The most important ingredient of boosting social media marketing success as a small business is creating a strategy.
All too often we see business owners miss the mark with social content because they lack a few simple best-practices. Things like choosing the right platforms, getting to know your followers, and weekly content calendars all make a huge difference.
The good news is more than 3.7 billion people around the world use social media to connect with friends, family, and yes, brands. Brands like yours.
Today, we're covering just about everything you'll need to know to boost your brand awareness and sales with several proven social media tips.
Let's get started exploring how to use social media marketing for small businesses.
If it's not already obvious, social media platforms are one of the best ways for businesses to reach and interact with their customers. Outside of email marketing, social media is the most direct line to both current and future customers.
But what is social media marketing? And why do businesses need a social media strategy?
At a high level, social media marketing is a deliberate and strategic approach to reaching an audience and engaging with them when and where they want. Social media allows SMBs to leverage the most connected networks of human beings on earth in order to build meaningful cross-channel relationships and provide solutions to their pain points.
California small business (Sociology Coffee Bar), for example, uses social media marketing to entice local residents to come in and try a variety of their beverages through captivating imagery:
Link to Instagram post: here.
However, posting content isn't the only way to get a ton of value from social media.
A business that relies on knowing what a consumer is saying about the brand would monitor social media conversations and respond to relevant mentions - monitoring.
A marketer who wants to understand how the brand is performing on social media would analyze its reach, engagement, and sales on social media with an analytics tool - analytics.
A business that wants to reach a specific audience at scale would run a highly-targeted social media advertising campaign - advertising and engagement.
Now that you're sold on utilizing social in your overall marketing, it's time to get into building a strategy. This is where the best works happens and you start to see results.
It's time to dust off the neglected profiles and build off what has worked in the past. A social media audit is an opportunity for your small business to understand what’s happening and how to craft a strategy for your marketing strategy moving forward. An audit includes:
Should your small business choose LinkedIn, Pinterest, Snapchat, Instagram, or even TikTok as your platform of choice? The answer: it depends. First and foremost, you decide the types of new customers you are trying to reach. Each platform offers a unique target audience depending on your goals. Here's an overview of each:
LinkedIn marketing example: Goodr is an up-and-coming (small) sporting goods brand, primarily selling accessories such as sunglasses and hats. Their identity and culture carry through everything they do on LinkedIn.
Link to LinkedIn post: here.
Knowing basic demographics such as age, gender, occupation, and location is critical for small businesses. Not only does it help to improve your product, but it allows you to spend your social media marketing dollars wisely. And while you shouldn’t make assumptions on the persona’s of customers based on demographics alone, they can provide you with a launching point.
The effectiveness of your marketing message, for example, may be affected by their age or location. Or, people with certain interests in your audience may interact with different types of content. You can find out such demographics using surveys, a social media monitoring platform such as Meltwater Consumer Audience and Insights, or by simply looking at who your existing clients are.
We recommend trying all three.
Any marketer that has spent time building a successful social media marketing strategy will tell you that a content calendar is key.
When your content regularly appears on your audience’s feed, it becomes much easier to create a consistent stream of engagement and interactions with your target audience. Posting consistently great content increases your organic reach through a platform’s algorithm, which means that your posts get shown to new people, and you're more likely to get more followers.
A calendar also gives you a high-level campaign overview, which allows you to create a strong brand message and effective content cadence. When planning your content, organize it chronologically by date and time of publication and then by social network. This may seem intuitive, but many marketers forget to do this and lose sight of their weekly, monthly and daily routines.
One of the most overlooked social media tips is experimenting with the timing of your posts to optimize engagement. All too often a marketer will get in the habit of posting at the same time every day.
The best times to share content on social channels will depend on when your followers are online and when they use specific social channels. But here is a jumping-off point for the next campaign (all times EST):
*These times will vary based on your specific audience.
Visual content has proven to be among the most efficient and effective ways to communicate your message and increase brand awareness. Whether your a seasoned designer or just getting started, there are two easy things you can do to create the best visual content:
Small business and Shopify merchant, Hair Works, uses video content from their community on Instagram to drive product engagement. Notice the portrait orientation of the video - perfect for the Instagram News Feed:
And if you'd like to learn even more, we've gathered examples of posts, tweets and videos from brands that can inspire your social media strategy.
At the end of the day, it's called "social" media for a reason. The platforms discussed above are the world's largest online communities where people go to connect with family, friends, and yes, even small businesses.
San Francisco based interior design firm, The Wiseman Group, engages with their community by sharing captivating stories of their clients across social:
Actively engaging with your community is an important part of maintaining a social presence for any organization. But for small business owners, time is their most valuable asset. Using a tool with community management capabilities will not only make your social activities easier, but it will also maximize your effectiveness.
Abraham Lincoln is famous for saying, "Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe."
The tools you use to manage your marketing efforts are your axe. And they need to be sharp.
Leveraging a variety of tools to manage your marketing presence online can mean the difference between success and failure on social media. Most importantly, they allow you to compete with the world's largest and most successful brands and businesses.