The 8 Most Important Social Media Marketing Tips for Small Businesses
It is no secret that the world of marketing has shifted significantly. Businesses of all sizes are actively seeking social media to fill in gaps, reach their customers, and branch out to more people. Many have been successful in these endeavors but it is not always an easy path, unfortunately. A little research and planning certainly go a long way but without it many businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs find themselves struggling to properly utilize and make the best of their social media marketing opportunities. Small businesses are in the optimal position to reap the rewards of social media marketing and we’ve found some of the most important tidbits of advice that every small business owner absolutely needs to read about and implement if they want to see success. There are clear-cut rules and tricks that make social media marketing a cinch and a success including proper planning, the right staffing, devotion, community, a proper process, a strategy for content, balance with advertising, and analyzing results. If it all seems overwhelming, rest assured that truly it is not. Once you read through our tips you walk away feeling prepared to tackle your goals head on.
Develop a marketing PLAN.
Truthfully, most tasks will seem daunting at first. That is precisely why everything you do should begin with a PLAN. There are multiple things to take into consideration as you set out on your path in social media marketing. Having an action plan and acknowledging your objectives is a phenomenal way to get started. Some important questions to ask yourself in the beginning:
- What do you expect to gain from utilizing social media? What do you want social media marketing to do FOR you? What do you hope to gain from this platform? For the most part, your goals will probably look like: expanding your business, pulling in new clients, and building a better relationship with both your current customers and future clients.
- Who is your target audience and how are you going to get their attention? Understanding who your business appeals the most to is a great place to start when thinking about who your target audience is. This leads to the next question, as well.
- What specific social media platforms best suit your business niche? Each platform has specific benefits and choosing the right one(s) for you and what you’re offering and selling is extremely important. You don’t want to waste time, effort, or money on a platform that doesn’t appeal to your target audience. We’ve discussed this before but as a brief reminder so I’ll offer some examples of what I mean. Instagram and Pinterest are very visual platforms ideal for businesses that center around crafts and art. Twitter and LinkedIn tend to target a more professional clientele. Facebook has the potential to reach just about everyone!
Once you can answer these questions for yourself you’re on the proper path when it comes to organizing your marketing plan ahead of time. When you have a social media marketing outline then you can always refer back to it as you reach your goals or if you lose focus and need to redirect yourself back a few steps. Having your plan clearly outlined in the beginning can easily benefit you later. Nothing could be more discouraging than slipping up a little and having to start from square one instead of simply jumping back a few steps in your original plan. Stay organized and stay on top.
Build from the inside out instead of the outside in.
As long as you’re planning things it would be relevant and beneficial to prepare the appropriate employees. Don’t overburden yourself or your company. The best action plan is to have specific employees in charge of your social media accounts and training them properly. If you have more than one person working on this then make sure you are assigning tasks appropriately. Who will be expected to retrieve and post content? Do they understand your goals and expectations? Do they understand the do’s and dont's of social media? Even if you are the person in charge of your social media accounts it is still absolutely important to lay out your expectations and plan accordingly.
Here is a handy list of things to take into consideration:
- Do you have the appropriate bandwidth to handle your accounts? Too many businesses tend to overlook details like this.
- Do you have the proper time and energy to stay on top of each platform? Do not overburden yourself with too much. Start simple and stay on top of that first. Expand as you go.
- Is your staff completely ready? Training everyone is important, no matter how much experience your employees have with social media you still need to lay out your expectations and make sure they understand what you want and what your goals are.
- What is your plan if content goes viral? When content goes viral it is often unexpected and can come with huge flushes of responsibilities and communications. Be prepared ahead of time and know how you will handle a burst of energy to your pages and your business.
- What is your plan in the event of a crisis? Knowing the best and proper ways to communicate with your followers, clients, and customers can be a make or break deal for you and your business. It is imperative to be wary of what is going on and how to appropriately avoid taking advantage of crisis situations and communicating your support or concern without damaging your reputation. This is another area many people and businesses tend to fail in. Don’t let that be you!
If you can answer all of these questions then you’re on the right track and you are headed for success!
Dive in head first and give it your all or do not give any at all.
The fact of the matter is that social media marketing is most effective when you and your business are fully committed to it. While it remains a balancing act and before we are through here today we will discuss why it’s important not to abandon your traditional advertisement methods, it is still only going to benefit you if you apply the necessary time and effort to making it work. Your social media platforms are capable of being the very face and voice of your company and this is your opportunity to quite literally manage your business’s professional and online reputation. Do not leave any stone unturned. Use social media to highlight any of your stand out employees and discuss community events. These are simple ways to build a relationship with the very people you want to reach in the first place.
