This blog was originally published in April 2014. We gave it a 2018 refresh!
Social media has worked its way into our lives, becoming part of the fabric of society and how we communicate. If your business isn’t on social media, you’re missing countless opportunities to reach your existing and potential customers.
Your customers are already online and talking about you with their friends and family. Join the conversation, create influence and make social media work for you.
Maybe you’ve just started your business. Maybe you’ve been on social media for a while, but haven’t experienced much success. Wherever you’re at, here are some social media tips for small businesses.
Related: Be more social. Do less marketing.
TOP TEN TIPS TO HELP YOUR SMALL BUSINESSES GET SOCIAL.
TIP 1: KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE
Knowing your audience is essential for social media success. It’s easy to post a picture that you think is pretty, or write a blog about a cool new piece of technology, but if it doesn’t mean anything to your audience, it’s pretty useless. It’s a waste of your resources, and can actually deter your audience from engaging with you.
When creating social media content, you need to know who you’re trying to attract, and intimately. It doesn’t end there, though. It’s not enough to only understand who you’re talking to, but what their interests are, what motivates them and what frustrates them. When you know your audience, you can make an informed decision about which social media channels you should be using and what content will resonate with them.
The most effective way to do this is by creating audience personas. Think about your ideal client. Your current client. That market you’re looking to break into. Who is likely to be interested in your product or service? Ask yourself the following questions:
- Are there trends in the people who make enquiries to your business?
- What are their motivations for seeking the product or service?
- How does the product or service help them?
- What frustrates them?
- What excites them?
- What education level do they have?
- What is their income?
- Where do they live? Where do they aspire to live?
- What do they do on the weekend?
- Do they have a family?
- Do they have pets? Do they want pets?
It may seem like information overkill, an exercise that just saps your time. Focusing on these details may seem arbitrary or insignificant, but they’re what turn your data into people. Only when your data becomes a person can you truly relate and build relationships.
Audience personas should be the foundation of every marketing activity you undertake. An audience-centric approach means you create all message and content around what will help your audience. To do that, you need to know who they are. When you have successfully identified your audience, creating content for them can become a simple process.
TIP 2: SET GOALS
What’s measured, improves. It is an old, over-used adage, I know. When using social media, every post should be purposeful, useful to your audience and work to achieve your business goals. Conducting careful analysis is essential in perfecting your content types, post times and the vibe of your feed.
Consider why your business is on social media. Chances are, it’s because you have limitless opportunities to communicate on a personal level with your existing clients and potential clients. To accurately set goals, you need to get more specific than identifying something as broad as “regular communication”. Are you using social media for awareness? Leads? To build a community? An online portfolio? As a way to humanise what might seem like a “cold” company?
When you set your goals, you can establish measurable objectives around engagement, clicks and relationships. Determine what social media success means to you, how you will measure it and how it aligns with your wider marketing and business plan.
Always ensure your social media goals work to achieve your business objectives. Social media should work as an integrated part of your business – the real magic happens when you get the two working in harmony.
TIP 3: ADD VALUE
No one likes someone who just talks about themselves all the time! People are attracted to people who are interested in them – the kinds of people who ask about your day, show interest in what you’re interested in and help you along your journey. The same principle applies to social media. Don’t just spam clients with info about yourself. No matter how cool you might be, this “coolness” will wear off after a while.
Some tips to get to know your audience and add value:
- Ask your audience what they’re interested in. Instagram polls are a fun and easy way to do this!
- Get to know your audience personally by reading and responding to their comments.
- Share tips and tricks. If you offer a cleaning product, post tips on how to get the most out of it, or some unusual ways to use the product. If you’re a health food company, educate your audience on the benefits of you’re the ingredients in your products. Invest in their lives and their goals.
TIP 4: GET CREATIVE AND BE AUTHENTIC
Stock images have a time and a place. Social media isn’t it. Your social media presence should be an authentic insight into your business; showcasing your people, your offering and your brand in a creative way. There is nothing less authentic than using stock images for all your social media posts!
Investing in high-quality images and video will pay off for your business. The most budget-friendly way to create content is by prioritising what content to create, and when. For example, what content can get you quick wins, and what requires more time.
Content creation doesn’t have to be a time consuming, budget-sapping, expensive exercise. With the right team, there are countless creative and effective content creation solutions. One key tip? Create content that will work across multiple platforms, can be targeted to multiple audiences and has the ability to be repurposed several times in creative ways.
When your audience feel like you’re investing in them with content that is helpful, inspirational and authentic, they’re more likely to invest in your business. Show them some love, and you’ll receive it back.
TIP 5: DON’T DO IT ALL
For most small businesses, it’s not possible to be effective on every social media platform. Play to your strengths, and make sure you use the platforms that are most relevant to your audience.
When creating content for social media, trying to reach everyone isn’t realistic and is a dangerous trap to fall into. It can be costly to your budget and success. If you spread yourself too thin by utilising all the social media platforms available to you, you won’t have time to create effective content and build and nurture the communities that are key in social media success.
