If you are a small business owner, starting out from scratch on Social Media can feel daunting. However, the benefits far outweigh the negatives. And you don't have to obtain thousands of followers or run an expensive marketing campaign to prove it. What are some of the best social media tips that work for small business?
Your goal could be as simple as connecting with the current prospects or creating a buzz around your brand. Amongst many other positive things, social media lets you build trust and generate engagement. Let's explore social media for small business and talk about the useful techniques you can start using today.
Essential Social Media Tips for Small Business
#1 Set Goals and Objectives
What are your overall marketing objectives? Is it building brand awareness, lead generation or customer engagement? Your social media presence must be well-thought-out and you should never just post randomly. Clearly defined objectives will ensure business goals are supported by your social efforts. Start with goals that are SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound), and stay away from vanity metrics.
Tip: Not sure what the good metrics are? Click here to see 19 essential social media metrics.
When planning a social media strategy, a good starting point is to analyse your competition. This allows you to see what the competitors do well and how it can inspire you. Learn about the success stories and practice social listening (more on this later) to give yourself the edge!
If you already have a social media presence, do an account audit. All of your accounts must follow the brand guidelines and marketing campaigns are aligned across every social media account you manage.
Your social media goals should be tied to 3 different stages of the buyer's journey: awareness, consideration and decision. Aligning these with the business objectives and choosing the right metrics to track is crucial. But always keep in mind the 80/20 rule of social media marketing.
It says that 80% of your content should provide value and inform while only 20% is promotional. Too many times businesses lose followers because they were pushing their message out. This is not what your customers expect and certainly not something the algorithms will support.
#2 Define Your Audience
Before choosing the right social media platform for your small business, you have to spend time gaining insights about your customers. We use the pillars analogy to determine the ideal customers and learn about their needs and doubts. This way, we can create resonating content focused on providing value.
For example, BIAS is a marketing agency and our clients are mainly small businesses and SaaS or FinTech companies. We know that to effectively target these firms, we should use a formal voice and post explanatory content. And because we share a lot of stats and graphs, we make an effort to be visual. Social media networks we use the most to connect with the target audience are LinkedIn and Twitter.
Your small business demographics may be entirely different and this is why you need to dive deep into the customer's needs from the start. Understanding them well will pay off in the long run. Using Social Analytics then helps you to develop a more complete picture of who's buying from you and interacting with your brand.
Tip: Getting new followers is fun but keep in mind that ultimately, it's turning them into new customers AND retaining them what counts.
#3 Choose the Right Platform
It's important to go where your audience is. For this, you'll want to look into the demographics of each platform. As there is no one-size-fits-all technique, we advise you to study the general differences between the platforms. After that, you'll be better able to define what type of content to share and where. For example, Instagram is very visual, while LinkedIn offers a much more professional context to engage with other prospects.
Keen on learning more? Keep reading if you want to discover other social media tips that work for small business!
Facebook is the biggest social media channel with 2.23 billion monthly active users (as of 2019). In 2018, there were 80 million business pages on Facebook. In short, it is a top platform for both B2B and B2C businesses. And with Facebook Ads, the platform also has the best and most comprehensive set of tools for paid advertising.
Consider Facebook as the social home for your business. In terms of content, choose a variety of formats. Video content, images, blog posts or infographics all prove to be useful on your Facebook page. And don’t be afraid to share industry content. As we've said in the beginning, it's about providing value to your customers first and foremost.
According to the LinkedIn Sophisticated Marketer Guide 2019, LinkedIn is the most effective channel for achieving content marketing objectives for 82% B2B Marketers. It's a great place to publish posts with industry statistics, short educational videos or write your long-form content. The best thing about LinkedIn? It opens you up to an audience that already listens. And while building a strong reputation takes time and effort, LinkedIn's popularity is expected to grow. This makes investing your energy into building LinkedIn presence worth it.
