Social media marketing for small businesses
10 steps for social media success
Social media marketing is a great tool for small businesses and one that you just cannot ignore. The number of people engaging in social media networks every single minute is so big and if your business is not participating in this mega digital party, you are missing out opportunities.
Obviously the next question is how can business owners take advantage of social media and whether it is something that can generate business results (i.e. more traffic, sales, leads, signups) or if it is just another myth?
#1 – Let’s get started
The first step is to actually move from theory to practice and get started with social media. This means 4 things:
- To allocate some time on a daily basis to work on your social media presence
- To choose which social media networks to use at the beginning since there are too many and it will be very difficult to do all at the same time.
- To create your business pages on those networks
- To analyse your digital assest (like your website)
- To SEO optimize your social media profiles for more exposure
Some things to consider:
Facebook – Everybody is on Facebook so you don’t actually have a choice here. Read this to get inspired: How to get your first 10,000 fans on Facebook.
LinkedIn – Mainly for business professionals, more difficult to use, advertising is expensive. However, if you are offering professional services or if your target audience belong to a well defined business group, then you must use it. You can create your presence on LinkedIn but if you are short of time, I suggest you start using LinkedIn for your personal profile and then when you grow your business network, you can utilize LinkedIn for your business as well.
Instagram - Mostly of lighter content focusing on lifestyle and celebrity visuals. Although it has been popular with younger audiences, its commercial value is relatively low and mostly indirect. If your business is related to the fashion or lifestyle you may use this utilising Influencers or micro influencers. A smarter idea is to avoid a business presence on this channel and attempt using it indurectly through mentions from existing clients.
Twitter – not as many local users. Relatively easy to maintain and engage with your customers. Together with the previous 3, this is your priority list.
#2 – Start Small
When you are ready to get started do not rush into following hundreds of people, posting many times per day, boosting posts and checking your statistics every minute. Start small and have in mind that:
- Social Networks do not like too much activity on newly created accounts (it’s not normal and kind of spammy)
- All networks have a maximum number of actions (following and unfollowing) you can do per day so the best way is to stay below their radar.
- At the beginning and when you don’t have a good number of followers, nobody will see your posts so don’t spend your time for no reason.
- Organic reach will mostly rely on how complete and how good your presence is. Spend time compleating you business page rather than generating posts
#3 – It’s a numbers game
While there are millions of people in social media channels, in order to start getting traffic, making sales or have any influence at all, you need to have a LOT of followers in your channels. And by a LOT, I mean a LOT and let me explain why.
When you publish a new post on your business page on Facebook that post will be seen by a small percentage of your followers (FB tells you how many people saw your posts so have a closer look to understand what I mean).
Let’s say that you have 4,000 fans on your page, when you post something only 100 or so people will see it and this is because Facebook does not show the posts to all your fans.
Yet, although Facebook will show your post to these followers, if a person is following a lot of other people/pages, there are limited chances that they will see and interact with your posts.
So, the more followers you have, the greater are your chances of start getting anything out of social media. From my experience and without this being a definite guide, you need at least 10,000 on FB, 500 on Linkedin, 1,000 on Twitter and 2,000 on Instagram before seeing any visitors to your website or shop. Of course as I said this is not a rule but an empirical figure.
#4 – Engage with people that matter
Unless you are a well known brand, in order to grow your followers you need to engage with other people (follw them, target them) and some of them will follow you back. When choosing who to target be selective by applying these simple techniques:
- Target people that have a relation with your business either geographically (i.e. they live in the same area) or by interest (they are interested directly or indirectly in the products or services you are selling).
- Targtet people who have an active profile; there is no reason to follow someone on instagram or twitter if they haven’t posted anything for two months.
- Target people that have a balance between the people they follow and people following them – you don’t want to follow people that will not follow you back and also you don’t want to follow accounts that only have following and no followers
- Targtet people that have something interesting to say – before following someone have a look at what they share and decide if this is something your customers would like to see in your profile.