To make the best use of your resources, prioritise who you want to speak to and create content that works for them. This should form the foundation of your goals, your channel usage, and the messaging of your content.
It is essential to set realistic expectations for your resource level. If you don’t, you’ll end up failing and lumping your social media plan in the “too hard basket.”
TIP 6: DON’T OVER-PROMOTE
Social media isn’t for constantly asking people to sign up or buy your product or service. Save yourself the heartache of a failed social media plan – don’t spam people with constant sales-speak. Instead, focus on being social and creating brand love.
Social media is a place to nurture relationships, build trust, influence purchasing intent and remain top of mind so when a need arises a client will remember you! As a starting point, we recommend the 80/20 rule. Be 80% social and 20% promotional.
Related: Smart Ways To Social Media
TIP 7: ENCOURAGE COMMENTS AND REVIEWS
Social media platforms provide an easy and effective way to gain and encourage comments. Reviews and comments can act as social proofing, adding value and authenticating your business.
Some businesses are often so cautious about receiving bad reviews that they don’t allow customers to post reviews at all. We always recommend that you allow reviews – good and bad! Clients are more likely to review a bad experience than a good one, but you should never delete a bad review.
A bad review is an opportunity to showcase your awesome customer service. Simply send a nice, well thought out reply and get the keyboard warrior offline so you can talk to them in person, over the phone, or even just via email. When they are reminded they are dealing with a real person, people who make a negative complaint are more inclined to be willing to work with you to achieve a mutually beneficial result. This also allows the customer to feel respected and valued.
When responding to negative feedback, you have the opportunity to demonstrate that you are accepting of feedback and that you value all of your customers.
TIP 8: BUILD A GOOGLE PLUS PAGE
The dark horse of social media channels, Google Plus, has countless benefits for small businesses, primarily its ability to increase visibility. For businesses on Google Plus, you can post images, links and updates, much like you do on other social platforms.
An effective Google Plus profile can increase your “real estate” on a Google Search result, influencing the likelihood of getting noticed amongst the competition. If you have a business location, it will be listed on Google maps via Google My Business.
When you use Google My Business, Google users will be displayed a “call now” button and a button to get directions to your business from their location.
TIP 9 – COMMIT AND BE ACTIVE
If you create social media profiles and schedule out some content, you’re not going to see any results. Fact.
You need to commit to investing time engaging with your followers. The best way to do this depends on the channel and your audience. Some key ways to create an engaged audience includes:
- Like and reply to all comments
- Like and comment on tagged photos
- Let your audience get to know you! You can have fun with your Instagram stories or live Facebook videos.
- Reply to messages as quickly and thoughtfully as possible
- Engage with similar accounts (even your competitors!)
- Share your client’s photos.
- Invite people to give feedback through polls.
- Encourage the sharing of experiences and discussion by asking questions.
Being active and interested in others will make them interested in you. Social media marketing is all about communication – and the best communication is ALWAYS two-way.
TIP 10 – USE MANAGEMENT TOOLS
Never, ever panic-post! Plan your content calendar and schedule your content ahead of time. This will save you time, maintain the quality of your content and ensure your content is working to achieve your goals.
There are a variety of tools available for use. We love HootSuite, Sprout Social and Schedugram… to name a few. The best tools for your business will be dependent on your goals. You might be after content and conversation monitoring, in-depth reporting, an effective post-approval process or RSS feed tracking. Getting to know what works for you, your team and your business will be worth the research and trial time.
Bonus Tip – ADAPT AND DEVELOP
Social media is fluid and rapidly changing. The algorithms are updated regularly, your audience constantly changes how they use socials and the trends change on the daily. Don’t let this scare you away, just be aware that you need to be agile and ready to adapt.
Everything you read and learn about social media is a guide – there isn’t a one-size fit all solution. There are recommendations surrounding best practice and some expert insights, which can add value to your business and socials but shouldn’t be taken as gospel.
For example, you might read a blog that says posting to Facebook between 2 pm and 4 pm is best for engagement, but you know your target market is stay-at-home mums who are likely to be doing the school pick up at this time and you don’t think it’s likely they will be online during this time. Check if this is consistent with your Facebook Insights. If the analytics indicate your audience is online earlier in the day, then you’ll know to post earlier at that time, regardless of the other recommendations. Always place your audience first.
Four steps to deciding the best times to post:
- Who is the target for the post? Select which persona it is most relevant to.
- Knowing your persona’s schedule and life, what day and time are they most likely to be online and available to engage with a post?
- When do your analytics indicate that particular persona is online?
- Combine your persona knowledge and data to decide on a post time.
SOMETHING WORTH REMEMBERING!
Social media is not a stand-alone tool. It should be integrated with the rest of your marketing activities, whether they be online or offline. Not sure how to create consistent brand message across all the channels? We’ll help!
Want to chat about how our team can help with your socials? Get in touch.