Twitter is a great place to build relationships with your customers as it's easy to join the conversation on this channel. Engaging with customers promotes positive feelings about your brand. This, in turn, encourages future purchases and raises the overall customer satisfaction. According to this Twitter survey, 85% of people feel more connected to the small business when they follow it on social media.
And while you should focus your energy on conversations, Twitter is also a way of driving traffic to your website - traffic that could convert into paying customers. From blog posts to new product offerings, tweeting the links with catchy descriptions gives people a reason to click and visit your page.
Finally, let's talk about Instagram. More than 500 million people use this platform every day. And with more than 71% of users under the age of 35, it still has a relatively young audience. Optimising your profile by tweaking the bio and choosing the right profile picture is the first step. We wouldn't advise starting on Instagram without committing to a regular posting schedule.
Showcasing your product is the first thing that comes to the mind and in this case, the consistency is important. Creating compelling visuals takes time. Using similar colours and filters with an aesthetic that's easy to spot is a great way to get more reach. Big brands such as Coca Cola, Taco Bell or Spotify bring this strategy to perfection.
On the other hand, companies that offer services are good at showing what's going on behind the scenes. Highlighting the office life, introducing the people behind your brand or showcasing customer stories inspires the followers and generates engagement.
Dominate on one Platform
According to Melinda Emerson (the author of an ebook 'How to Become a Social Media Ninja'), picking one platform and dominating on it is a perfectly viable strategy. “Find out where your target customer spends time online. Then pick one social platform and dominate on that one. Claim your profiles on the other networks, but focus most of your time on that one. Listen first."
There are opposing views as to whether or not to focus on a single platform. But if you do exceptionally well there, prefer quality content over anything and have a limited budget, it may be a convenient solution for your small business.
After you are clear on what you are trying to achieve, who's your target audience and what type of content you'll share on which platform, it's time to start posting.
#4 Start the Conversation
The unique benefit of social media is that businesses can approach their customers directly. This helps to build relationships, rather than asking for a sale right upfront. And relationships that lead to purchase are one of the reasons people follow their favourite brands on Twitter, according to this report.
Starting the conversation and engaging with your prospects comes down to two things - social monitoring and social listening. Monitoring tells you what, listening tells you why. When you take time to engage with the customers and create a real connection, that's when you do social monitoring. The ultimate goal is to make the interaction positive and create a meaningful experience.
Social listening is about analysing the data and seeing the bigger picture. It enables you to use the most relevant hashtags to increase reach. And it gives you a way to identify the key audience and create useful content to establish your business as a thought leader.
You must use both monitoring and listening to engage with your customers. Your target audience is on social media to inform its decisions, research products and ultimately, make a purchase. Interacting with the customers and being present is the first step you can do to improve your brand reputation and sell more.
#5 Use A/B Testing
A/B testing is a traditional tactic allowing you to refine your content marketing and advertising strategy on the fly. This helps you to quickly determine what works and what doesn't so that you can focus on content that brings results.
But what's A/B testing for social media? Also known as split testing, this method allows you to test small variations in your marketing materials to understand which is the most effective with the particular audience. The ultimate goal is to make data-driven decisions and gain insights into what works best for each of your social media platforms.
Knowing what kind of content performs the best, you'll be able to decide on what posts are worth promoting and what elements to use in your social media ads. So, what's the basic formula for a successful A/B test?
- Pick an element to test (image type, post description, call to action).
- Create two identical versions different in one element.
- Track the results of each post.
- Choose the winner.
- Do another test with a different variation and start again.
A/B testing thrives on social media because it's flexible and efficient by nature. With a good split testing strategy, you'll start seeing results soon and will be on track to produce better content with time.
No matter how small your business, social media can help you to connect with your audience, reach new customers, and increase brand awareness. If you feel overwhelmed by all of the possibilities social media present, start on one or two platforms and build your marketing strategy from there. Just remember to set clear goals and define your target audience before doing anything else.
BIAS is a triple award-winning digital agency offering personalised marketing services. Our small business strategy includes detailed research, planning, execution and data analysis. Want to know more? Discover our packages today!