08 Mar How Should Small Businesses Use Social Media?
Effectively communicating with customers is important to businesses big and small. Social media is the newest and most rapidly growing platform for businesses to connect and communicate with both current and potential customers.
Just how many small business owners are taking advantage of the benefits of social media?
In 2018, Clutch conducted a survey of 351 small business owners that provided some interesting findings. Of these owners surveyed, 71% used social media for their business. Facebook was the most-used channel by those who used social media at 86%, with Instagram as the second most-used at 48%. Additionally, 74% of female business owners used social media for their business, while only 66% of male-owned small businesses did so.
If you’re a small businesses owner looking to start using social media or improve your current social media strategy, you have come to the right place. First, we will look at the benefits of using social media. Then, we will look at the best strategies for small businesses.
Benefits of social media for small businesses
Social media makes it easier than ever for small businesses to engage with their audience and reach potential customers. Using social media for your business will help you keep up with your competition and improve your overall customer experience.
Some major benefits of small businesses using social media include:
- Improving web traffic
- Increasing brand awareness
- Rewarding customers (such as with promo codes)
- Generating social buzz
- Targeting customers in your area
- Connecting with other businesses
How should small businesses use social media?
Social media is the solution for your small business if you are looking to improve your reach and increase sales. It’s easy for social media to seem overwhelming to jump into, but it’s not that difficult to get started. With the right strategy in place, social media can be one of your greatest assets.
Here are a few essential social media tips for small business owners:
Before all else, make a plan
Your social media marketing plan should be no different than how you plan for anything in your business. Posting organically on your own is free, but it won’t consistently reach and engage with as many of your customers as a social media plan would. This social media plan will support and help drive your business goals.
To develop a strong social media marketing plan, you should:
- Set clear, achievable, measurable and relevant social media objectives and goals for your business. Determine these goals from what you want your social media campaign to accomplish, such as increasing your overall customers or improving conversion rates.
- Research how your competitors are using social media. This will help you conceptualize your social media strategy by taking note of what methods work well and what to avoid.
- Examine the current state of your social media, if you’ve already started, consider looking at other small businesses outside of your industry for fresh strategy ideas.
- Create a social media calendar. Your campaign will reach more people if you’re posting consistently at the right times and with the right content. Generally, the 80-20 rule works best: 80% of your content should be entertaining, educating or informing your audience, while 20% should promote your brand, services or products.
Understand your audience
Knowing your audience well is one of the most important business strategy requirements. In order to effectively know who your audience is online, gather data about your existing customers. Social media analytics will tell you more about how your customers are already interacting with your business online. Your successful social media strategy depends on how well you cater to and engage with your audience.
Choose the right platforms
Judging by a hunch alone on which platforms to be on will not turn out well—it’s like trying to make your way around a room in the dark. For example, Facebook may not initially appear to be the best place to reach your audience if they are millennials, but in reality Facebook still remains the most widely used social media platform today.
Curious about what social media platforms small businesses are using? The Clutch survey found that small businesses that used social media marketing were on the following platforms, by percentage: Facebook 85%, Instagram 48%, YouTube 46%, Twitter 44%, LinkedIn 31% and Snapchat 25%.
While it is important to be where your competitors are, it’s even more important to be where your audience is. Facebook should almost always be used since it still reigns atop the social media hierarchy, but the rest depends on your audience. Researching the online demographics of your targeted audience will help you more accurately reach it.
One of the greatest features of social media is that it allows you to directly engage with your audience. This allows you to build relationships, brand awareness and trust over time. Users who follow small and medium-sized businesses on social media are more likely and willing to make purchases from them.
Facebook Groups are one way you can cultivate those relationships. In them, you can form a specific community that develops relationships among your audience and with your brand.
Social media is also an easy way to make connections with other businesses and industry influencers.
Grow your audience
Once your social media strategy is taking hold, you can start growing your audience with social tools. For example, Facebook targeting options allow you to market to new audiences who may be interested in your brand. Keep focused on your core market, but don’t be afraid to start branching out over time. Many social media tools also offer the option to specifically market to potential customers in your local area—a huge benefit to small businesses.
Share visually engaging content
Humans are naturally visual-oriented, and social media is no exception to this rule. Twitter found that people are up to three times more likely to engage with a tweet that includes a picture, video, GIF or infographic. Other predominantly visual social platforms include Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat. Young people are especially more likely to be influenced to travel to a specific location or try a restaurant that a friend of theirs has shared visual content for on social media.
If you don’t have enough of your own visually engaging content yet, you can take advantage of many websites for free stock images. However, be careful, as taking random images from the internet that are not from these stock websites can be risky business with copyright laws.
Put quality above quantity
It may seem daunting to take on the whole realm of social media, but the truth is that you don’t have to. Your customers don’t care if you’re not on every single platform as long as you’re providing engaging and relevant content to your audience on the platforms you do use. The content you generate and the relationships you build with customers will result in more purchases than if you only spam your followers with your products.
Your target audience demographics will guide you in which platforms your social media accounts should be on. For example, Instagram appeals to millennials and members of Generation Z; Facebook to ages 50-plus. Also keep in mind that Instagram is a highly visual social platform that requires at least once-daily postings of engaging photographs. If your product or service is not particularly “Instagramable,” it may not produce the desired results for your business.
Pick the right tools to use
A successful social media strategy comes from utilizing tools that minimize and automate the effort required to keep up social media. Different tools help your strategy in different ways. These tools can help you with managing engagement, gathering analytics data, creating graphics and curating content. Social media tools can greatly improve the productivity and effectiveness of your strategy.
Track your performance, monitor your engagement and respond to the conversations
Analytics tools are crucial to directly tracking and monitoring the right metrics on how your social media is performing, who you are reaching and what you could be doing better. When it comes to evaluating what new strategies might work and might not, A/B testing is the way to go.
Social listening is also just as essential to a business social media strategy. While you need to monitor and engage with your audience in your own social channels, it is important to see how your brand is being discussed elsewhere online. This is social listening. Respond, when appropriate, and consider how you can make changes to improve your favourable online status.
If you are a small business owner looking to improve your social media presence or to simply get started with social media, Virtual Stacks Systems UK is here to help. Our social media marketing services put the most up-to-date social media strategies into practice to ensure that you will grow you brand awareness, build online relationships with your customers and increase your web traffic. Contact us today to get started!