Social Media Marketing is an excellent way for small businesses to increase brand value, customer base and sales. According to research conducted by Swiftpage, 50% of businesses amplified their social media presence and gained new customers in 2013.
While many small businesses are currently enjoying a comfortable success without a large presence on social media, introducing your brand to the digital world means that social media strategy is no longer an option, but a necessity. Here are some tips and tricks to help you run your social media strategies for your small business on par with the methods used by big businesses.
1. Balance between online and offline
As a small business owner, you need to decide just how important a role social media will play in your marketing strategies. Think about whether social media will really be cost effective compared to your other resources. Ask yourself – is social media beneficial for my business? Will it help find more sales prospects? Is my audience active and interactive on social media?
If, for example, your target audience is largely inactive on social media – then no matter how great your strategy, the results won’t show through in increased sales. What’s more, sometimes it is important to have online and offline campaigns that complement each other simultaneously.
According to a study by iProspect, 40% of online searchers make a purchase after being influenced by an offline channel. Hence it is always important to maintain the right balance.
2. Master the (re)search engine
Before you begin devising your social media strategy, it is imperative to do the required homework. Find out what is currently trending, see which brands have gone “viral” on social media and study what they have done to make it so. Research your competitors and other similar brands worldwide and see how they speak to, connect with and present themselves to their target audience.
3. Be inspired, but do not imitate
Do not fall into the trap of blindly following a similar brand’s strategy. While it is always encouraged to study the competition, their social media strategies may not work the same way for you. What’s more, it becomes easier and easier to spot a copycat on the social sphere – because everyone is watching your next move! Define yourself and your own brand unequivocally, and devise your social media strategy accordingly.
Some Australian Companies that have a great online presence:
Domino’s Pizza Australia
4. Understand your current and potential customers
Define your audience, your existing customers and your prospective targets. Create an audience persona by studying their online behaviour, which social media platform they prefer, finding out their likes, preferences and what makes them turn away from a brand. The following are the types of audience you should be looking for:
- Current clients or customers
- Potential clients or customers
- Associates of current/potential clients or customers
- Journalists and editors
- Affiliate businesses
5. Use tools to your advantage
When you launch your social media campaign, getting a real time analysis of how it is being received can help you tweak or change the campaign. Measurements and comparisons should be your priority and you can use tools like Google Analytics and Facebook Analytics to track views, click throughs, conversion rates and more.
Google Analytics lets you measure your advertising ROI as well as track your Flash, video, and social networking sites and applications.
Here are five steps you can follow to track your social media campaigns with Google Analytics.
- First, define your social media objectives and goals for your brand/website
- Sign up on Google Analytics and create the profile and parameters for your website
- Create your GA tracking code using Google Tag Manager to gather website data from GA
- Create your goals for your Google Analytics
- Study and Understand the types of Social Analytic reports available on GA.
Facebook Analytics for Apps shows you how people engage with your business across devices, platforms and websites so you can get a clear picture of your customer activity.
Access Facebook Analytics by:
- Opening your company Page on Facebook
- Clicking on the ‘Insights’ section on the page
- Take a look at what the section has to offer and get started!
6. Your strategy should tell your story
As a small business owner, especially if it is a new business, it is important to tell your audience about your business. Your audience is there to listen – but you shouldn’t just shove information down their throats. While each successful campaign leads to sales conversions – it is important not to only focus on sales. Learn from Postcron to how turn it around from “sales chasing” to “storytelling”. Tell your audience your brand story. Engage your audience with social media updates that are both informative and entertaining.
For example, in April 2011 TOMS Shoes asked everyone to go barefoot for a day, for a campaign that became so popular, that it turned into a yearly event. Through simple story telling, TOMS Shoes touched the hearts of their customers with the main theme behind their campaign: children in poorer countries cannot afford to buy the shoes they need to stay alive.
7. Become a social media curator
Social media is all about updates and interactions happening in the now. Find and develop the best and most relevant content for your brand. Use the ‘trending’ feeds on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to find out what people are talking about right now and post your content accordingly. Search for poignant images relevant to your business and pair them with short and clever copy to make an instant connection with your viewers.
Sources and tools to help your search:
Reddit is a social news aggregation, web content rating, and discussion website. Reddit's registered community members can submit content, such as text posts or direct links.
Twitter is an online news and social networking service where users post and read short 140-character messages called "tweets". The platform has a section that broadcasts its trending content!
How to find trending content on Twitter:
- Open your Twitter Homepage
- Click on the ‘Trending’ section to the left of the page to view current trends
- You can also use ‘Search’ bar to find specific trends using keywords or hashtags
Facebook is a social media connection and sharing platform that is most used by digital marketers to promote a brand. You can use Facebook search for trending and viral content.
How to find trending content on Facebook:
- Open your Facebook Homepage
- Click on the ‘Trending’ section to the right of the page to view current trends
- Alternatively, use ‘Search’ bar to find specific trends using keywords or hashtags
Feedly is a content aggregation tool that allows you to keep abreast of all the latest news, trends and topics.
8. The science of social media
While the creation of a good social media strategy is an art, the execution of the strategy should be purely scientific. Do not make the mistake of posting your campaigns on the go. Plan, schedule and test drive your campaigns. Preview your updates before you post them to get a clearer picture of what the end result will look like. Understand the navigational differences between different social media platforms and adapt your strategy accordingly.
Facebook comes with an inbuilt method of scheduling your posts, so that you can plan ahead and execute your campaign without a hitch!
Tweetdeck is a desktop tool that allows you to analyse, track, organise and schedule your twitter updates, posts and tweets.
Buffer allows you to schedule content, analyse results and increase interaction and engagement across various social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and more.
Hootesuite is another all-in-one tool that allows you to schedule content, analyse results and increase interaction and engagement across various social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and more.
9. Boost your campaigns
A general update on your social media page will be visible to your followers and their friends. But once you boost an image or update posted on social media, it has the capacity to reach many, many more. Platforms like Facebook offer to boost your posts at a nominal fee, increasing your reach and audience. Remember to also amplify your content by posting it on multiple platforms – this way you also reach larger numbers.
Facebook and Twitter’s inbuilt boosting tools:
10. Invest in customer care
Just like you would for your business, you should also invest in customer care for your social media page. If a user posts a query on your page, respond in a timely and informative manner. Make a personal connection by speaking to the customer directly using their first name. Avoid standard replies answer templates and make sure you type afresh each time. Welcome and frequently ask for feedback – this opens a channel for you to engage directly with your consumers. Take responsibility for any negative feedback or mistakes from your end.
Here are some tools that can help you navigate your audience:
Respond is a Buffer initiative that is possibly the simplest user tool exclusively for social customer service, and focuses only on Twitter.
Lithium is a tool that allows your representatives to respond directly to customers, engage, and route issues to appropriate team members.
Social media strategy doesn’t need to be an insurmountable challenge, and with these tips and tricks, you should be able to steadily launch your small business into the digital world. Remember to do your research, use the right tools, and always keep your goals flexible.