Social Media for Small Business
It’s not about just posting, tweeting, and liking. Social media is all about real engagement with your audience. As a small business, you undoubtedly know that utilizing social media is one of the best ways to find, connect, and establish relationships with potential customers. Those are key elements in formulating a social media strategy to build a successful brand―your brand.
Using social media for small business doesn’t have to be intimidating or even expensive. Applying these 10 simple social media marketing tips, any business can build up brand awareness, reach new target markets, and build relationships that will drive sales.
How to build a brand? Short answer: use social media to catapult your business to success.
Read on to learn and be inspired by the brands that are ‘nailing it’ on their social media platforms. And more importantly, what are the takeaways from these business role models that you can implement for your own social media strategy?
1. Plan your work. Work your plan
Though it can be tempting to just dive in and start posting, commenting, and liking it’s important to have a social media strategic plan for your business. You want to be sure that your social efforts support specific goals for your business. It’s not about just stacking up likes and a heap of followers. Set social media goals and objectives. These should be specific, measurable, attainable, and put a timeline in place to accomplish them.
What are you trying to achieve with your social media strategy? Expand your reach to include more potential customers? Build brand awareness? To become known as an expert in your field? Market your latest and greatest product? Or, perhaps, funnel followers to your website for more in depth content?
If you need a little kick-start, you can always take a look at your competition. What are they up to on social media? Listening and learning from what others have done is a great way to spark a few ideas of your own. In the process you may also find some inspiration from other successful small business brands across various industries.
Already using social media to market your brand? Okay, well now’s a good time to take a step back and evaluate what you’ve done so far. Is the marketing plan working? Do you need to refocus? Breathe some new life into your social campaigns? What changes or improvements could be implemented?
Building a community of loyal patrons can only happen with a solid plan that includes goals and objectives. So take the time to devise a social media strategy plan right from the start.
2. Decide which social media platforms are right for your brand
Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat … oh, and let’s not forget Twitter. Sure there are many choices but getting started with social media doesn’t have to feel overwhelming. Ideally, choose one or two platforms that would work best for your brand and then focus on ‘nailing’ your social media marketing strategy. Let’s face it, creating quality social connections takes effort and time. It’s better to have great engagements on your chosen few than to have mediocre results across all the platforms.
Keep in mind that you can use different social channels to target different audiences. Don’t make assumptions―research demographics to gauge where your brand might be better off. In short, go where your potential customers are spending time online.
For example, the brand Peel used Facebook video ads to help tell the story of what separates their products (stylish thin phone cases) from the competition. The campaigns have been wildly successful to say the least, but their success isn’t entirely from ads though.
They also use the Instagram platform to showcase their product line. Because their products are functional, stylish and cool they continue to see increased popularity and revenue. Have a look for yourself > @peel It works, in large part, because Peel has a visually appealing Instagram feed, and people notice!
Or consider one of the brands that is a master of witty engagements on Twitter ― Charmin. Charmin brings a little attitude, sassiness and … well, ‘cheekiness’ to their Twitter account. Charmin also runs small-scale hashtag campaigns, such as #tweetfromtheseat. This is a terrific example of how you can run a successful hashtag campaign using humor as a key element. Sure it’s ‘potty’ humor. I know. But, with over 80k followers and counting, Charmin is clearly connecting with their audience.
3. Focus on quality over quantity
When you think about it, social marketing is really all about building relationships. Stick with your brand’s core beliefs, be honest, and provide great content. Your objective is not to sell, it is to build brand awareness―a community, one relationship at a time. If all you do is pitch and sell, there’s very little motivation for people to follow you. A standard practice is the 80-20 rule. That is, use 80 percent of your content to entertain or educate your audience and about 20 percent to promote your brand or sell your goods.
In other words, your posts (i.e. content) must offer value to your followers. New sunglasses on sale for 20% off, okay … but who cares. But, 5 ways wearing sunglasses will protect your eyes, that’s useful information!
Your time is limited. You can’t do it all on every platform, and there’s really no reason to try. It’s much more important to create quality content on a couple of key channels where you can really connect with your audience than it is to merely have a presence on each social network.
