Technology is no longer just for geeks. The internet has changed everything, including marketing.
Be they small, medium or large, social media grants all companies an equal playing field on which to organically reach new customers. However, success will always ride on the marketing strategy employed.
Obviously, larger companies have the advantage of bigger budgets and more resources. But that doesn’t mean social media for small business owners can’t compete with the big guns.
This article covers quick tips and cost-effective ways for companies of any size to grow their business, manage their time and resources more effectively, and stay ahead of the pack.
Only half of SMBs are using social’s full potential
According to a recent study, Facebook and Instagram are the top two channels that small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) use for communication with customers. 98% of respondents say they use Facebook and 82% use Instagram to interact with their customers.
While small business social media marketing is clearly a priority, the research also shows that a good portion of the conversations SMBs are having are one-sided.
Facebook or Instagram not only allow consumers to provide feedback to businesses, they encourage it in the form of public comments, direct messages, ratings, and reviews.
However, 51% of respondents to one study said they don’t consider social media feedback and online ratings to be important to their business.
Are you surprised by these numbers? I am.
Virtually half of SMBs are missing out on a vital and accessible opportunity to grow their business and establish stronger connections with their consumer base. That’s why we’ve come up with the following tips on how to use social media for small businesses.
Decide which networks are right for you
Not all social media networks will be suitable for your business and the goals and objectives you’ve set.
Almost every business owner has a Facebook page, and that’s a great first step to generate an audience. After all, the network is approaching 2.2 billion monthly active users.
Now Facebook-owned, Instagram is the fastest growing network. Brands are jumping on Instagram because of its visual appeal to younger audiences.
Last year, Instagram passed 800 million users worldwide.
It might sound like a good idea to plaster your brand on every single possible network but it’s not. Sooner rather than later you’ll notice you’ve spread yourself too thin. When quantity increases, quality usually drops.
Don’t worry about hitting a quota or a certain number of tweets or Facebook posts per week. Instead, do your research and go where your audience is to deliver value to them. More on that later.
Want to boost your Instagram presence? Here 21 Tips to Massively Increase Instagram Engagement.
Take a moment to set your accounts up properly.
You’d be surprised how many company pages I come across that don’t link to their website or feature a broken link to one of their social pages. You want to create a spider web of links from one account to the other.
A social media presence is ultimately the front page of your business so put your best foot forward. Your Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn page is oftentimes the first point of entry a potential customer has with your business.
Humanize your brand so customers know they are speaking to a real person. You can essentially do that with a snappy bio or authentic content.
Everything starts with awareness—there’s no shortcut here
It is quite simple according to Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer at Facebook:
“We cannot change what we are not aware of, and once we are aware, we cannot help but change.”
Every successful brand strategy starts with building brand awareness. But it will take some time for your efforts to entirely be worth it.
The good news is that through social media for small businesses, you can increase your reach instantly. With the right targeting, you can promote your product or service much faster and cheaper than with any traditional media.
Show off reviews
It’s highly unlikely that today’s shopper will purchase a product blindly.
Consumers now rely heavily on online reviews, which have taken on the same role and significance as personal recommendations from a friend—in fact, 84% of consumers give online reviews the same weight as personal recommendations.
So be sure to show yours off.
Sharing positive customer experiences does more than just show that people are satisfied with the product or service you offer. It fosters trust and a snowball effect through the belief that one can achieve the same positive results if they do business with you.
Reviews and testimonials are powerful assets for your content strategy. Include the kind (but honest) words of a reviewer paired with an image to boost engagement and reach. You’ll enjoy the traffic, leads and sales this can bring.
Add a CRM to the mix for added personalization
Social CRMs are a concept that hasn’t been around for too long.
Social customer relationship management software merges social data with more traditional CRM entries such as email and purchase history to provide a thorough overview of an individual’s online profile.
It permits you to see your customers’ interactions with your brand on any channel and gives you greater insight into who they are.