Build your community
Speaking of giving it your all or nothing, building your community on social media may seem like a challenge. It certainly can be a challenge for many but it does not have to be a challenge for you. Do not forget to promote your social media accounts outside of social media! If you have brochures or business cards then you have an opportunity to include icons or web addresses to your social media platforms. Adding the iconic “F” or “T” may be all your potential customers need to seek you out on Facebook and Twitter. Facebook is a phenomenal opportunity to improve your customer support capabilities. In today’s day and age with all of our technological advances, many customers are turning to platforms such as Facebook to directly interact with companies. They can write on your wall or send you direct messages. Do not be shy about these potential advantages. Use them appropriately and you will find your community booming. These are great opportunities to build trust. Recent research suggests that as many as 72% of Twitter users are more likely to make a future purchase from a small business after they have a direct interaction on Twitter with the company. Statistics like that don’t lie. They are proof that using social media to evolve and establish a community of your own can provide immense benefits to you and your business.
Organize your efforts and develop a process.
Ensuring content goes up at optimal times does not have to be a difficult task. Using programs like Post Blazer you are able to easily schedule content to automatically post to your appropriate platforms at just the right times. We’ve discussed in the past that each social media platform has ideal times for posts to go up and Post Blazer directly ensures that you get the right content up at the right time. Instead of scheduling your day to post content yourself, you can spend a fraction of that time scheduling content. Post Blazer gives you the opportunity to free up time and focus on more direct customer interactions in the community you are building for yourself and your business.
Too many companies are throwing too much out there and hoping for the best. Scattering nonsense does your brand zero favors. Create a mission statement for each platform you utilize and do not make everything at once. Research shows that a business does best when they utilize the two or three platforms best suited for their niche. Most importantly, easing into them one at a time is the best way to make sure you do not overburden yourself or your company.
Have a content strategy
It turns out there are very specific rules for posting content and realistically when you are running a business there are only a few kinds of content you need to focus on:
- Your specific product or service
- Content relevant to your industry
- Topical content and newsworthy or trending content
- Lifestyle content or content that would appeal specifically to your target audience
Regarding social media marketing and running your platform there is what we refer to in the industry as “The Rule of Thirds.” Let me lay this out for you:
- 1/3 of your time and content should promote your business, create followers, and basically generate a profit for you
- 1/3 of your time and content should be aimed at sharing ideas, stories, and other content from like-minded businesses. In fact, sharing content from others in your industry displays a distinct awareness you have for your area of expertise
- 1/3 of your time and content should directly involve personal interactions with your customers and followers and building your personal brand and establishing a relationship with these people.
It is often said that the first goal in your rule of thirds is the easiest to establish, manage, and master but the other 2 goals are much harder. Keep that in mind when you are determining your strategy for content.
A couple of other important tips to always keep in mind is to be keyword specific within your posts. This has been known to directly aid in search engine optimization.
Maintain your traditional advertising
Social media marketing is a phenomenal tool but ideally when used to enhance your overall advertising platforms as opposed to replacing your traditional forms of advertising. Point blank: social media marketing is most effective when it is working hand in hand with your traditional advertising. Social media is a tool or a vehicle to propel your success but it is not the full strategy. While it may seem like one of the most cost-effective ways to manage your advertising budget it’s important to realize that there is still an entire demographic of people who aren’t quite so internet savvy or are not active on the platforms we regularly discuss. It may seem hard to believe considering over 75% of the population is on at least one platform but you don’t want to sacrifice the customers outside of Facebook and Twitter. As well, do not underestimate the power this community has. Do not under serve simply because the mode they found you on was social media. On the opposite hand, it may seem to some that it is a lazy method but these customers are modern and involved and they are worthy of your time and value. Appreciate them like any other customer and devote to them the attention they need and deserve to earn your business.
Analyze, analyze, analyze!
Platforms like Facebook and Twitter provide you with some of the best analytical tools out there specifically for your needs. You absolutely must use these to your advantage. Experiment lightly and measure your results. Respond to that feedback and any feedback your customers provide for you as well. Never stop analyzing your statistics. The ability to check and monitor your insights is one of the most invaluable tools you will use in your journey through social media marketing.
Remember, when it comes to social media marketing you have the tools in front of you. All you must do is be open to the ideas and algorithms and take advantage of them. Success is in your hands.