- Find and target the influencers in your niche – every business area and niche has influencers and although they will not follow you back, it’s always a good practice to connect with them and follow what they have to say about the industry.
#5 – It’s time consuming – make sure you have the time
Social media marketing is relatively easy to do but it is a very time consuming task. Before starting make sure that you have the time to do this consistently and on a daily basis. I would say that a couple of hours per day is enough to get you started.
If this sounds a lot then you can either consider to outsource social media to professionals or start with fewer networks (for example Facebook only) and then when you find time jump in to the rest.
Have in mind though that if you don’t spend the necessary time working your business pages, you will be disappointed by the results and start believing that social media does not work for business (an assumption that is totally wrong).
#6 – Make your posts interesting
As I mentioned before, search engines and social media networks can only understand one thing, and this is content. This means that besides working on getting new followers, you also need content.
If you already have a content marketing strategy then your work on social media will be easier but if you don’t, then you need to come up with a plan, along these lines:
- Post about your products and services but don’t overdo it – Your business page is about your business but if you keep posting about how nice your products are, you will keep people away.
- Instead you should make your posts interesting by providing tips, advice, offers and anything else that can make someone share or comment in your posts.
- Remember people will only follow you if you have something to say which is of interest to them. If your posts interest you but not them, they will not follow or interact with you.
- Don’t forget that in order to get any likes, shares, or comments you need to have a LOT of followers. Don’t expect this to happen in the first few months or when your numbers are still low.
- Have a look at one of social media pages we manage for one of our clients. Look at the variety of postings, frequency, tone, format etc.
#7 – Timing does matter
The time and date you post something in social media matters a lot. As mentioned above, people have a lot of posts in their timelines and if they don’t see it ‘live’ then most probably they will never see it. Also you need to touch base at a time that your followers are relaxed and receptive.
For example, if you post something on Facebook and your followers are sleeping at that time, by the time they will wake up they will have hundreds of messages in their timeline and so there is no or little chance of seeing your post.
To solve this problem, you can schedule your postings so that you reach your target audience at a time where you have more followers online. Most social media offer statistics to let you know when you followers are most active. Take the time to study them before finalising your post strategy.
#8 – Follow up comments and mentions about your business
Social media is about two way communication and this means that you need to monitor your social media pages for comments about your business and definitely respond to both good and bad comments. You need to show your audience that you are reading what they have to say and care about their opinion.
Besides monitoring your business pages, you should also monitor the mentions about your brand name in across all social networks and take action where appropriate. A nice tool to do that is mention (it’s not free).
#9 – Measure the results and your return
If you don’t measure the effectiveness of social media then you won’t know if it worth’s your time or not. What to measure?
- Number of visits from social media to your website
- Number of conversions (sales, newsletter signups, etc)
- Monthly increase of followers
- Monthly increase of interactions
- Whatever else is relevant to the success of your business<.li>
How to measure?
- Using Google Analytics reports and statistics provided for business pages by the various social networks.
- Social media analitics will allow you to analyse social media activity such as reach, views, engagements, etc
Note: If you still at the beginning then most probably those numbers will be low or close to zero but don’t get disappointed, once you grow your followers you will notice that these numbers will start to increase as well.
#10 – If everything fails, leave it to the pros
Social media works for businesses and this is a fact. It is also true that every problem has a solution so if you don’t have the time or knowledge to make social media work for your business then leave it to the pros; we have different social media packages for each budget and need and we guarantee minimum results.
Take a look at the customers we manage and compare the content we develop for them in relation to wht you have developed. Ask for a quote and compare it to your cost and results.
Social media is a great tool for promoting your business online. It is the modern way to connect with your potential customers and if you want to stay in synch with the latest developments in marketing, you have to socialize your business.
Getting results is not hard but it is a time consuming process that needs patience and a lot of work. The competition is high in all networks and you need to do something special to get the attention of users and establish your social presence.