Do you dream of turning your small project into a big, successful business? Social media marketing can be the first step.
It’s surprising to know, however, how many small business owners are content with their small network of customers, limited reach, and mediocre income. According to them, as long as their business is running and their loyal customers keep coming back, they’re happy.
What they don’t know is that there are a lot more opportunities outside their neighborhood — or their comfort zone. If they are only open to marketing their business online, they can reach a wider audience and serve thousands, or even millions, of customers.
And guess what – social media marketing can make that happen.
What is Social Media Marketing?
Social media marketing is an online marketing strategy that involves utilization of social networking websites to connect with an audience, sell products and services, and establish your brand.
If you are an active user of a social networking site, say Facebook, you may have seen businesses promoting their services, or even individuals selling unique crafts or products.
These are examples of social media marketing at its simplest – a post to your network discussing your products or services.
And I’m sure, in one way or another, you have been convinced to purchase something from simply seeing a post on Facebook or a video advertisement on YouTube.
This is exactly the objective of businesses big and small who use social media marketing — to convince users to check out, try, or purchase whatever it is they are advertising or selling.
And if you are a small business owner yourself, you may want to consider putting your business out there too, where your potential customers are spending hours of their time.
Imagine connecting to hundreds or thousands of potential customers, how much revenue would this mean to your business?
Why Should Small Businesses Engage on Social Media Marketing?
Let’s talk about statistics. (Don’t worry, its not too technical!)
Did you know that social media ad spend already surpassed TV in 2017, with Facebook dominating ad revenue in 2016 and taking almost 70% of social media advertising spend?
This simply means that more and more advertisers and business owners prefer to advertise on social media because they know that consumers spend more time online than watching TV.
Another interesting point is that Instagram acquired 100 million additional users in just six months of 2016, joining the other 500 million users already on board.
Your customers are among these millions signing up on Facebook and Instagram.
And creating a business profile on these social networks can grow your business exponentially.
Benefits of Social Media Marketing to Small Businesses
Still not yet convinced? Here are some more reasons why small businesses should engage in social media marketing.
Establish Brand Recognition
Whether you’re just starting up your business or you have a neighborhood store, a social media presence can definitely help you develop brand recognition for potential customers who haven’t yet heard about your business.
One search on Facebook or a review on Google+ is all it takes to acquire another lead or generate more sales!
Get to Know Your Customers Well
When your customers start following you on your social media business pages, you will get to know them better by communicating closely with them and engaging them in discussions. You’ll get to know what they like or dislike about your products and use this opportunity to further improve your offerings to them. This is called ‘social listening’ and is critical to understand your market and better serve their needs.
Decreased Marketing Costs
Compared to flyers, printing out brochures, poster advertising, and print advertising, social media marketing is technically free of charge if you decide to do it on your own. However, even if you hire a social media expert or do paid promotions, the cost is still much lower than traditional marketing efforts.
With this in mind, it is easy to achieve a return on investment without exerting too much effort.
Get Ahead of the Competition
While social media is prevalent among individual users, many small businesses have yet to discover the magic of social media marketing. Take advantage of the benefits of social media while your competitors haven’t found it out yet to get ahead of the competition.
Now, if you’re ready to get started, let’s discuss the different social networking sites and social media platforms that you can take advantage of when promoting your business to potential customers.
Social Media Platforms Explained
Facebook is (by far) the largest social network, regarding the total number of users and brand name recognition. Founded on early 2004, Facebook has accumulated more than 1.59 billion monthly active users from all over the world. It is estimated that over 1 million small businesses, utilize this platform to advertise and promote their business.
Twitter is known for its short updates and 140-character limit on posts. You might think that this ‘unique’ characteristic of Twitter is problematic when promoting a business and connecting to potential customers. However, you may be surprised to know that this social media platform has more than 320 million active monthly users, including large and small businesses. They use Twitter to interact with clients, answer questions, announce promotions, releases the latest news, and use targeted ads to reach specific audiences.