This also enables you to encourage a customer to buy more products and services.
How? By personalizing the shopping experience with suggestions tailored to the individual’s purchasing behavior. It shows the customer that you are interested in what they’re interested in.
Investing in your relationship with consumers increases the likelihood that they will continue investing in your brand.
Live from an SMB near you
Live video has been brewing for a while. On average, people watch live videos three times longer than videos on demand.
Even the engagement rate is higher: 4.3% for live video and 2.2% for standard videos.
So what’s the appeal?
Live video on Facebook or Instagram is unsurpassed in capturing attention and drawing viewers into your message.
With live video one comes to expect, if not appreciate, the raw behind-the-scenes footage of a shop owner unwrapping new inventory.
This is your brand’s “real you”, offering a true taste of your small business culture on social media. This adds authenticity to your content and helps build that all-important element of trust.
Be responsive and engaging
As you’re building your business you want to stay engaged with your audience. Remember, even for small businesses social media never sleeps.
Consumers prefer to communicate with businesses via social media. After all, it’s quick and convenient.
For SMBs in particular, interacting with your audience is very important because it positions you as a brand who cares and takes the time to reply at least with a like if you can’t set aside more time than that.
Staying approachable will work to your advantage. People want to do business with real people regardless of business size.
Consumers also expect fast responses. Here, Twitter is your best friend. The network allows businesses to respond to questions and concerns in a timely fashion.
Are you listening?
Socially that is. Remember that important conversations are happening all the time outside of your owned channels.
Listen to your customers because it’s all about them—that’s one of the key takeaways from a webinar recently hosted by Slice and our very own Maria and Mette Louise.
Social listening is a reliable source to pick up the most relevant social media chatter about your brand and use it to strengthen your online presence accordingly.
Madison Gardner, Social Media Manager & Copywriter at Slice (and co-host of the webinar), realized early on in the game that:
This business starts and ends with customer engagement.
Social engagement gives direction and real-time feedback. That’s why she’s set up a listening project in Falcon to scout the web for how people are talking about big chain pizzerias and other online ordering apps.
The results show that people are interested in apps that care about small businesses. “They want to see the mission behind the beautiful pizza pictures we share,” says Madison.
Know your audience
Understanding the characteristics of your target audience is a must in order to appeal to them. Creating customer personas will help you to cut through the noise with content that genuinely resonates with your audience.
You can create a customer persona by monitoring past interactions and engagements on your own channels and beyond through social listening.
The task here is to look for trends and common behaviors, define audiences based on these, and tailor your content or customer service accordingly.
Find inspiration from others in your space
There’s no shame in using winning strategies that have worked for someone else on social. If you spot a great idea that speaks to you, adapt it to your own channels.
You don’t have to be Coca-Cola to achieve great success on social media.
Use the right tools
These days you can’t truly make headway on social media without a software suite. Not only can they free you from spreadsheets and email, they can also ensure you have an overview of all your social media activities.
Here are the top three reasons why a platform like Falcon can be of assistance:
- You can oversee your entire social presence in one interface.
- You can schedule weeks or even months of magical content ahead of time in the Publish content calendar. The Engage social inbox enables all-important fast response times too.
- All that data! Every interaction contributes to a stronger strategy. Social analytics enable you to optimize your offerings every day.
And not to mention, Falcon also eliminates the need to have 15 different tabs open in your browser.
I want to leave you with a final statistic
In 2008, only 24% of the US population had a social media profile. In 2017 that number grew to 81%, with nearly all users following at least one business.
Social media is indispensable to your digital strategy. Implementing tactics that keep your marketing interesting and engaging will, in the long run, lead to positive returns for your efforts.
So, think about what makes sense to you and be consistent, test what works and figure out what doesn’t.
The webinar What Small Businesses Need to Know About Going Digital was the inspiration for this article. You can watch the on-demand recording by clicking below: