark ideas for similar types of content.
Small businesses should look for the kind of content that its competitors are posting but derive their own strategies subsequently.
Strive to create content that will be appreciated by one and all.
Inspired content and stories will set you apart from your competition, increase brand recognition, visibility, and convert viewers into consumers for the business.
Even a small promotional budget is not justifiable if there is no mechanism to calculate its return on investment. Actions taken by a business should result in profits. While clearly time and investment are needed to see returns, every business should be aware of profit or loss resulting from all marketing activity. The importance of this is magnified for small businesses where each activity is a higher overall percentage of the total budget. It is very important for a small business to keep tabs on the budget allocated to any promotions and the subsequent ROI related to it. If a certain promotion is not doing well or the business is not getting the desired results, the brand custodian can always look for other platforms to generate quality conversions.
There can be umpteen instances where a campaign or promotion might not work for a business. That doesn’t mean that the promotion is wrong, or there is a problem with the product or service offered. Doing an analysis of the campaign is just as important as setting the objective. The analysis helps the business to formulate their upcoming strategies in more effective ways. A campaign is not truly over until a full analysis has been completed. Note the specifics of the campaign and how it differed from other campaigns.
Then note the results of the campaign. How do those results differ from previous campaigns? This information should be logged for future reference. Include time and date information. You might find content breeds different results based on the time or year, or day of the week in which it has been posted. At the end of every campaign information is learned. Identify if the content and ideas were appreciated by the business’s followers or not. Note trends in ROI, and all other normally logged metrics. This ongoing practice helps businesses to identify and avoided non-performing posts and communications in the future.
While not a requirement for success, social media campaigns when implemented correctly can clearly add needed additional revenue for small businesses. Small businesses can and should reap the benefit of the tremendously powerful marketing tool social media has become.