LinkedIn is popular among professionals and was designed to serve as a social platform for professional networking. Launched in May 2003, the website now has more than 400 million registered members and is available in 24 languages. If your business caters more to professional audiences such as CEOs, Directors, Account Managers, IT Specialists, or even college students and recent graduates, you can take advantage of this social network to promote and advertise your services.
From the name itself, this social media platform is a product of the largest search engine on the Internet – Google. Google+ has its place among the popular social media sites because of the SEO value it provides users and businesses. This means that every post you share to your Google+ plus profile will be visible on Google’s search results. Launched in December 2011, Google+ now has more than 420 million active users.
We’ve all heard about this popular video-based social media platform which was founded in February 2005. YouTube is different from other social networking sites we’ve discussed above because they only accept videos as content from users. This is, however, very helpful for large and small businesses because, through videos, they can easily showcase their brand and highlight their offerings to their target audience. YouTube has currently over 1 billion monthly visitors.
Launched in March 2010, Pinterest is relatively new in the social media arena. This platform features digital bulletin boards where businesses can post or “pin” their content. By September 2015, it had acquired 100 million users. Small businesses whose target audience is comprised of mostly women should invest in Pinterest as more than half of its visitors are female.
Like Pinterest, Instagram is social media platform that focuses on photo-based content. Launched in October 2010, the website has currently more than 400 million active users and is owned by Facebook. Many of its users use it to post information about travel, fashion, food, art and similar subjects. The platform is also distinguished by its unique photo filters with some video and photo editing features.
Some other popular social media platforms include Snapchat, Tumblr, Flickr, Reddit, Digg, and a lot more.
Getting Started with Social Media Marketing
Now that you’re aware of the benefits of social media marketing for a small business, lets discuss how you can leverage on this type of digital marketing strategy to reach your goals and connect with more customers.
- Identify Your Goals
As with other marketing strategies, you need to begin by defining your business goals. Answer the question, what will you use social media marketing for?
Do you want increased brand recognition and more followers to recognize your products and services?
Do you want to grow your sales online through social media platforms?
Or do you simply want to engage with your customers and get insights about their buying behavior and product preferences?
By setting a clear and definite goal, you can easily create a social media marketing plan and craft content, posts, and announcements that are aligned with your goals.
- Identify Where Your Market Is
Who is your target audience? The first thing you should do is determine the perfect customer for your business. What are his/her habits? Where do they live? What makes them a good fit for your business. We call this a buyer persona and you can download a guide here to get you started.
Ideally, it will be a good idea to be able to build and manage business profiles on the social media platforms we mentioned above. However, managing multiple accounts can be confusing and time-consuming, especially if you don’t have enough resources or manpower to manage your profiles.
Instead, choose 2 to 3 platforms only where your target audiences are likely to be – HINT: let your buyer persona guide your decision. For example, if you own a photography business and your target audience is real estate agents, you may want to set up an account on Instagram and LinkedIn.
- Create a Marketing Plan
Once you identify your goals and your chosen social media networks, it’s time to create a plan that will serve as your guide in executing effective social media marketing strategies.
Your plan should include the type of content you wish to publish, schedule of publishing, an optimal time for customer engagement, as well as paid advertising budget whenever applicable. Having a solid plan can help you follow a fixed direction as opposed to just publishing whatever you feel like posting.
- Layout and Prepare Your Content
You can feature different types of content on your social profiles, such as text, images, videos, articles, featured products, and links to your website.
Before publishing anything, make sure that you layout the content and create a content calendar that will serve as your guide for (preferably) daily posting. Having a well-prepared content plan will make your life easier.
- Set Up Your Business Page
Once your marketing and content plans are ready, it is now time to optimize your business page according to your objectives, target audience, and type of content you wish to share with your followers.
Establishing a business profile on the social media platforms we discussed above is often free and very easy to do. You need to have the necessary requirements, such as a business name, logo, short description, and other details of your business page. Remember, use keywords and (if applicable) hashtags in your profile to enhance your visibility.
