Social Media for Small Business Use
When it comes to social media, the question isn’t whether you should include it in your small business marketing plan, but rather how it can best be used to promote your services, drive sales and boost your brand awareness.
We know from surveys that 75 percent of customers say they use social media as part of their buying process. And more than 70 percent of small businesses intend to use social media this year, according to Small Business Trends magazine. So the potential benefits to your business are significant.
When you begin using social media as a business, keep in mind that you’re doing so to build a foundation of trust with customers.
“Social media isn’t a one-and-done approach to marketing your business,” says Regina DeMars, director of content marketing and social media strategy at First National Bank of Omaha. “It is a long-term commitment that requires determination and discipline to stay the course. Providing valuable content to your customers is key so they know they can turn to you for the answers and expertise they’re seeking.”
Setting goals and expectations is an essential first step on the road to developing a manageable social media presence. A small business can be overwhelmed trying to juggle multiple platforms, so take time up front to develop a strategy that focuses on the top social media channels used by your target audience.
Facebook is the obvious frontrunner among social media channels given its popularity among all age groups. LinkedIn makes sense for B2B businesses looking to connect with decision makers and C-suite executives.
In the B2C sector, Instagram can be an effective way for restaurants, fashion boutiques and other retail businesses to reach out to Gen Z and Millennials using visuals that showcase their signature dishes, ambiance and trend-setting products. Food-related businesses should also consider using Pinterest.
Content is king
In the lead up to developing content, take some time to create a social persona based on the likes, dislikes and interests of your target audience.
Next, establish three to five content buckets or themes that will appeal to your audience and keep these in mind whenever you post. This approach will help you organize your content and provide a common thread that readers can identify.
Social media content represents your brand, so you want it to appear professional and consistent with your company website and other marketing efforts. Free or inexpensive software is available to help you create branded graphics.
Other tips to enhance your social media content are:
- Post regularly
- Be relevant, timely, entertaining and conversational
- Seek opportunities to increase engagement
- Stay positive, polite and respectful
- Correct misinformation in other social feeds but never be rude
- Select photography and graphics that stay true to your business identity
- Always check spelling, grammar, punctuation and links before posting
- Stay away from topics that are boring, self-centered or too technical
- Avoid negativity, rambling or criticizing competitors
Don’t forget video
National studies indicate that 85 percent of the U.S. watch online videos daily. Videos enjoy great engagement and are a proven way to enhance your social media presence.
The value of using video content can be found in statistics reported by Forbes which found one-third of online activity is now spent watching video.
Today’s technology and DIY tools also make video content affordable for small businesses. By learning to use Facebook Live, Facebook Premier or Instagram Live, you and your staff can take advantage of this trend at little to no expense.
A grassroots effort involving friends, family, customers and other business owners can be successful in spreading the word about your new social involvement. Encourage these acquaintances to submit a social post or review that includes a link to your Facebook page or Instagram account.
Be sure to include your social handles on email signatures, store signage, business cards and other printed materials and share posts with other small businesses or organizations you work with or serve with on a professional level.
Over time, these efforts will pay off and your business will benefit as social media networks continue to grow along with opportunities for you to engage your customers.
About the Author: Clint Sporhase leads First National Bank’s efforts to serve small business owners. Clint has 25 years of sales, marketing and strategy experience.Read More Insights