If you’ve questioned whether you need social media for your small business, the answer is YES! The goals of almost all small business owners are: get known, grow the business, and make a profit. One of the most effective ways to start doing this is by using social media.
Why Social Media?
Improve your marketing abilities:
- Social media is a free tool that you can take advantage of. With almost
everyone using the internet to research businesses, you should start using
social media to your benefit.
Traditional media is not as relevant as it once was:
- You don’t want to be the last one to jump on the social media bandwagon
when you realize you’re the last hold out. Don’t procrastinate when you
finally realize your expensive newspaper or magazine advertisements aren’t
generating much attention.
- Social media can target certain demographics and communicate to a niche
group of people. Analytics will help you determine who to target and what is
the best method of communication.
Who Has Time?
Time is precious, especially to a small business owner. There is no denying social media can be time consuming, but this can be easily managed by choosing an app such as Hootsuite or Buffer. These apps give you the ability to schedule posts on various social media platforms. If you sit down at the beginning of each week and decide what you want posted and when, you could easily schedule your entire social media presence for the whole week without having to spend time on it daily.
These apps are great for those starting off in the social media game and once you’ve mastered it you can consider graduating to tools such as Narrow.io and Twibble that are a bit more complex. After choosing which app you’d like to start off with, take time to explore and familiarize yourself with the details. This will make it easier and faster for you to set up your posts in the future. Keep in mind although these apps make it a breeze to automate many social media functions, being human is still vital. Your online audience needs to know that there is a real human being posting things, retweeting and making comments. Make sure to download the social media apps on your smartphone so you can receive notifications when there is activity on your business’s social media platform. Commenting, retweeting and liking your follower’s activities should happen in real time.
Testing The Waters
When starting out, it is recommended to do a few ‘trial posts’. This will enable you to test posting frequency, gauge how effective certain types of content is and even what time of day to post. Analyzing the results of these trial posts will help you determine how to go about with your social media planning.
Know Your Audience
Before you begin your social media endeavours figure out who your target audience will be. Look at the demographic of your existing client base and determine who you will be gearing your social media content towards. Once you decide who your target audience is, it will be easier to choose which social media platforms you should start off with. If you feel like the idea of bringing your business into the social media game is overwhelming start off with just one platform. The one platform all businesses should be on is Facebook. It takes mere minutes to create a business page and the long-term results will be well worth it. Use Facebook as your first step and then when you feel comfortable you can start exploring other platforms such as LinkedIn (a close second to Facebook), Twitter, Instagram, YouTube SnapChat, and many others.
Planning vs. Improvising
Some people prefer thinking on their feet and coming up with things on the spot. This may work for other aspects of your small business but in terms of social media, planning is usually the best route. Don’t let the thought of creating a social media plan overwhelm you – it can be as hard or easy as you make it. Even if it’s as simple as deciding that you’re going to make one post a week. Mark, it in your calendar and there you go – the start of your social media plan has come to life. You don’t necessarily have to spend hours coming up with a plan but you can use your improvisation skills to add onto to it day by day. Keep an eye out for local media, big news stories and industry happenings that you can post about. The most important thing to keep in mind: social media is timely. No one will care if you post an article or big industry news weeks after the fact – make sure any content that you put out there is relevant and avoiding pushing out junk just for the sake of posting something.
How Do I Know It’s Working?
Analytical tools can be extremely beneficial and are highly recommended. Like most business practises you want to see the results of the work you put in but nothing happens overnight. You can use analytical tools to track how many people are following you, which tags generate online activity and what methods you will want to try in the future. If you aren’t gaining the results you had hoped for, tweak your social media plan accordingly. Trial and error is the best way to go when determining what is most effective for your business.
How Do I Get People to Follow My Business?
Once your social media platforms are up and running it’s time to inform your clients. Use methods such as invoices, word of mouth, or even a simple sign at your cash register. If you print receipts when clients purchase products, consider adding a ‘find us on Facebook’ or ‘follow us on Twitter’ to it and make sure to point it out when handing your client the receipt. Another method is adding links to your social media platforms to the signature of your e-mail. Your clients will be more inclined to visit your page when they see that all it takes is just one click.
To be worthy of having people follow you, you need to gain followers and keep your audience interested. Creating a custom hashtag, running weekly or monthly contests, using polls, paying attention and reacting to your followers’ content will enable you to retain your following. For example, if you are trying to decide on a new product, a new name or a new brand, hosting a poll will make your followers feel like they have an opinion in your great new idea and will be more inclined to be active on your page. Many companies use this strategy and can be quite beneficial to their business decisions – it’s basically market research but free!
Another effective strategy is being involved in non-profit organizations. People want to see that your company is being socially responsible and contributing to society in a generous and helpful manner. All businesses are out to make a profit but is yours doing something to help those less fortunate? Hosting a fundraising event or donating a portion of proceeds from a certain product or service will get people talking positively about your organization. These types of initiatives can boost employee morale, attract top talent and increase networking opportunities.
Social media is the present and future of marketing and if you haven’t already jumped on board consider giving it a try and seeing what positive attributes it could have for your small business.