Social media for small businesses can be easy, effective, and efficient. Do you find that hard to believe?
Well, the social media tips for small businesses I've included in this article will make it so!
Why should small businesses use social media in the first place? Simple...your customers are using it and if you want to reach them you need to be there too.
Check out this graph of social media users worldwide...
This graph clearly shows social media isn't going anywhere and its use will continue to grow.
Billions of people will continue using Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Instagram, and Google+ in the coming years and who knows what new platforms are going to pop up between now and then.
According to a 2014 survey, 88% of companies in the US are using social media for marketing.
Do you really want to be a part of the remaining 12% who can't keep up? I bet you don't.
I want to encourage you to use social media to grow your business and help you with these essential social media tips for small businesses.
If you don't set goals, then you'll have no idea whether your social media marketing is working.
Answer these question to help come up with your social media marketing goals.
What do I want to achieve from this?
How long will it take for me to achieve my goals?
What metrics will I measure to track my goals?
Be an architect and an engineer to reach your social media marketing goals. What do I mean by this?
When you set your social media marketing goals don't just stop there, make sure you implement strategies to achieve them. Commit to what you started and take the little steps required every day/week to reach your goals.
Social media marketing isn't a one-time event, it's an ongoing process.
Facebook started as a simple hobby before it became what it is today - a social media juggernaut.
With billions of people on Facebook today, it isn't hard to make a small business known globally. Social media platforms can catapult businesses from unknown to known with one viral post.
While some customers are still very traditional, most rely on social media and online reviews to know more about the legitimacy of a brand. This is one of the most important social media tips for small businesses...
without a social media presence potential customers might discount the legitimacy of your business.
Targeting very specific markets using social media can easily be done. If you want to reach your goals effectively and efficiently, you should study your audience based on their:
In other words, it would be helpful to create buyer personas.
Creating buyer personas will give you a clear picture of your ideal customer(s) with information like customer demographics, behavior patterns, motivations, goals, and needs.
The better you understand your ideal customer(s) the more clearly you can communicate with them and create relevant content.
Your social media handle or name has to be consistent on all sites. For example, here's the info for Rialto Mobile Marketing:
Twitter - @rialtomobile
Facebook - @rialtomobilemarketing
LinkedIn - Rialto Mobile Marketing
Pinterest - Rialto Mobile Marketing
Google+ - Rialto Mobile Marketing
They're not exactly the same, but pretty consistent across multiple platforms. Social media handles give your small business identity, security, SEO, findability, and reach.
What you share online reflects you and your small business. Your audience knows the difference between good and bad content.
There's a ton of content being published these days, but not a lot of great content. Standout by publishing information people find valuable.
Great content also makes your Online Reputation Management easier and more effective.
One of the reasons why a lot of small businesses fail in social media is because of brand misrepresentation.
Your social media content should always represent your brand. Share content that is relevant to your audience, that will build trust and loyalty and is in good taste.
For an example of what NOT to do just check out this post...
When followers get bored with you, they unfollow.
This can hurt certain goals like lead conversions, brand awareness, and sales. So how do you fight this?
Share content that is fun, useful, relevant, and engaging. Here are some examples.
Nobody wants to connect with a robot. Behind every social media account is a human being.
With social media for small businesses, it is always better to show the audience you're human by combining personality and content.
Never hesitate to have fun while doing business. Just keep in mind #7 above.
Written content is still very popular and incredibly effective, don't forget about all those people that respond to visuals!
Not all people enjoy reading books, blogs, newsletter, etc. I encourage small businesses to mix social media content with colorful and engaging visuals. Some examples of visual content are:
Many internet users prefer to consume video. In fact, according to Wyzowl.com 63% of businesses are using video as a marketing tool.
Here are a few of the benefits of video marketing:
Always remember that consistency is different from posting too much or too little online content.
You could lose subscribers if you regularly blast or deprive your audience of useful content. Check out this resource to determine how often you should post on social media.
However, any recommended posting frequency is just a guideline. You know your audience and some will require more or less than the recommendations.
The biggest mistake I see with social media for small businesses is having too many accounts at one time.
Here's a Social Media Marketing 101 trick: If you don't have the time to stay active on all your accounts then you are better off starting small and expanding to other networks as time permits.
Here are some tips to help you identify the best social media networks for your small business:
Social media for small businesses can get a little overwhelming if you don't have a plan.
Create a plan for how often you will post, what networks you will use, and the type of content you will share.
For example, a Facebook posting strategy might look something like this:
To save time, apply CCaS (Curate, Create, and Schedule) to your online content. The best part is that there are online tools you can use to apply CCaS.
