"Everyone can taste success when the going is easy, but few know how to taste victory when times get tough. "
- Byron Pulsifer
Social media is an undeniable part of personal and professional lives in this generation. When used effectively, social media can help set you apart and allow you to flourish regardless of the purpose you’re using it for.
In today’s day and age, where most people turn to online shopping, small businesses need to rethink their marketing and sales strategy so that they are not only able to keep up with the competitors but even gain a unique edge.
Done well, a small business can find its brand skyrocket. But without the right amount of consideration given to a social media marketing plan, the business ends up alienating customers and reducing prospects for growth.
Here, we will look at how small business owners can use social media to build and grow their business, engage old customers and attract new ones and much more.
Below are seven expert tips to help you ace your social media game as a small business :
Know your objectives and start with a plan
Social media is easy to use, but this doesn’t mean that you can jump in and start posting with no business strategy. To begin with, consider your priority marketing objectives ; what are your goals as a business?
Instead of using social media to simply spread the word about your business, draft a social media marketing plan that allows you to reach your goals as a business.
Consider these points for effective social media planning :
- Set social media goals; create goals that are SMART (specific,measurable,attainable,relevant and timely). This can be anything from attracting customers and raising sales, to increasing conversion rates.
- Research competition; Look into how your competitors are using their social media channels. Don’t copy them, instead learn from their successes and failures to refine your own plan.
- Create a calendar; knowing the best time to post in a particular channel is important to maximise the achievement of your goals. Having a calendar allows you to post the right content, at the right time to the right channel. The calendar also allows you to have a draft of content ready to go ahead of time.
Decides which platforms suit your business
Don’t assume where your audience spends most time. Don’t copy what another business might be doing. Instead research demographic information across all major social media networks.
This information isn’t be-all, end-all for choosing your platform. Use it to inform your decision and then go with a mix of whatever platforms you think will help reach a specific audience.
Build a reputation and know your audience
Cultivating a credible image as a business is a challenge both in social media marketing and offline.
In terms of social media, the most important part isn’t a massive following. What matters is having a loyal base of customers who trust your brand.
Collect data on your current customer base and then transition into the social media space by using analytics, to connect with the right audience.
Once you know who you are targeting, you can revisit your social media plan to create interesting, personalised concepts that will not only attract the audience you’re aiming for, but increase engagement enough to expand your audience.
Implement customer feedback
There is a common misconception that social media is meant to simply promote your business and bring in the likes. But for social media to really shape your business to the best it can be, learn to listen to your customers.
For a small business, one happy and satisfied customer can lead to many more through simple word-of-mouth. Social media can amplify this.
So think of your social media channel as a platform for open, two-way communication between a business and customer. Listen to your audience and take their feedback on board wherever possible.
Diversify your marketing and content
Remember attention spans on social media are generally short so keep your content and marketing ideas interesting.
First, focus on at least 2-3 sites rather than spreading yourself across every social media channel, this means you’re able to spend time crafting unique content for each platform to boost engagement and get best returns.
Secondly, consider visual or video marketing. Nothing captures a customer’s attention more than an innovative video or colourful image.
Remember to keep videos short but informative. Consider using compelling images with words or captions if you don’t go the video marketing route.
When you’re starting out, try to come up with content that follows the 80-20 rule, where 80% of your content informs, educates, and/or entertains and the other 20% promotes your brand or sells your products.
Show your personality and stand-out
Social media is an extension of your personal brand. The best to grow this brand? Be yourself but extend it to your business persona.
Make content that makes you happy and allows your customers to have a unique experience that they can’t find anywhere else – because the experience comes from YOU.
Appreciate your customers
Listening to your customers is one thing but appreciating them can further establish the two-way connection.
Don’t use social media to simply talk about yourself and your brand.
Instead use it to connect and support the people who have helped your business grow. Like and reply to their messages, follow them and let them know you appreciate them.
Using social media to grow your business can seem daunting and it certainly requires a lot of planning and refining. It is a long process that needs to constantly evolve alongside your business, but in the end the pay-off of happy customers and a booming business is worth it.