Social media is one of the key pillars of your digital marketing strategy. Done right, social media can bring huge success to your marketing efforts allowing your small business to attract, convert and retain customers. So what are you waiting for?
You're probably asking 'where and how does one begin using social media to generate sales?'
Let's start with the basics; choose the best social channels for your business by researching your target audience and their activities. Social media is about people, relationships, conversations and content. There is no short cut to getting social media right. You need to take time to listen, research and understand your audience, what they are saying, how they are engaging and trying to understand what exactly it is they need from you.
Tip: You don't need to be active on all social channels. It's best to focus on a few and do them well. Without frequent, meaningful and targeted posts, tumbleweed social pages can do more harm than good; an inactive Facebook page or Twitter feed which hasn't been updated for months leaves customers with a bad impression and they'll look elsewhere.
When content is authentic and executed successfully, it should lead to more engagement across your social profiles.
Become more socially aware
To get the most from what can be a highly cost-effective form of marketing, it's worth having a medium to long-term social media strategy for your small business.
This gives your social media efforts a chance to grow and evolve - and being able to measure its effectiveness over time means you can experiment with content to make it increasingly effective. There are 5 important areas to look at:
Goals: Identifying your audience, planning content and advertising are all parts of your social media strategy. However, underpinning all these should be your goals. Decide what you want your social media pages to achieve and set measurable goals, including reach and impressions, engagement, link clicks, demographics, website traffic and audience growth and unfollows.
Audience: decide which platforms are most likely to have your customers. Facebook is king when it comes to sheer daily user numbers and time spent on the site. Depending on your audience, Twitter also has considerable reach and Instagram has been proven to have a very high level of engagement with followers, compared to other social networks. This is where 9 Spokes can help; by adding apps such as MailChimp, Google Analytics, Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter to your smart dashboard you can monitor the success of your marketing activities and how they are affecting your audience and social following, and all in one place.
- Unique content: work out the type of content which is most likely to connect with your customers. Is it product-led, advice and tips, thought-provoking ideas or humour? It could be a combination of all those things. You should also keep things fresh by mixing up the ways you deliver your messages, whether its text with an image, video or GIFs. Currently social media is becoming fascinated with live, authentic content. Millennials love video content and are the most active video viewes of any age group in the U.S. in 2016 and they're not likely to slow down in 2017.
Remember, one size doesn't fit all. You should tailor your tone, message length and image size for each social channel to suit the platform and audience. Put your focus on quality over quantity; a few original posts per week may be enough. Live video content is another innovative way to talk to your audience. Facebook and Instagram recently launched their live video streaming services that lets anyone broadcast live videos from their mobile device straight to their Facebook News Feed or Instafeed.
Staying relevant and finding new content ideas can sometimes be a challenge, so pre-planning what you are going to publish with a calendar helps ensure each post has purpose rather than being just a filler. It's not just about giving, it's also about listening. Its a great opportunity to learn from peoples' reactions to your content, to see what customers are saying about your brand, about competitors and what they think of your service.
- Advertising: in addition to growing followers organically through your great content, another way to get your social media pages buzzing is through paid advertising. With lots of online advertising choices available, where are small business owners spending their money? Right now Facebook is the clear winner. Facebook offers various ways to promote your brand, including page promotion, sponsored posts and boosted posts. Key drivers of social media advertising programs are things like comfort, ease of use, affordability and audience segmentation. To start advertising on Facebook, you need a Facebook Page to make use of Facebook Ads.
Hashtags are a big part of your social media marketing particularly on Twitter and Instagram. It is a great way of labelling and finding social media updates. It makes it easy for your audience to find content and allows you to find relevant content from other people and businesses. Using a hashtag allows you to engage and connect with potential customers based on common interests.
Hashtags can increase awareness and your social shares, it will also get your content seen by more people than just followers. By simply creating a #hashtag for your social content, you can increase your audience and reach more customers.
Hashtags are good for user generated content and a good example is Air New Zealand UK. They use the hashtag #AirNZShareme which is a very cost effective way of generating free content to reuse. A hashtag is a powerful social tool and have the potential to reach entirely new audiences and get involved in conversations outside of the brand. So make sure your hashtags are unique and memorable.
TIP! Looking for a hashtags to find people in the small business space, simply use #smallbizchat, #socialmedia or #BizTips.
This blog post is part of a series on digital marketing, where social media is a key focus point to help small businesses succeed. Social media is a tool like many others at a small business' disposal. It's unique in that it can heighten one's visibility, expand one's reach, and engage current and future customers. But it can only goes to work if used properly. Good luck!