Social Media Marketing tips for Small Businesses

by Craig Boyle
Posted: January 22, 2019

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Social media has taken the world by storm. Out of a total population of 7.7 billion people, roughly 3.4 billion people are active social media users. That’s almost half of the entire world actively using social media. On average, people spend 116 minutes per day on social media.  

Those statistics make social an incredible, unavoidable platform for brands to communicate with their customers. But for many smaller businesses, using social effectively is tough despite their best efforts (81% of small and medium businesses use some kind of social platform).

Here are some of our top tips for maximising your usage of social media as a brand.

1. Create a plan and stick to it

Social media provides an enormous amount of opportunities, but it’s also easy to get lost and become sporadic in your approach. To focus your efforts, create a social media marketing plan. This plan should split each channel you use (Twitter, Facebook, Etc) and list out all of the actions you’ll take on each channel per month. You can use a scheduling tool such as Hootsuite to action this content in.

This schedule allows you to plan for key events. For example, a retail business could create content in advance for a Valentine’s Day sale. By incorporating these key dates into your calendar, you can ensure you don’t miss out on opportunities.

Your plan should be used to ensure there’s a consistent level of activity on your social media channels – but you should also regard it as a minimum and share new or relevant content whenever you find it.

2. Utilise video

One third of all online activity is spent watching video. Video content has fundamentally changed the way we consume online content, forcing marketers to adapt. As a small business, your ability to produce video is very limited – so instead try and utilise existing video that you think is applicable to your brand. If you sell products, manufacturers may also produce content you can reuse.

Remember, it’s quality over quantity – don’t overload your channel with irrelevant content. Stick to a few great videos a week and watch your engagement rate rise.

3. Communicate clearly and with honesty

Social media isn’t just about marketing your brand. It’s also a communication tool, one that allows you to send messages directly to customers and receive them in turn. Proactively checking your social media platforms for messages, responding promptly and engaging in relevant discussions will help improve your overall customer service and raise the reputation of your brand. However, there are a few rules to stick to:

  • Do have a personality – people want to believe they’re communicating with a person and not a brand. As a small business, you can be genuine, honest and relatable. Use this to your advantage.
  • Do have a sense of humour – but only when appropriate and when it suits your brand.
  • Do keep things civil – If a customer complains or says something derogatory, try and respond in a friendly manner.
  • Do always try to offer a response – don’t delete comments as a general rule, as this can make you appear untrustworthy.
  • Don’t block people – while social media does allow you to block users, you should only do this in extreme cases such as continued harassment, as it may make you look unwilling to resolve issues.

4. Make imagery a core part of your strategy

Whatever your business is, there’s always visual content that you can take advantage of to really boost your social presence. Posts that use imagery get far more attention than non-image posts. To begin using imagery, first audit all of the photography you’ve ever had done for your business. Then you should also ask any suppliers for marketing imagery. Finally, consult free stock image websites such as unsplash.com to find other uplifting images.

Once you have a library of images to start using, you can also experiment with personalising them using a free image editing tool such as Canva. You don’t need to be a photoshop whizz – but adding a few lines of text can be the difference between low and high engagement.

5. Monitor competitors

As a small business owner, you likely already monitor your competitor’s activities to track them against your own. With social media, it’s a good idea to see what your competition is doing and work out how best to better their efforts. You can also look at larger competitors who you ordinarily wouldn’t compete against just to gauge how to create a more effective social presence. You need to look at:

  • How they communicate with customers
  • What sort of posts they put out
  • How regularly they post
  • Which channels they utilise most
  • What sort of language and headlines they use

6. Offer something of value

Building a communicative platform for your business is only the first step. Unfortunately, getting people to actually follow you can be difficult. The best way to start building followers is to offer something of value. Whether that’s advice and tips or something more tangible like a competition prize, you need to ‘get the ball rolling’. After you start to build your initial follower base, simply maintaining a consistent brand presence will see followers rise.

7. Use influencers, sensibly

Influencer marketing is big, and for good reason – partnerships can be a great way to expose your brand to a huge new potential audience. However, they’re also a very expensive affair. For small businesses, choosing an influencer can be difficult. Choose the wrong one, and you may get a few extra visits to your site in exchange for a lot of money.

Done correctly, you’ll gain loyal new followers and hopefully, increase sales. The key is to choose an influencer with a highly engaged audience, who understands your goals and is willing to work with you on an effective campaign. A single advertorial mentioning your brand is often not enough.

Consider that an influencer with 100,000 followers who has a more general focus will often not get you the same results as someone with 10,000 dedicated followers interested in your niche.

8. Use targeted advertising

As a small business, using organic social is a way to maintain a consistent level of activity and build brand awareness. Paid boosts and social advertising instead allows you to target new customers, increase your audience and also sell your products. You can actively target audiences based on what they like, the location they’re in, what platforms they use and other elements.

As a small business, your budget is limited. Social ads are a great way to gain a large return on investment if you can genuinely understand which audiences will be interested in your brand and you can create an advertisement that speaks to these interests.

9. Measure and react accordingly

Small businesses don’t have the time to delve deep into analytics – but if you want to succeed with social, it’s important to track and measure what you’re doing. Each main social platform has its own internal analytical tools that will showcase your performance. Get into the habit of checking them even once a month, which will allow you to reflect on what is working and what isn’t. Look for things such as which day generates the most engagement, what posts have resonated with your audience and what drives the most traffic to your site.

Once you’ve collected this information, you also need to act on it. If certain posts aren’t working, adjust your plan. If things are going well, look at what is aiding performance and maximise it.

10. Focus on engagement, not followers

Total follower numbers are almost meaningless, considering many brands drive up their numbers with bots or followers who aren’t interested in their brand. As a small business, the most important metric is conversions and therefore your social should be a channel for driving engagement and click-throughs to your website. 10 new, engaged followers are more beneficial than 100 followers who will never interact with you.

By combining these tips, you can craft a basic yet effective social media strategy for your business over the course of a weekend. If you’d like to take things further and build more effective social skills, why not take part in the Diploma of Social Media – or send one of your employees on the course? By mastering social media for business, you can take advantage of an enormous potential audience and drive engagement, sales and positive customer sentiment to your business.

 

Interested in studying social media skills?

Enrol in the 10118NAT Diploma of Social Media course today to transform how you plan your social presence.

 

 

Craig Boyle
Craig is a copywriter working for Open Colleges. He's originally from the small city of Newcastle Upon Tyne in the UK, so he is enjoying exploring sunny Sydney. Craig's career passions include marketing, small business, tech, start-ups and leadership.

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