For Content Curation:
For Content Creation:
For Social Media Content Scheduling:
Put clickable social icons, URLs, or usernames on your:
Social media can be great for building your business, but you don't own your social media pages.
What do I mean? You might have 1M Facebook followers, but if Facebook decides to change their policies the traffic you get may plummet overnight!
But, if you use your 1M Facebook followers to build your email list, then you've got a real asset that you own. Make sense?
There are many tools available online to help you manage social media tasks easier. Here are some online tools that you should check out:
Social media engagement is very important because it is a great way to show customers that there's a human behind that online profile.
However, it takes time and effort to build healthy and successful engagement. The chart below shows the key elements of Social Media Engagement:
Negative feedback can be constructive in a way that gives you an opportunity to improve your products and services.
Hearing bad comments about your business is tough, but it is a way to listen to customers and create healthy conversations around your shortcomings.
Don't get defensive! When you respond to feedback keep it professional and don't take anything personally.
The only thing worse than negative feedback is a defensive business owner who lashes out and tries to justify their actions on social media...not good.
Social media hasn't only become an avenue for marketing and advertising, it's also considered a customer service tool.
According to a 2016 survey by SproutSocial.com, 34.5% of people prefer social media to communicate with a brand.
Although the survey revealed a promising future for social media communication, brands reply to just 11% of people. This is an epic fail in my opinion.
If someone takes the time to communicate with your business on social media you will pay dearly if they hear crickets.
It's easy to commit mistakes in the internet world.
A click of a button can change the course of a marketing campaign from good to really bad. Let me tell you some remedies to handle these hiccups.
If your account was hacked...
Then secure all your accounts, change your passwords, and ensure that no confidential information was leaked.
If you posted something offensive…
Then delete the content, apologize, learn from it, and determine the posts that won’t isolate current and potential customers.
If a customer is complaining about your business…
Then acknowledge the writer’s concerns, offer ways to resolve the issue, or ask the customer to reach out to your business so you can further discuss the issue privately.
If you posted information that was incorrect or misleading…
Then delete or update any posts with misinformation.
If you’ve been ignoring your customers…
Then make it a priority to respond to your customer’s social media comments, thank them for their loyalty, or even offer them a coupon or reward.
If your social media marketing goals don't include increasing web traffic then something needs to change.
Social media can improve website visits when done right. I have a few tips:
Don't get discouraged if you are having a hard time building an audience for free (organically).
Despite what some people may say, it's incredibly difficult to build a large audience on social media without investing in paid advertising.
In fact, even businesses with large followings are seeing organic engagement going down on many social channels. This means they are having to pay to promote their content to get the same reach they had before.
Like it or not, social media is quickly becoming a "pay to play" game for businesses large and small.
Aside from making money from social media, small businesses can also promote social responsibility.
If your company stands for something or supports an important cause make sure people know about it. Giving back to the community is as important as generating profit.
If your company supports a local charity, post information about the company recently volunteering, etc. This will let people know you are human and care about something, which will create engagement for your business long term.
How do you know if your social media campaigns are working?
Use analytics tools.
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest have their own analytics tools that you should take advantage of. Let these tools:
It's easy to check out your competition on social media. All you have to do is pull up their page.
You've got a chance to level up your game by analyzing how competitors are doing with social media.
Improve your strategy by gathering and using the data you collect. You can also draw inspiration from their strengths and weaknesses, and apply it to your own benefit.
What should you do when you're just starting with social media? Follow some of the strongest leaders in your industry.
Honestly, you can learn from anyone that has a large following on social media.
They didn't get a huge following by accident. They're doing at least some things right, and you can learn by paying attention to what they're doing.
There's nothing wrong with failing, especially in social media marketing. If your strategy didn't give you results the first time, then it's time to do the following:
Review your posts so you know what worked and what didn't.
Test new strategies. Post different types of content, different topics, etc. to see what your audience responds to.
Repeat the process.
Ask yourself these questions:
Do I have the time to do social media marketing?
Do I have the experience to be successful in social media marketing?
Do I have the patience to learn social media for small businesses?
If you answer "NO" to at least one of these, then it's time to hire an expert to work on your social media marketing.
So, those are my 29 essential social media tips for small businesses. Gaining momentum in social media can take time, but with the right strategy and persistence, you will get there.
What do you think of this list? Did I miss anything?
Feel free to comment below or share.
Tim Fitzpatrick is the President of Rialto Mobile Marketing. At Rialto Mobile Marketing we create marketing systems to help small businesses achieve simple, sustainable growth. We help small businesses differentiate themselves from the competition, work with more ideal clients, command a premium for their products and services, and make marketing easier with consistent, repeatable results.