Social media has been around for a while now. It has come a long way since Facebook started in 2004 – growing until Vine turned into Snapchat and Tik Tok. While social media has been around the block, it is far from irrelevant. In fact, now more than ever, savvy small business owners are taking advantage of social media. And, they should!
Social media allows small businesses to:
- Build a following for their services and products
- Be easily accessible
- Engage with the 72% of Americans who utilize at least one social media platform
- Reach consumers of all ages who utilize social media
- Save a lot of money on advertising and marketing because using social media free (although you can spend money to promote your business in special ways)
- Utilize current customers to be their brand ambassadors
- Promote events, share new product, and build brand recognition
- Generate sales through other domains than their website and brick and mortar sites
- Stay connected with their loyal customers
If you don’t already, you must use social media as part of your business’ growth plan and marketing strategy. Here are some tricks of the trade to ensure that your social media is something that pays off and steers your business in the right direction.
Set Social Media Marketing Goals
As with any goal, it needs to be something that is specific, realistic, and measurable. The marketing goals for most businesses fall into these categories: increase revenue, generate leads, grow customer following, build brand recognition, increase website traffic, etc.
Increasing revenue is one of the easier goals to measure. Determine a percentage you would like to grow and set that goal. Leads can be a little more subjective, so you will want to use specific language and be precise about the result you want.
Goals that are related to building your brand can be a little trickier to make specific and measurable, but no less important in determining your social media marketing plan. Free and paid tools on various social platforms can help you to measure your customer engagement.
Target audience knowledge and understanding which social media platform(s) are being utilized by your customer base are important. Regardless of your target audience’s age, almost all social media users are utilizing YouTube on a daily basis. Creating fun short informational videos or demos should be part of your content planning.
If you want to get the attention of the 30+ market, you will want to utilize Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. The 18-29 -year-olds, on the other hand, will need to be engaged using Snapchat and Instagram. For the 60+ crowd, Facebook is going to be your best bet.
You don’t have to engage on every platform, especially when you are just getting started, but it can be fairly simple to modify content and post it on a variety of platforms in order to cast a wider net, so to speak.
Some people make the assumption they will just throw some content out there at any ol’ time and it will stick. Unfortunately, without a solid plan, follow through, and evaluation, it might all be a waste of time. Worse than wasting your time honestly, is it could end up turning people away from your business and brand (especially if you saturate customer’s feeds with too many postings).
Most importantly, your content needs to be genuine. The content needs to be from an organic and thoughtful place that helps to educate and inform your target market. In the same respect, it has to be relevant. Content that is contrived – like click-bait – that entices consumers to click only to find they have wasted their time (because the content doesn’t contain what you promised), can damage your brand and your business.
Your social media content should fall under the following categories:
1 – Educational and Informational
Customers are continually looking for answers online. Providing the answers to the questions your customers might have related to topics in your industry is important as well as genuine. Generating customer comments and feedback on a regular basis will help you to generate a good number of informational topics that you can post about.
2 – Entertaining
Social media is a form of entertainment for people. They want to laugh, to tear up, to be entertained. Share stories, videos, photos designed to entertain your audience..
3 – Inspirational
Users of social media love stories that inspire them to do better and be better. Share your inspirational story. (You’re a small business operator—that is INSPIRATIONAL!) If you’re struggling to talk about yourself, try focusing on someone else you find inspirational. Maybe a mentor, or a friend. Or even a dog that learned to walk in a wheelchair!
4 – Persuasive
This is an important category because it is where you can measure the outcomes of your efforts a little more easily. These posts persuade your audience to like, subscribe, buy, share, attend, donate…anything to raise brand awareness, build your customer base, and generate sales.
Content needs to be consistent. You need to have an editorial calendar that lays out the who, what, and when. Keeping your content coming on a regular basis keeps your customers and future customers engaged with you, your product/service, and the brand.
There isn’t a magic number on the amount of content that you put out, but it can’t be too often where your customers are so used to seeing your content that they become blind to it. It can’t be too long between posts, or they will forget about you when they actually need you. And most importantly, it needs to be consistent.
The consistency isn’t just for customer engagement, it’s for you. Having an editorial calendar and a set amount of postings will help you to stay organized and keep your marketing campaigns moving forward.
If the thought of maintaining consistent content and posts is overwhelming, it can be a good idea to enlist the help of a professional. They will help you to determine the goals, the measurements, and equally important, they can create the content so that you can do what you do best.
Another option is to use social media management software to help you plan and stay organized. That way you don’t have to develop the system to keep everything organized – you just do the planning and posting.
Content development formulas
If you plan to create the calendar, the content, and the postings yourself, here are a few strategies for content creation that will help! The 80/20 and 5:3:2 philosophies are great for getting your social media groove on.
The 80/20 school of thought is that 80% of your postings will be about educating and informing your customers. It’s providing them with videos, articles, various websites where they can get questions answered about your industry.
If you are a plumber, ideas might be how to easily unclog your drains, or troubleshooting a broken washing machine. All of those posts don’t have to be content that you developed yourself, they can be curated content which is content you share from other sources.
For example, you might share an article written by Bob Villa on the plumbing problems often found in old homes. The other 20% of your content will be direct marketing where you are focused on generating sales, promoting an event, a sale, or an open house. It can be running a contest that gets followers to like and share your content or subscribe to your blog.
The 5:3:2 approach to content is similar. Five of 10 posts will be curated content that again helps inform and educate your followers on topics that interest them in regard to your industry. If you are a florist, you might share the positive health benefits of having plants in the home. This sharing of curated content is not only good for you because you are providing your followers with content that interests them but you are promoting other people’s websites and brands.
Three of every 10 posts will be promoting your brand whether it is through descriptions of new products, sharing your business’s philanthropic causes it helps or sharing what is unique about you and your services in comparison to your competitors.
And finally, two of every 10 posts will be for fun! These are opportunities to share another side of you and your business and humanize yourself. It’s an opportunity to share with your customers who you are, and show them there’s a human behind the company.
You could share a picture of you and your team at the last get together or a charity event that you sponsored. Have fun with it! Share your favorite pet picture and ask your customers to share their photos for a chance to win a service or product.
Ideas for posts: the possibilities are endless
When you are thinking about getting started, you may have a difficult time with topic ideation, but here’s a quick list to get you started:
- Do a quick question and answer about how you got started, your mission, your passion, and what you can do for your customers.
- Send a digital thank you to your customers for their loyal patronage! Have them share what they love about your business.
- Provide a quick list of helpful tips. Those tips can be industry or product based, they can even be, how to turn resolutions into results.
- Share what you do on your days off and ask customers to do the same!
- Everyone (or most people) love being inspired. Share an inspiring story that relates to you and your business (or industry).
- For fun, have a “guess what the picture is” challenge to promote shares and likes. The picture can be a close up of one of your products or something related to your industry.
Here is one more tip to help you on your social media marketing journey – check out your competitors! I don’t usually promote stalking, but when it comes to your social media marketing plan and for your business in general, you have to know what the competition is doing. Look them up on various platforms and see what kinds of content they are creating and what kinds of responses they are getting from their followers.
Anything new is often difficult, but marketing doesn’t have to be. Keep things simple, start small, measure results, evaluate what is and isn’t working, and then revamp. And, if you ever need help, there are marketing experts that can help you to get rerouted and sailing in the right direction.