These days if you want to succeed as a small business owner, you really do need to be on social media. By which we mean any of the popular applications or websites that allows people to share content and connect in real time, you know…Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter or maybe even TikTok. As a small business owner the onus is on you to learn how to harness the power of social media to grow your brand and connect with your customers.
- Top tips for social media success
- How often should I post on social media?
- How much should I pay for social media services?
- How much time should I spend on social media?
OK, but honestly…how does social media really help?
When you run a small business, you have to maximize your shoestring budget and get the most out of your marketing plan. Social media is a cost-effective way to market your company. And unlike more traditional options like radio or print media, social media marketing works precisely because it is where your customers are actually spending their time.
Most of your prospective customers will go online to research your products before they will even consider buying from your store in person. You need to have an online presence if you want customers to discover your company and products. More importantly, you have to have an online presence where your customers are. Your clients are already chatting with their friends, sharing photos and video conferencing on their social media accounts. If you want to reach potential customers where they spend their time, you need to have a social media profile.
Your social media accounts also help because they allow you to build a natural, intimate relationship with your customers. When customers connect with your business online, it feels like they are talking to a friend instead of a sterile corporation. Or atleast it should. Consumers today don’t want to deal with faceless organizations, they want real connection.
Many businesses create mailing lists and email lists that include current or prospective clients. These lists allow you to immediately advertise a new product or promotion. Email lists and newsletters are particularly good at helping businesses market to clients for a low price. Social media can perform very much the same function without having to fight for visibility in already overflowing inboxes. When you have a social media profile, you are able to build a following of friends and a community around your business. This community consists of people who are already interested in your business, so you can easily move them through your sales funnel.
Ultimately, the most important aspect of your social media site is that it can increase your revenue. As a small business owner, your biggest goal is to get the most revenue with the lowest costs possible. Traditional print and television ads can quickly eat up your entire budget. In comparison, a social media profile is almost free. The only thing you have to pay for is your time. Even if you decide to buy advertisements on social media, the cost is still extremely low in comparison to other marketing techniques.
If you decide to try a new marketing strategy or target a different audience, social media allows you to test your new marketing plan without taking a huge risk. You can target your audience according to their specific likes, interests, demographics and more. Social media sites also allow you to choose a maximum budget for each day so that you never have to worry about spending too much. Unlike traditional ads, you can create campaigns for just $10 or less. Check out our indepth guide to Facebook advertising.
All of these features mean that you can test out a new idea for very little in upfront costs. You get instant feedback from the ad campaign, so you can immediately start tailoring your approach if it does not work. If it does work, you can always expand the campaign with a click of a button. Whether you just post on your profile or pay for advertisements on social media, these sites give you the tools you need to succeed.
Pick Your Social Media Channels
Once you decide to boost your online presence, the next step is figuring out where you should go. The main social media sites for small businesses are Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and LinkedIn. If you have a dedicated employee handling your social media accounts, you may be able to have profiles and marketing plans on every major social media site.
However most small businesses will only have a fixed amount to spend on marketing, so they will need to choose which channels are the most effective. To do this, try considering the locations where your customers hang out. If you work in a niche market, a niche community may be the best option.
Be careful not to make assumptions and limit yourself. Even if you are a B2B company, you may still want to use a site like Facebook. After all, there are individual people in charge of purchases at any company. Those corporate buyers are on Facebook, so you can still use Facebook for networking and marketing with those buyers.
As you search for the best platform, think about your strengths. For example, Pinterest and Instagram are heavily focused on images. If you run a restaurant or clothes store, this could be the perfect fit because you can easily post photos of your products. For a life insurance company, Instagram is probably a horrible choice because your industry does not generally lend itself to beautiful photos (unless you happen to be a very creative insurer!). Pick the site that your company will fit best on. It is always better to do extremely well on just one site than be mediocre on many sites. Once you have built one successful social media profile, you can go to other sites and expand on your success.
Social Media Tips for Small Businesses
1. Have a Goal
If you want your company to succeed on social media, you need to know what you want and how you plan on achieving it. You need actionable, measurable objectives. Never do something just because you think it might be a good idea. Decide on the objectives you want. These goals can be anything from a certain number of new likes to added sales revenue. The important thing is to make goals that you can work toward so that you know what you need to do and when you have actually achieved it.
2. Be Authentic
Originality matters online. People are on social media sites to connect to their friends. They do not want to listen to a corporate drone or a bot. If you want customers to notice you, you need a voice and an original point of view. Customers can always tell if you are inauthentic.