- Get Followers
As soon as your business page is set up, it’s time to acquire fans, followers, or members of your page. This is necessary to make your page lively, active, and engaging all the time. The more followers you have, the more reputable your page becomes. Also, depending on the platform, you can create targeted marketing campaigns based upon your page followers.
There are a couple of ways (both online and offline) on how to get followers quickly. For example, if you have a database or list of customers your keep in your physical store, you can send them emails or flyers to let them know about your social media business page and ask them to like or follow your page.
Another way is to stick a poster on your store wall where the URL of your business page is available. This way your customers can be informed about your social media marketing efforts. Get creative! There are so many ways of converting your foot traffic to social followers.
One last tactic is to share your business page details with your personal network and any content posted to your page is shared into groups related to your target audience. This usually works very well for our clients.
- Publish Posts Accordingly
By having a content calendar, you can easily schedule when and how frequently to post content. Note, however, that different platforms have different posting recommendations based on their features and audience type.
On Twitter, for example, you can publish as often as needed since their characters per post are limited, and the volume of tweets coming in are very high. Your tweet this morning can easily be buried down, and you may have to send another tweet by lunchtime just to keep your followers updated.
Posting frequently on Facebook, on the other hand, is not very ideal because you might lose your followers’ interest too soon. Publishing a content once or twice within the day should be enough.
- Engage with Customers
With social media marketing, it’s not enough that you can build a business page on Facebook or created a video on YouTube.
The important thing is to engage with your audience. Once your profiles are created and promoted, expect that inquiries, questions, and orders will start to come in. Your role as the business owner (or social media manager) is to answer customers’ queries, accept orders, resolve problems, and keep clients engaged and happy.
Be active and available online as much as possible. This way, online customers will know that your business page is not only an advertising platform but also a way to communicate with the people behind the products and services they are interested in.
As you are still running a business, of course, it is only reasonable to promote your products and services to increase both conversions and sales. While posting funny pictures or inspiring quotes is always a hit among social media users, you also should advertise your offerings to your target audience.
You can do this organically or via paid advertisement. Organic marketing is always free but may take time to pick up. Paid advertisements, on the other hand, may require you some marketing budget but the result is instant.
- Accommodate After-Sales Concerns
Your social media marketing efforts should not stop at promoting or advertising your brand, products, and services. Instead, make sure to accommodate after-sales concerns, too. If customers are happy with the way you treat them, they will serve as your brand ambassadors and provide good reviews that will help push your brand further.
SMM Tips and Best Practices
Ready to set up your social media business pages? Wait a second! Here are some more social media marketing tips and best practices you need to keep in mind.
- Set reasonable and realistic goals. While we all dream of getting a million Facebook likes, realize that this doesn’t happen overnight.
- Choose the right social platform for your business. Not all social networking sites will work for you or your brand. Pick one or two to begin with and focus your marketing efforts there.
- Brand your page. Use official business name and logo in all your social media pages. Since social media marketing can help you establish brand recognition and recall, make sure that you take advantage of this opportunity to brand your business online.
- Track marketing insights and analytics. Most social media platforms provide data and insights about your social media activities. Take advantage of these to improve your social marketing campaigns and performance. Learn what works and what doesn’t, and ensure that you compile qualitative feedback and data from customers.
- Use clear and professional photos only. For images that you will get from the Internet, make sure to credit the owner to avoid any plagiarism issues or use royalty-free images.
- Be relatable. Let your followers and fans know that there is a person behind the business page they’re dealing with. While it may help to use automated reply programs to quickly respond to inquiries, make sure you provide personalized answers, too.
- Ask for help. If this seems too overwhelming, it won’t hurt to ask help from social media marketing experts who know this better.
Hire Social Media Marketing Experts
Are you convinced of the power of social media marketing for small businesses, but don’t have the time and knowledge to perform it? We at NerdBox.com can help you set up social media campaigns to generate leads, attract customers, and increase sales. We are composed of a team of social media marketing experts trained to grow small businesses and help them achieve their business goals.
Let’s get started! Contact us now and let’s discuss your requirements.