Danielle St. Cyr
Top 5 Tips for Using Social Media for Your Small Business
Social media is an excellent way for a small business to develop relationships with their customers and potential customers, build trust, and grow organically. But there are some “rules of engagement” that will help you get good ROI and craft a compelling brand image online.
Create a social media plan
While social media is very user friendly, and it’s easy to just start posting, you’ll have better, more measurable results if you first develop a social media plan. You need to figure out who your target audience is, and what their needs and concerns are. In order to judge success, you’ll need to have clearly stated goals and objectives (use SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely). If you’re already using social media, do an audit to take a critical look at your existing efforts, keeping what’s working well, and leaving the rest behind. There’s no use trying to make something work that just isn’t the right fit for your business. Take a deep dive into the efforts of your competition – are they using tactics that seem to be successful? If so, there’s no rule that says you can’t also use those techniques and put your own unique spin on them!
Know your audience
In order to fine tune any kind of social media strategy, you have to know everything about your target consumers. How old are they, what kinds of things do they care about, what problems do they have? Understanding your audience will enable you to finely tune your messaging to get the best results. This means the specific language you use, the images you post, and even the time of day that you post, plus so many more variables. There’s no use putting out a message that won’t appeal to your target audience – it just won’t be effective.
Do some investigation, and decide what platforms make sense for your business
You want to meet your customers where they are – so finding out where your target audience likes to spend time on social is a crucial step. You may think that Facebook is mostly for older (read: grandma) consumers – but 84% of millennials still use Facebook regularly*. While it’s true that Instagram and Snapchat definitely have younger and more engaged audiences (18-24 year olds are the largest cohort*), it makes a difference if you are B2C or B2B. Those very engaged consumers might buy your B2C product, but you need to evaluate if they are likely to be company decision makers if you are a B2B company. Many brands use Facebook to grow their customer base, and Instagram for social commerce**. The point is: you can’t get your message out to your potential customers if they never see it – so find out where they are!
Use social media to build relationships
The beauty of social media is that every platform allows you to develop a meaningful relationship with your customers and potential customers by speaking directly to them. This relationship develops over time, so it’s not like a cold call asking for an immediate sale. You have the ability to interact directly with individuals, which helps to build trust – trust that often means both an eventual sale AND good word-of-mouth referrals to grow your customer base. As more people follow you on social media, you get a boost in the social algorithms, which leads to more free exposure and more growth. Be sure you respond to people’s comments and questions on your posts so that they know you are listening, not just broadcasting.
Quality is more important than quantity
There’s always a temptation to have a presence on all social media channels, but that’s not really the best strategy. It usually means that none of the content on any of the channels is really top-notch stuff – you’re just spread too thin. It’s better to focus on a few channels that really make sense for your company, and make each post shine. In order to keep people engaged and excited about your posts, you have to offer them something of value. A constant stream of sales posts will turn people off; it’s like seeing 6 commercials on TV for the same product, with just small tweaks. Your followers will leave you. Try to educate your followers, about your products, yes, but also about what you’ve learned that they are interested in or current events or volunteer work you employees are involved in or… There’s so much potential valuable content your company can provide, so don’t overdo the pitches.
Social media can be a tool that helps your business grow and thrive, if you do it with purpose and a plan. You learn so much valuable information about your audience, information that can help you tweak current offerings or even develop new products or services. And when you do it right, it’s not a chore – it’s actually really fun! Contact us and we can help you get started!
* Sources: Pew Research, Statista, We Are Social