3. Get Creative
If you want people to notice you, you have to do something noteworthy in your post. People are used to seeing traditional advertisements, and they tend to ignore anything that seems like just another ad. Instead, get creative by using tools like Placeit to design unique banners and beautiful images. Then, you can use these images to brand your business and stand out from the crowd.
4. Focus on Customer Education
No one wants to feel like they are being sold a product. Instead of trying to just sell your products or services online, focus on teaching your customers. Education is always more effective than publishing promotions and pushing your products on uninterested consumers. Focus on educating your customers through interesting case studies, informative articles or how-to guides. With educational materials, you provide customers with added value and make them want to learn more about you.
5. Quality Matters More than Quantity
When it comes to posting online, you should always focus on the quality of your posts. You want customers to be interested in what you offer. A good post will immediately catch their attention and make them want to learn more. Plus, posting too often could end up annoying your followers. Focus on posting things that entice or engage the viewer, don’t just post for the sake of posting.
6. Try Out New Tools
There are many different tools that can make using social media a lot easier for your company. Google Trends, Buzzsumo and Hootsuite are just a few of the options that you can go with. With Buzzsumo, you can figure out which marketing approaches are working best and get help with brand monitoring. Hootsuite has a dashboard for social media management and tutorials on how to succeed on social media. Meanwhile, Google Trends helps you learn about search trends in real time and allows you to visualize data. These kinds of tools help you carefully hone your marketing approach so that you get the best results for your efforts.
7. Be Positive
No matter how great your company is, there will always be problems from time to time. Sometimes, you will have to deal with a difficult client who is impossible to please. Even if there is nothing you can do to make that customer happy, you have to stay positive. Avoid getting defensive or becoming angry. Instead, listen to the criticism and try to help the client. No matter how unreasonable the client is, you have to listen to their problems, remain calm and work to find a solution. Sometimes, upset customers just want someone to hear them and be empathetic.
More importantly, your other clients are going to see everything you write. If you have a rude, inconsiderate response, no one will want to buy from your company. Your prospective clients will judge you by the responses that you give to your other clients.
8. Think About Surveys
You do not have to stick to just using photos and text. Social media can be used to create polls or surveys of your customers. This is a fun way to engage your followers, and it also allows you to do inexpensive marketing research. You can also offer product giveaways or competitions. There are many exciting ways you can liven up your social media site and get people interested. Never be afraid to think outside of the box.
9. Schedule Your Content
You only have so much time to do things. If you have to post each day, you will end up getting busy and forgetting about it at some point in time. Instead of hoping that you will have the time and inspiration you need on a daily basis, schedule your content ahead of time. Most social media sites will actually let you designate a set time for your post to go online down to the hour and minute. By scheduling ahead, you make your life easier and ensure that your site is regularly updated.
10. Create Stunning Photos
The old saying about a picture being worth a thousand words is entirely true. When it comes to marketing, you have to stand out from the crowd. Your customers are looking at posts from their friends, family members and other companies. Somehow, your content has to catch their eye. A photo is generally the best way to capture someone’s attention. If you want your social media marketing plan to work, you need to be visually compelling with your photos.
Social Media FAQs
Each industry and business is different, so the same social media plan will not work for everyone. While your company may be unique, some of the problems you face will most likely be similar to the questions and issues that other small businesses deal with. The following are some of the most common questions that people have about using social media for their small businesses.
Some people will say that you have to post every week or on a daily basis. The right frequency really depends on what works for you and your company. Before you worry about the frequency of your posts, focus on their quality. You should always choose quality over quantity. Then, develop a regular schedule. You should focus your efforts on making sure your posting schedule is regular and consistent.
The amount you pay really depends on the services that you want. Different services and packages will cost varying amounts. We can say that if you have never used social media before, you may need some help from a 3rd party to get started.
You might go to a freelancer or agency for help. Whatever the case, the most important thing that you should do is create a well-defined scope of work. This will help you monitor all of the outputs and costs. You should also make sure that the service provider is completely transparent about their ad spend. Whenever you hire a marketer, you want to avoid just handing them a budget and letting them disappear with it. You need to know exactly where your money is spent, so track the ad spend carefully. If the marketing company refuses to be transparent about the spend, you should find a different company to work with.
This is another question where the answer can really vary from company to company. The correct amount of time depends entirely on your goals. If you just want to retain your current customers, you may need to spend less time than you would need to spend during a new promotion or ad campaign. Ultimately, the most important thing is that you actually know how much time you do spend so can measure your costs against your outcomes. The only way to do this is to know just how much time you are actually spending on each platform.