Social Media Marketing for Small Business
Social media is more than an online playground for people hoping for social interaction. These platforms are just as, if not more, impactful for businesses. According to recent research on social media marketing, “54% of social browsers use social media to research products.”
Aside from product research, people also use social media to connect with brands, learn more about the faces behind businesses, handle customer service issues, and make purchases.
This study on small and medium-sized businesses reveals that “more than three-quarters (77.6%) reported using social media to promote their businesses,” up from the prior year. As more and more platforms emerge, this number is only expected to grow.
In other words, social media isn’t going anywhere. If you don’t want your business to go anywhere either, leveraging social media the right way is a must.
Consistency is Key
You have to do something to stand out among all the competing content on social media. Starting with something as simple as a commitment to consistency can help. A consistent social media presence is crucial because you:
- Build a solid network
- Build authority in your industry and niche
- Have a better chance of beating algorithms
- Grow brand awareness
- Learn more social media marketing ideas for small businesses
Consistency could mean posting once a day, once a week, or somewhere in between, depending on your industry. Do your own industry research and determine when your target market is most active.
From there, utilize tools to help you plan and schedule your posts. With a content calendar, you can organize the who, when, where, what, and why of your social media posts for each platform. Social media scheduling software and applications can also help you automate your posts for publishing at a later date.
It’s worth remembering that a focus on quality is just as important as quantity and consistency — to that end, you should always be publishing quality content with a clear purpose.
Publish Unique and Engaging Content
You’ve probably heard that the secret to standing out on social media is publishing unique and engaging content. This is true, however, creating unique and engaging content isn’t the easiest thing to do. Digital marketing differs from traditional advertising in many ways, and you’ll have to do your research to engage your audience.
You may have to step out of your comfort zone and start experimenting with various media and content types. Whether you’re producing a content carousel, using video to reach your customers, or using stunning visual images to draw people in, your content should always be relevant to your brand and resonate with your target audience.
Here are a few content ideas to get you started:
- Retail small businesses can work with influencers to drive brand awareness with video product demos or reviews.
- Solopreneurs can ask their clients for user-generated content to share on their social media pages.
- Small creative agencies can share infographics to explain their services, industry news, etc.
- Small service-based corporations can leverage live-video Q&As with customers to spark two-way conversations or share behind-the-scenes content
One of the main things to remember as well is that you shouldn’t be shamelessly promoting your brand in every post. Those types of posts may be valuable to your brand, but they’re self-serving.
Post What Interests Your Audience, Not What Interests You
Posting what interests you will get you an audience of one. But if you want an audience of thousands, even millions, you’ve got to publish what interests your audience.
Your customers should feel your brand in your content, but it should also satisfy your customers’ content expectations, needs, and desires.
For instance, if you’re a small business that offers software products to other companies, white papers and case studies on LinkedIn are an excellent idea. Or, if you’re selling products to a younger audience, short-form product videos on Tik Tok might work.
To determine what content you should and shouldn’t post, you must first know and understand your target audience. Get to know their demographics, buying behaviors, pain points, goals, social media engagement, and content desires. Then, you can zero in on the content, media types, and platforms that will resonate most with your target audience.
Social media is ever-changing. As such, it helps to be open-minded throughout your social media marketing journey.
For example, it’s integral you embrace and participate in current social media trends. When you do this, you put yourself in the middle of what’s relevant. You also have an opportunity to set your brand apart with your creative spin on each trend.
You’ll also want to be open-minded regarding:
- When you publish content: If you’re not publishing content when your users are active, you’re not getting the most out of your posts. Figure out when that is, and publish consistently.
- What kind of content you publish: It’s natural to want to use your social media presence to promote, promote, promote — but that sort of self-serving interest misses the point of “social” media. Publish content useful and interesting to your audience.
- The media types you experiment with: Figure out whether your audience prefers video, text, audio, podcast, or image-based media. Utilize a combination of these media types and focus on the ones that work best and are engaged with most.
- The social media platforms you use: Alongside your audience’s preferred media type and post consistency, you need to figure out your audience’s preferred platform. Meet them where they are at, and then give them what they want.
- The data you collect and the insights you draw from it: Data permeates the world around us — if you’re not collecting and analyzing it, you’re missing out on a huge source of valuable information and insights. Be open to using this data and implementing strategies based on your findings.
- Who you work with: You may want to do everything on your own regarding social media marketing, but it may behoove you to hire a specialist or work with a third-party agency.
If you insist on doing everything on your own, or you are the person in charge of marketing for your small business, you might consider formal schooling on digital marketing.
Earn a Degree in Social Media Marketing
Formal education on social media marketing might help you learn the ins and outs of the industry. There are a host of institutions that offer undergraduate degrees focused on marketing, digital marketing, and social media marketing. Of course, many professionals already have an undergraduate degree — but that shouldn’t stop you from pursuing further education.
Any business professional can benefit from a general MBA program, which teaches core business strategies, concepts, and skills specific to business marketing in a modern, digital world. If you want to focus on identifying the right audience, overcoming cultural and language barriers, and breaking through the noise to make your message heard, you might go with the more specific MBA in Marketing. On the other hand, if you’d like to explore the latest advances in mass communications, 24/7 consumer engagement marketing, and the latest in digital strategies, you might pursue an MBA focused specifically on digital marketing.
Of course, there are a whole host of degree programs, graduate and undergraduate, that can help sharpen your skills in social media marketing. Just be sure that you thoroughly research the coursework, faculty, financial obligation, and other details crucial to your decision.
Keep an Eye Out for Algorithm Updates
A social media algorithm is essentially a set of rules that sorts the posts you see on your timeline based on relevancy.
Study your social media platforms and industry blogs and white papers to understand how these algorithms work. Sign up for email newsletters, subscribe to podcasts, and follow experts specific to social media and algorithms. Sometimes these algorithm changes are big enough that the company implementing the change will let their users know about it via their platform. Other times they are small, and only detected by social media marketing experts and agencies — pay attention to them.
Incorporate Social Media Goals into Your Business Plan
Creating a business plan is essential for any business that wants to be successful. There’s a section that helps you define your marketing strategy and goals. Detail your social media marketing strategy in this section.
First, define your social media goals. They should have specific key performance indicators and metrics attached. Then outline your overall social media strategy and plan for each platform. These goals might be related to follower count, engagement rate, conversion rate, or a whole host of other KPIs. Remember too, that even if you don’t hit these goals within your specified timeframe, you can always analyze and pivot. Figure out why and use the above tips to get yourself back on track.
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