4. Build relationships (engage)
What’s the secret to building a brand with a cult-like following? Look no further than Glossier, @glossier a niche beauty and skincare line for millennials. The secret is to simply build lasting relationships. Focus on that. Glossier built a community of followers on social media, acquiring a huge Instagram following before they even launched their first product!
They use Instagram Stories and feature product tutorials to connect with their fans and the results are staggering. Their followers just can’t get enough. Almost 2 million raving fans have, in essence, become brand ambassadors who share their enthusiasm, selfies, and beauty tips across their social media feeds.
Also, a distinctive benefit of social media compared to traditional marketing channels is that it allows you to talk directly to your customers. Glossier understands this and you will notice that their social interactions have a fun easygoing tone, as if two good friends are discussing beauty secrets.
That’s how you connect and engage with your fans. Let Glossier be your role model for relationship building blocks.
Facebook Groups are another terrific way to establish relationships and brand loyalty. And, you could also reach out and connect with other entrepreneurs and influencers in your particular niche. As a matter of fact, working with micro-influencers can be incredibly effective for establishing brand credibility.
Great products. Solid relationships, built upon brand loyalty and trust, are the seeds to plant a for a successful foundation for your business. Period.
5. Get to know your audience
If you are one of the millions of people who own a dog, chances are that you have heard of BarkBox, BarkBox the monthly subscription service that delivers all-natural treats, and toys to hundreds of thousands of dogs. That’s a lot of happy pooches. Their stated goal, after all, is to “create insane joy for dogs.”
Using social media marketing, this brand has turned into a multi-million-dollar business. How is that possible? In large part because they know and understand who their audience is and what they want.
What BarkBox does know is that people adore their dogs and pets are considered to be part of the family. They clearly understand its core market―making dogs happy and that, in turn, makes a dog owner very happy. Their Facebook ‘likes’ (almost 3 million) and revenue numbers prove that BarkBox is a prime example of a brand knowing their customers all too well.
What’s the best way to know what your audience wants? Simple. Ask them. Get to know them. In the same way that Glossier (mentioned earlier) talks directly to and responds to customers you need to interact with your audience until you know them inside and out.
6. Expand your audience (and grow)
Now that you have taken steps to understand your audience, how can your brand connect with people that share similar traits? One way to accomplish this is through the use of #hashtags. When a hashtag is inserted into a social post or comment it becomes searchable (i.e. discoverable) by others with the same interests. This makes it easier for people to find content related to your brand. Instagram and Twitter are excellent platforms for using hashtags.
Have a new product to add to your line? Use hashtags to expand your reach. These can be campaign specific or general, all that’s important is that they are relevant. Hashtags can be added at the end of a post, placed in a comment or worked into the actual post.
You can also feature user generated content (UGC) to build up your fan base. Encourage both fans and customers to add your brand’s hashtag to their UGC. Or, you can try using Facebook targeting options to expand your audience.
It also helps to have a worthy cause associated with your brand because then people will gladly share your content. For example, Bombas a sock company that donates a pair to someone in need for each and every sale, now has over 330k likes on Facebook. Over 16.5 million pairs of socks and counting given away; Bombas’ goodwill makes for easy social media sharing and retweeting.
7. Work smarter – Use the right tools
Give a talented craftsman the proper tools and he can make a masterpiece. Your brand can, essentially, do the same thing. Use the right tools to grow your social media presence and streamline that process. Besides, having a full-scale social media team is most likely not in the budget for your small business. There are many social media management tools that can help boost your engagement productivity. Uniclix [link], for example, lets your brand centralize, manage and grow your social media accounts with just a couple of clicks. It is Social Media Management Simplified.
Why use a tool like this? Because you’re smart. Using Uniclix will save you time by automating your accounts and the bottom line is that it will help to grow your business. The Uniclix application supports Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn social channels.
