Since the first social media site was launched in 1997, social media platforms have become a staple of modern life.
Need proof? Statista estimates that 2.77 billion people worldwide will log onto social media platforms in 2019. Plus, 30% of all time spent online goes toward social media interactions. As more people around the world become connected, and social media increasingly provides for everyone’s personal and business needs, its popularity will only grow.
As a small business owner, you’ve likely already invested time and resources into various social media platforms, because you know that they help when it comes to generating brand awareness, building trust with your target audience, improving customer service and increasing sales.
However, many small business owners struggle to see results. With so many social media strategies out there, it can be difficult to choose which is best for your small business.
For instance: Do you spend money on paid ads or focus on organic posts instead? How do you target your audience? Is it crucial to post visuals? How about going on Facebook Live? Do you need an Instagram account?
Don’t fret. With the following five tips, you can get your social media campaigns in good shape and experience the many benefits that the various platforms have to offer.
1. Have a Documented Strategy
Before you start posting on social media, figure out what your strategy is going to be and what goals you want to achieve. Your objectives need to be S.M.A.R.T., meaning Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time Bound. Using S.M.A.R.T. will help you create attainable goals and outcomes that are measurable.
As part of creating your social media strategy, perform audience research to figure out who they are, what their jobs and hobbies are, how much money they make per year and what kind of solutions they crave. Next, create buyer personas based on the information you discover.
Conduct a competitor analysis as well. Then, you’ll know what you’re up against and how you can stand out. Determine how often your competitors post, what kind of content they’re posting, how they interact with followers and how many followers, views, mentions and page likes they have. You can manually monitor competitors by looking through their pages, or simply by using a tool like Mention.
Another critical part of a social strategy is to perform a social media audit of what you already have out there. What social platforms are you currently using? When and how often do people interact with you? Which posts are popular, and which aren’t? Perform a social media audit, and track what you’ve found in an auditing template you can refer back to.
2. Choose Your Social Media Platforms Wisely
Before you spend time setting up an account on every available social media platform, do a little research and determine where your target audience is. Your time is far too valuable to spend it on managing accounts that your audience won't visit.
For instance, if you find that the majority of your target audience spends more of its time on Instagram than it does on Snapchat, you might want to forget the latter. In general, a majority of Americans are now using Facebook and YouTube, and the demographics on those sites are mixed. Everyone from teenage boys to Baby Boomer women are using them. Snapchat is the place for Generation Z, since 78% of 18-to-24-year-olds use it. Instagram is highly popular among 13 to 29 year olds and about 50% of Americans with a college degree are on LinkedIn, compared to 9% of people with a high school diploma (or less).
If you’re not sure how to find your target audience, you can utilize a platform like Sprout Social, which will give you an accurate depiction of your audience. Also, there are plenty of social media marketing companies that can help you determine where your audience lives on social media.
3. Post Exciting and Engaging Content Consistently
To be successful with social media, you’ll need to post engaging, educational and entertaining content that is relevant to your audience on a regular basis. You should be posting mostly original content, and then sharing content from other relevant publications/companies that your audience would enjoy.
In terms of how often to post, there is no magic number. Instead, you want to make sure you’re posting consistently. Experts say that it’s best to post to Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram one time per day, and to Twitter 15 times per day, since tweets have a shorter shelf life than posts.
Although it can be quite a challenge to post frequently, there are online tools that can assist you. Sites like Buffer, Hootsuite and HubSpot are designed to help you manage your social media presence across all of your platforms from one convenient place. The capabilities they offer include scheduling your social media posts ahead of time, collecting customer messages from all social media sites, allowing different members of your team to reply, showing page analytics and helping you curate relevant content.
4. Link Your Website to Your Social Media Pages
According to CNBC, only 55% of small businesses communicate news to customers and leads via a business website. Interestingly, 40% of small businesses do so via social media. If your business has a website, link your social media platforms to it. Make your social media channels are discoverable from your site by posting your social page icons at the top and bottom of your website. Invite visitors to “follow” and “like” your content. Place a “follow us” call to action at the end of every blog post.
Additionally, you should use link promotion tools, like AddThis.com, so visitors to your site can easily see how to follow you on social media. Sometimes, social icons get lost on a webpage, so inserting an additional reminder is going to make the icons stand out more.
5. Rise Above the Noise and Stand out
The guys in the fictional band Spinal Tap wanted to stand out from their hard-rocking contemporaries, so they made the volume level of their amplifiers go up to 11 instead of the conventional 10. It was one decibel louder than the rest. It was a silly move, but Spinal Tap was definitely onto something. So, what’s the lesson? Make sure you differentiate yourself from the other companies on social media. One way to do this is hire a social media marketing agency. These are specialists that have spent hours and hours, years even, collecting data; doing a/b testing, competitor analyses, and tracking results.
According to AdWeek.com, 88% of businesses are on social media. With so many businesses saturating social media, you need to find a way to turn it up to 11. Speaker and small business consultant Kedma Ough advises small business owners to remember that “social media is personal. It’s your personal brand first, and your job or business second. You need to convey your persona.”
The ways you can brand your persona include:
- Uploading your company logo as your profile picture and including another company picture as your cover photo
- Being consistent with the voice across platforms, including your website and your email newsletters
- Posting content that is relevant to your audience
- Posting photos that depict your unique company culture, such as pictures from your weekly happy hour or a fun team outing
- Make sure your branding is consistent across all platforms, meaning your logo, messaging, fonts, colors, etc. are the same