Until a few years ago, the online presence of your business was mostly defined by the page rankings of your website on search engines. It was about building the backlinks and leveraging the keywords. While search engines are still the most prolific platforms to get more customers to your website, social media has also emerged as a key adjunct.
Most people, who really matter to your business, are probably on social networks. Even senior citizens, who are usually averse to technology, spend more time on social networks than on other websites.
If you want your brand name to reach a wide spectrum of audiences from across the net, then you will need to give it a very strong and carefully considered social media presence.
Now, because there are so many brands and companies competing for the buyer attention, you will need to develop a way to cut through the crowd. You will want to stand out, and make sure that people take notice of what you have to offer. Please be reminded that, this is not the same as buying more followers and likes on Twitter and FaceBook.
There are many ways to leverage social media for small business. If you implement the strategies properly, your efforts will surely yield more customers, and higher conversion rates.
Here are some of the most proven ways to build a steady audience on social networks for your business. They will not guarantee success, but will increase the odds in your favor.
1) Find Your Audience
The first step towards making a mark in social media with your potential customers is to identify the sources where they are most active. If your customers are mostly teenagers, then you will find them mostly on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. If you are running a B2B company, then you are more likely to find your niche audience on networks like Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and more.
There are plenty of social networks out there, but if you want to gain more followers, you will need to choose the best few suiting your business, and focus totally on them.
Here is what you can do:
- Research your demographic and use analytics and monitoring tools to find which social networks your target audiences use the most
- Pick the top 2 or 3 and go about focus your efforts on building your presence across these social media platforms
It will be tempting to hire a social media consultancy and go all out, building your pages on every social network out there. However, this will dilute your message. You want your presence to grow organically.
2) Choose the Correct Channels
The best recommendation for using social media for small business owners is to choose the right medium. Most people use FaceBook to keep in touch with the world, but not everybody does. The same goes for Twitter. Although you keep hearing about them dozen times a day, there are legions who have never visited Twitter at all.
- Experiment with multiple but carefully chosen social media platforms
- Create useful content for your potential customers, and see which platforms generate more active responses from users
Most importantly, consider email as another channel to leverage social media. Email marketing is considered to be old school, but it still drives in a lot of responses. Add social media interactions to your emails, and links to discussion threads, so that receivers can start interactions right from the emails.
3) A consistent cross media brand
Whether you are using billboards, PPC, video sites, or social networks, your brand should be clearly defined in all your marketing efforts. Social media is a great awareness platform, but it ultimately leads your customers to your website and other places, where they can guy products.
If you check out most of the social media for small business tips they tend to ignore some key aspects. These basics will help you channel your marketing efforts in the right track.
You will need to have brand standards and guidelines for all platforms. For example, you will need to be consistent with the usage of your logos and color themes across both, your social media pages, and your website. This will help customers identify your brand clearly, whenever they see it.
There are two ways to reinforce your brand and make it more memorable.
- One is bombarding them with spam, ads, and emails.
- The other is to keep a consistent brand, and make sure it shows up at the right places.
The latter strategy will always earn you more respect from your potential and existing customers.
4) Develop a genuine content strategy
It is not like, you create a social media page, and people will come flocking to you. Even when you create viral campaigns, there is no guarantee that people will keep coming back, and follow your posts. A viral social media strategy will bring users to your page once, but good and interesting content will keep them coming back, and eventually generate brand loyalty.
You can also take assistance for content development from professional companies that specialize in social media for small business marketing. They can help you analyze what kind of content will interest customers, and what will make your pages truly helpful.
Your content can include:
- Useful updates regarding your products or services
- Regular announcements, so they can keep track of your releases and learn more about your company
- Tidbits that will give them an inside peek into your company, so that you can build a rapport with them
These are not hard and fast rules, but strategies that have proved to be successful for many small businesses, over a period of time.
5) Make your presence useful
This follows closely on the heels of a content strategy. When you want to leverage social media, you will want to give people some genuine reason to follow you on Twitter, FaceBook, YouTube, or any other platform. The details of this strategy are very specific to the type of business you run, and according to what your customer-base it.
Here are the questions that you will want to answer for your users, so that in turn, they feel that following your posts will help them.
- Will it save my time if I follow their posts instead of other brands
- Are their posts of any tangible help to me, in choosing or using their products
- Do I save money if I follow their posts?
Your customers will not ask these questions directly, but these factors influence their decision making. For instance, if you are actively responding to customer questions on your Facebook, Google+ or Twitter, they have plenty of reasons to follow you.
6) Don’t repeat content
In the interest of keeping their social media presence active, many companies resort to poor tactics like presenting the same information in different ways, by using multiple posts. However, this is a bad strategy because:
- It does not give customers any new information
- Followers may ultimately lose interest in your pages and stop following them
- It falsely inflates your social media analytics numbers, and will drive you towards adopting the wrong measures in future
The best way to update social media for small business is to create posts only when new information is available. If you find yourself short of announcements, then you can create interesting videos and infographics that will help reinforce your message, and keep users engaged.
7) Share links generously
The whole internet is built on the foundation of links. It is important that you make the best of them, in order to keep users up-to-date with your activities.
You can share links to:
- Your blog posts
- Other social media posts
- Videos on YouTube or Vine
- Product pages where people can buy or subscribe
Also share links to help pages where they make sense. The more relevance your contents are, the greater are your chances of keeping the followers interested.
8) Monitor, Measure, and Analyze
Once you have a social media strategy in place, you don’t blindly implement it. Keep monitoring your posts constantly and see:
- What kind of posts generate the most views, likes, and responses
- Which ones lead directly to more sales
- What posts generate negative responses
- Which platforms are giving you the best conversion rates
All these metrics will tell you where you need to tweak your strategies, and make small adjustments and improvements, in an ongoing manner.
9) Keep an eye on competition
Your social media presence does not exist in a vacuum. It is competing with other businesses in the same domain. If you want to be ahead of the curve, you will need to understand the strategies of others as well. You will find what works for them and what doesn’t.
You don’t need to copy their successful strategies blindly, but you can use them on your social media interactions smartly. You will have a better idea of how this works, once you gain more experience of using social media for small business.
10) A sustained campaign
Social media is not a ‘set it and forget it’ platform. You cannot create a campaign, sit back, and relax, once it ends. Remember that you are competing with multiple other businesses for buyer attention. You need a social media plan that you can keep implementing throughout the year.
Alternatively, you may want to hire a specialist social media firm to make sure that you have a sustainable strategy. Many companies also hire specialized staff to work full time on just social media. This is a good idea is you have the financial resources. Your campaign will then be headed by someone who knows how valuable social media is, and how to wring the most value out of the platforms.
Let me know what do you think or if you feel that I have left some points out…please comment.