Similarly, tools such as ‘Pocket’ can help you find and organize content to share with your followers. It can be a challenge for brands to come up with new worthwhile content to share. Using Pocket allows you to share quality content from others and provides a fantastic way to provide value for your audience.
So, if you’re looking to significantly grow your online presence, consider using a social media management platform. Take your social media accounts to the next level. It’s easy to get started with Uniclix
8. Share compelling visuals
Grab your favorite mobile device, open your browser and go to almost any news channel. What do you notice? Everything is video. News, ads, interviews … they are all displayed through videos. Why? They are visually stimulating. On social media people have also come to expect that this visual element is included in social posts. Not necessarily video all the time, but even vibrant photos and GIFs are among the most popular and engaging posts. It’s proven that people are much more likely to engage with Tweets, for example, that include visual elements.
Many social channels, especially Instagram, are visual-first networks. So make sure your content, your pictures and video clips, looks good so folks will be interested in learning more about what you have to offer.
Consider the company called Vans. @vans With over 14 million followers they have become one of Instagram’s most successful shoe brands. How did that happen? Well, not by posting vanilla product images. No way. Their Instagram feed showcases its shoes in active lifestyle situations. They also include user generated content imagery―patrons proudly wearing its shoe brand.
Similarly, take a look at Justin’s. @justins Here is a brand that is practically made for Instagram. Catering to health-minded people who still want to enjoy a sweet treat every now and then, Justin’s shares photos of all its mouth-watering products such as milkshakes and peanut butter cups.
Whether it’s through videos, high definition photos, animated GIFs or stunning user generated content make sure your visuals are on key to attract more followers.
9. Monitor and respond to all conversations about your brand
Social listening. You need to be aware of conversations, questions, or comments that are taking place concerning your brand online and respond where appropriate. There’s no way around this. A failure to address an issue, or a concern from a customer can have a negative social impact, not to mention potential lost revenue.
Refer back to Glossier as a prime example of a brand being responsive to customers via social media. They listen, ask questions, and respond. And, their fans absolutely adore them for doing so (along with the great products).
As a brand you should encourage your followers to share feedback about your product or service. This helps to build trust and aides in developing lasting relationships. In other words, show that you care. Consumers are more likely to go to your competitor if they are ignored on social media and that is serious business. Always keep in mind that when it comes to social media your tribe can ‘make or break’ you. Be smart. Be aware and out in front of conversations about your brand.
If all this social listening seems a bit overwhelming, like extra work in fact, just remember to start small. Your focus is on mastering engagements through one or two social networks. This way responding to social media dialogues becomes part of your overall marketing strategy. It’s part of the process―the engagement―and that is exactly what your brand needs.
Finally, no matter what the size your business, using social tools can help you better engage with your audience. These tools can go a long way in helping to stay on top of all conversations about your business and they can also help to boost your productivity by saving you time.
10. Automate your content (free up more time for engagement)
You’ve made it this far. Great. This tip is really an easy one, but it’s also a game changer. In building a business we often ‘burn both ends of the candle;’ you’re busy building an empire and it often seems that you need more hours in the day to accomplish all you need to. Right?
We have talked about using social media tools throughout this article and having those tools at your fingertips makes for an impressive arsenal to support your brand’s social marketing strategies.
A key step to take your marketing efforts to the next level is to automate. Create social posts in advance, schedule them for publishing at the right time, and track engagement results. A tool such as Uniclix may be just the resource your brand needs to become a social media success story just like the others we have featured. The Uniclix management platform is affordable and easy to use. They also currently have a fantastic introductory lost cost offer
In closing, remember that no matter what social platform you decide to focus on be sure to integrate your brand’s message and core beliefs within your social channel. Be authentic and share valuable content. Sure connecting with your followers, expanding your audience and engaging in meaningful conversations takes some effort, but it yields tremendous rewards.
It’s not rocket science folks. Social media sensation stories abound and they leave a trail of success for other brands to follow. Social platforms are more than just followers, likes, fans and photos; they are communities built upon relationships that began with a simple post, tweet, or photograph. And, these communities, made up of raving fans and followers, are an essential part of the customer journey.
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