Social media is an inexpensive (even free) tool that businesses can use to reach potential customers. The number of people on social media growing everyday. Over 71% adults in 2014 were on at least one social media platform. For small businesses, social media is a great way to build brand loyalty + increase awareness. When getting started as a small business on social media, there are a few things to consider.
When starting out on social media, you don’t want to overwhelm yourself by getting on too many channels. It is best to start with one or two. The networks you choose will depend on your business + needs. For small businesses, Facebook is the number one platform. Twitter is typically the next network chosen by a small business, especially if your business is B2B. If your business is highly visual, Instagram may be a good option. Instagram allows you share images but is not great for links.
Learn about your Channels
Now that you have chosen your channels, it is important to learn about them. One of the best places to keep up to date on new features + changes is the channels own blogs. Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter all have great blog content. Other places to get information are blogs (like mine). The Hootsuite blog is one of my favorites. I also get great content from the Social Times. Best practices differ between channels, but some are universal:
- Use images but make sure they are high quality
- Keep your posting consistent
- Engage with customers
- Establish a brand tone or persona
- Use management platforms (Hootsuite, Sprout Social, Spredfast, etc.)
- Recognize the fluidity of social media + be ready to adapt your plans
- Post content that has value whether through entertainment or information
- Implement a social media strategy
- Cross-promote content
- Use hashtags + other tags when appropriate
- Keep mobile in mind
- Track your numbers
You want to create a social strategy for each channel as well as an overarching one. Things to consider with a social strategy are tone, cadence, content mix (promotional, brand, events, etc.), curated vs. original mix, and any influencer strategies you may want to implement. Many people stick by the 80:20 rule with social media. That is 20% promotional content + 80% other types. This could include promoting events in the community or engaging with customers.
Track your numbers
If you aren’t tracking statistics like followers, likes, clicks, etc. You will have no idea if your strategy is working. Metrics can show you which types of posts do well + which ones your audience doesn’t engage with. With this information, you can tweak your strategy + hopefully improve those metrics for the next period. You have to decide which metrics you care about + and follow those. If impressions are what you’re after, you may have to deal with a lower engagement rate + vice versa. You can track numbers through native platforms or your management tool,
Play around with Ads
Twitter + Facebook allow you to spend as little as $5 to test out their ads. Other platforms like Snapchat have extremely high advertising rates, so this is another reason to stick with Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. There are different types of ads you can test depending on your goals. The most popular are to increase page popularity, promoting specific posts, or increasing website conversions through clicks. Advertising may be useful for you in either slow or prime seasons for your business.
What challenges has your small business faced with social media? Do you have any tips for those starting out? Comment them below!