These days, most of your potential customers will visit your social media profiles before heading to your website or brick-and-mortar store. Why? To get a better understanding of your brand before they decide to do business with you.
Throughout 2019 however, social media has become even more difficult for small businesses. Changes to the algorithms has seen paid reach fall dramatically, while business profiles that prioritise authentic engagement and organic growth have made steady progress.
Here are the 5 keys to social media success for your small business!
1) Understand Content Marketing
Content marketing is all about providing ongoing value to your existing and potential customers in a way that has nothing to do with selling your products or services. Rather than just promoting your product or services all the time, content marketing means that your small business can also provide education, information, entertainment and (most importantly) empowerment.
This powerful marketing technique creates customers who trust you deeply, who buy more, buy faster, buy again, and even do some of your marketing for you. Your product isn’t important here; your communication is. Social media is an important part of your overall content marketing strategy, which is all about building relationships and a community around your small business.
2) Create a Social Media Plan and Set Goals!
This should be part of your overall marketing strategy, but so many small businesses just jump online without a plan. With a solid plan in place, your business has a much greater chance to profit from social media – which is what we all want, right?
The first step in developing a social media strategy is to get to know your audience. What kind of people are you trying to connect with on each social media platform? Creating a user persona profile for each kind of potential customer will help you know what messages you need to communicate, as well as which hashtags to use.
To set goals, you’ll need to take an honest look at your current social media situation by using the in-built analytics provided to business profiles. What is your data telling you?
- What kind of posts are getting the most engagement?
- Which posts drive the most traffic to your website?
- What kind of social media content is converting your online audience into paying customers over the long term?
In order to boost your small business social media success, you will need to take stock of where you are now, then set clear objectives and goals you want to achieve within a specific time frame.
Keep in mind that it’s possible for your posts to get a lot of engagement without necessarily resulting in immediate sign ups, sales or other conversions. That’s ok! Social media is all about building the long-term relationship by providing great content. Over time, your audience will trust you and associate your business with value and thought leadership; so when it’s time for them to make a purchase, they’ll choose you over your competitors.
Long-term goal idea: Establish your small business as an authority on certain topics, so that within your niche, your brand becomes a trusted source of information.
3) Keep it Social with Real, Genuine Engagement
Driving engagement is one of the keys to successful social media marketing. The ability to engage with your audience of existing and potential customers is what sets social media apart and makes it so powerful. This simply isn’t possible with most forms of advertising.
Social media engagement is such a useful tool. It provides you with the information and insight your business needs to evolve and better serve your future and existing customers. However, the first hour of a post going live is critical, so it’s important to focus on engagement early on to boost the reach and longevity of your post. Otherwise, your great content will be drowned out by the billions of other social media accounts.
So – here are the rules of engagement:
- Keep it social and focus on genuine connections to drive organic growth
- Be proactive and interact with social media users who mention your business
- React positively and respond to customer questions in a timely manner
- Pay attention to the conversations happening on your social pages
- Identify and connect with influencers in your industry! Influencer marketing can be powerful when done correctly.
- Share relevant content from other accounts
- Dedicate around 30 mins a day to engagement
It’s a lot isn’t it? Like many small business owners, you may not have the time or the headspace to do this every day. If this is the case, outsourcing these tasks to a Social Media Manager will be a great investment for your business. Remember, social media for small business is all about building a community around your brand – it’s not easy, but it’s worth the effort!
Bonus tip: While you’re engaging with your audience, keep an eye on your competitors! Learn from what they’re doing well, look at their audience, and refine your point of difference.
4) Use video!!!
Video is continuing to become more and more powerful across all social media platforms. If you’re not sharing video content on your small business social accounts, then it’s time to start! Video is one of the most versatile and profitable digital marketing tools out there, and it can help your business become an industry authority.
There are many reasons why video is so effective, but the most important reason is that videos help build trust. Your audience loves to feel a real connection with the people behind the business, so don’t be shy! Rather than adding another annoying, sales-y video to the mix, share more authentic, unedited, real-time, behind-the-scenes stories with your audience. Let them get to know you!
Bonus tip: Repurpose existing content from your website and turn it into short, shareable videos. If you’re brave enough to do live videos, that’s even better!
5) Aim to Generate Traffic and Leads
It’s becoming quite common for small businesses to set up a couple of business pages on social media platforms and completely bypass creating their own website. While your social media accounts are very handy to have, it’s really important to remember that you don’t actually own them. It’s never a good idea to build your online presence exclusively on ‘rented land,’ and it’s helpful to keep in mind that social media isn’t necessarily a permanent solution.
The real reason for small businesses to be on social media is to increase leads. In other words, start using social media as a tool to drive people to your business website and convert them into email subscribers and paying customers. Advanced targeting will allow you to generate highly qualified leads, and promoting gated content is a great place to start.
Gated content is literally hidden behind a virtual gate. To create gated content that works, it not only needs to be educational, empowering or entertaining, but you really need to have a deep understanding of your target market’s values and interests. If your gated content is valuable enough, interested readers will be willing to provide some basic contact information in exchange for access. These readers are your qualified leads.
Bonus tip: Outbound links are the links to your website you include in a social media post. Social platforms want users to stay on their platform, rather than leave and go to your website. So naturally, the algorithms favour posts without outbound links, which means your post with outbound links don’t get nearly as much visibility or reach.
Posts with link ‘previews’ perform poorly, so only include text and hashtags in main body of your post. The workaround is to post your outbound link in the comments and direct your followers there. LinkedIn makes it a little bit easier, as it has a feature that allows users to copy the comment link into the main body of the post. Simple tricks like this can lead to 100-200% increases in post reach!
Needless to say, getting the most out of your small business social media platforms, will require you (or your social media manager) to stay up-to-date with the ever-changing social media algorithms.
Let’s finish up with a fun fact:
The more people share and interact with your social media posts, the more your website’s search engine ranking will improve.
A clever social media strategy and thriving online presence will improve your chances of appearing among the top ranked pages in the Google search results. Why is this so important? Because websites that rank on the first page of Google’s search results get 91.5% of all traffic – and more traffic means more brand awareness, more leads, more sales, and more long-term success for your small business.