Social media marketing became one of the most attractive types of marketing for small businesses over the last decade because it was cost-effective, produced excellent results, and was easy to get started. Small business social media was seen as a means to level the playing field so a small brand could attract new customers with the ease formerly only available to the big brands with their massive advertising budgets.
Unfortunately for small businesses, social media traffic to their website has declined over time — at least free traffic (as you can see below).
Does this mean your small brand can forget social media marketing unless you have the money to fund advertising on the platform?
It just means you need state-of-the-art marketing strategies for your small business social media. Read on if you think this is something you need.
Small business social media strategies that work
Small businesses can still gain significant traction (and sales) using social media the RIGHT way. Using social media means understanding the algorithms driving your ability to reach users, posting at the right time and frequency, using a network where your brand can reach potential buyers, and monitoring performance so your strategies get better over time.
As you can see in the graphic below, each social media platform has advantages and disadvantages depending on your target market. Each platform also helps you achieve different goals. Choosing the right platform(s) is key to your success. Beyond that, consider the following strategies as you build your small business social media strategy.
Establish social media marketing goals
It is almost impossible to have traction with social media marketing without goals in mind. Think about the desired outcomes for your campaigns and strategies and put them together in one simple list. These desired outcomes help you create a social media marketing strategy that aligns with your goals. Also, knowing what you want to get out of social media marketing provides metrics to gauge your success and optimize your strategy.
There are lots of goals you can list, but some of the more popular ones include:
- Increasing brand awareness
- Increasing engagement
- Using social media marketing to help your other marketing strategies
- Improving SEO, since engagement on social media improves your search rank
- Bringing people to your website or blog
- Converting visitors to paying customers
Customize your message
Each social media site is different and has a different audience from the next one. Each platform supports different messages either through rules or based on norms formed within the platform. Because of this, you need to think about the types of audiences on the different social media sites you use and customize your message to them. Some social media sites are professional, others are video sharing sites, some are less serious, and others require multimedia to get your message across.
Choosing the right message to fit each platform ensures people who follow your business on different social media sites don’t see the same message multiple times, which makes you look unprofessional.
Use of multimedia
While a lot of research shows people are less interested in long text content, many businesses still post without using any media. Images and videos are dynamic and engaging types of content that draw people in and keep their interest. Empirical studies show increased engagement with the use of images or video as part of your post.
Choosing the right images is pretty straightforward, as you want images that draw in your target market and encourage them to action. You can use images that are informative and sharable, such as infographics.
Videos, on the other hand, are a little trickier. You need to think carefully about what the video says, how it helps the audience, and how it provides the information they need. For instance, TikTok videos are very short (30 seconds or less) so you don’t have time for an in-depth video. These videos also tend to show slice of life (think Nike ads).
The biggest advantage of using videos and images in social media marketing is that they make faceless businesses seem more human and friendly. People can relate to businesses that have a human component behind them.
Optimize your bio
Many businesses spend a lot of time optimizing their social media feeds and ads and forget their bio. The bio for your business is important because it shares important information such as your mission and values (increasingly important to millennials and GenZ). In Instagram, it’s the only place you can place a direct link to your product and services, landing page, or website until you reach a minimum number of followers.
So, what does a great bio include? An optimized bio should have a great profile picture (usually a logo or other brand visual identity), an optimized name, a niche statement, a call to action, and links (in Instagram and a few other platforms). The optimized name is essential because it can make it easy for people to find you through search.
Your niche statement makes it easy for people to know what you do or what products and services you offer, and the call to action directs people to the link you have added. There is a lot more that goes into optimizing your Instagram bio, but these are the basics you need to know to get started.
Take advantage of contests and events
Engagement is the name of the game in social media. Not only does engagement help spread your message, it improves your rank in search. So, while contests are no longer as popular as they were a few years ago, they are still a fantastic way to engage your community. You can leverage a giveaway with a prize that your audience wants to encourage website visits, subscriptions, trials, and much more. Remember, you must structure these contests so they benefit your business, usually enticing your audience to join the sales funnel.
Exclusives are another way to get your business noticed on social media. Everyone wants an exclusive offer or discount, and if the only way to get it is to sign up or join a mailing list, you’ll gain a new audience.
Events hosted on social platforms also recreate the feeling of an in-person event without the hassle and expense of travel. You can host a webinar or trade show (new software lets you recreate a virtual experience and advances in the metaverse promise greater strides). You can go live on many platforms to engage directly with users. Host a virtual launch party complete with giveaways and demonstrations. You can even provide gift cards for meal delivery if you want to really simulate a launch party.
Leverage the power of podcasting
Podcasting exploded over the past few years. There are so many podcasts now, and the common routes used by businesses are to start podcasts, join one, or advertise on one. Podcasts are an excellent option for small businesses because they are easy and relatively cost-effective.
Podcasts can open up your business to new audiences that you might not reach any other way. For instance, commuters like to listen to podcasts during their train or car rides to and from work. If you have enticing material, you could even get people to subscribe and tune in regularly, which can help build brand awareness and increase reach.
Lastly, podcasts can allow you to build intimate one-on-one relationships with your audience. Podcasts are very personal. You can make them feel like the speaker is talking to a single person, further increasing the bond between the brand and its customers.
One of the most important things to remember about small business social media marketing is that it is about creating a community of loyal customers who are willing to engage with the business and buy from it. Knowing your customers, engaging with them, and responding to queries are all great ways to engage the community you build. Offering exclusives, great content, staying consistent, and knowing how to structure your messaging are great marketing strategies that can turn an audience into paying customers.
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Hausman and Associates, the publisher of MKT Maven, is a full-service marketing agency operating at the intersection of marketing and digital media. Check out our full range of services.