There is no doubt that social media has revolutionized the world of small business marketing. It has created new avenues for small business entrepreneurs to promote their businesses without putting a dent in their finances.
Unfortunately, not many of these small business owners are making a success of their social media presence. While many have created social media profiles on social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, YouTube, Tumblr and Linkedin very few know what to make of it. It is not surprising therefore that after a few years of creating these profiles many throw in the trowel in frustration.
For example, in a 2013 social media marketing research published by SocialMediaExaminer.com, only about 29% of small business owners (self employed) agreed that their Facebook marketing was effective compared to about 46% businesses with 1000 or more employees!
This is indeed a testament that many small business owners are not finding it easy with social media marketing. And that shows that social media marketing is more than creating profiles on different social media platforms. You may create these profiles because they are free but if you don’t know how to forge deeper connections with potential customers and turn them into paying customers, you will only be wasting your time.
In this article therefore, I want to present to you a few ideas for making a success of your social media marketing as a small business owner.
First, let's answer this very important question...
Why Social Media Marketing?
There are actually various reasons why small businesses want to jump into the social media marketing bandwagon. Apart from the fact that social media marketing is the "new" marketing, the low cost of entry is also a great incentive.
Besides, if used well social media is definitely the best inexpensive tool for acquiring more loyal customers, growing more brand recognition, gaining more repeat business and so much more. This is actually the biggest reason why small business owners, instead of expensive ad buys, are shifting to social media engagements in marketing their wares.
But to make a success of this you will need the right tactics. Here are top nine tactics that will be of great help:
1. Create a Social Media Marketing Plan
Remember time is of essence when it comes to marketing online. To make the best use of your time you need a plan. Creating a plan and setting goals for your social media marketing campaign will help you direct your efforts and also help in measuring what you are doing. Approaching your social media marketing with the "spray and pray" mindset will produce only frustration.
One of the areas your plan should look at is how you are going to integrate social media marketing into your existing marketing strategies. You should be able to lay out what goals and steps you will need to take and the social media tools you need in order to meet your marketing objectives.
2. Learn To Ease In
As mentioned above social media marketing requires time and patience. Most times as a small business owner you are also the marketing department. You must therefore avoid trying to jump in with a big splash!
If you start too big there are two scenarios you might end up with. One, you might end up being overwhelmed and ultimately neglect the whole thing or two, you might end up spending too much time on social media and neglect other importance business duties.
A better route is to start small and then grow things as you learn what works best for your time constraints and business goals. To do this you may need to choose one or two social media platforms where your customers are already congregating and concentrate on these ones instead of trying to work on too many platforms at the same time.
Take some time to research some influencers in your niche and see where they are concentrating their social media efforts on. If, for example you discover that most are spending more time on Facebook than they spend on Twitter, you can take that as an indication that FB is more suitable for your niche than twitter.
Your time can be more effectively used this way rather than trying to focus on all the social media sites out there.
3. Optimize Your Social Media Profiles
First appearance definitely matters a great deal. Beyond trying to use social media to boost your brand visibility, it is also important that you put "personality" in everything you do. One way of doing this is by optimizing your profiles on these sites. Profile optimization will greatly help you gain more followers and also boost your SEO efforts.
Few things you can do to optimize your social profiles include using a real photo instead of using animals or anything that is not real. Write a good description about yourself or your company with specific keywords that indicate what you do.
A profile with your real photo will help people connect with you more easily while a good optimized description will help you drive more traffic from the search engines.
4. Create and Share Valuable Content
People on social media are looking to be entertained and informed!
Set yourself apart as an expert in your field by creating and sharing valuable content that both engage and entertain your followers. Of course, as a small business owner you are an expert in your target niche and you have sound advice and informed opinions to share with your social media followers.
Even in areas you don’t count yourself as an expert you can always search online and then create content around those questions and problems peculiar to your potential customers. This way your value to customers will skyrocket. If you can create your content with a professional touch providing plenty of links to other sites, blogs, or news articles, you will greatly increase your value.
5. Learn To Listen
You must understand that social media is about building relationships and not marketing. That may sound contradictory but it is the truth anyway. Instead of falling into the error of spending a whole lot of time talking about how great your product is or how great your business is, hoping that that will bring more sales, you should learn to listen to what your customers are saying.
Remember people are using social media to connect and converse with one another. Use it right by being a "friend" who is ready to listen and you will be able to build strong social relationships with you customers which will work great for you in the long run.
6. Cross-Pollination Your Content
Once you have created your social media profiles ensure that these are connected to your business website. One of the advantages of doing this is that it helps you to cross-promote your content reducing the time you would have spend in updating all your profiles. Also, it helps the search engines and social media websites correctly determine which website corresponds to which social media page.
All of these will boost your engagement rate and also traffic to your business site.
7. Make the Best Use of Your Time
Timing is very important as far as social media marketing is concerned. Apart from the fact that people have very short attention span online, these is also so much noise that instead of trying to "force" yourself into that noise, plan and schedule your updates - emails, tweets, status updates and blog posts - so that you can catch your audience when they are more receptive to your messages.
Do your research to know when best to update. Once you know the best time when your target audience is more receptive you can use tools like Buffer and HootSuite to schedule your updates so that they can be published at the right time.
8. Be Personal
As mentioned above social media is about personal interactions. When interacting with your audience on social media it is important that you make them feel they are dealing with another human being and not just a business. Done well this will inspire a greater feeling of loyalty toward your business. As a small business owner you have more opportunity of doing this as you can easily inject yourself and your opinions into every conversation. Nevertheless, remember you are there for business. Knowing this will help you take control of the conversation and then steer it to suit your business objectives.
9. Issue Calls to Action
Various researches have shown that people will not just engage with your content without your asking. For example, a report from the Buddy Media says Facebook posts with questions generate 92 percent higher comment rates than posts without questions. This means putting questions on your social media post will greatly help in engaging with your customers.
Whenever you post an update include some form of call to action that will engage your audience. You may ask a question or even ask them to fill in some blank spaces! These may drive more engagement thereby increasing the chances of your content going viral and bringing you greater success.
Recommended Reading: [Quick Guide] How To Use Social Media Marketing To Acquire Loyal Customers!
If you will implement the above social media marketing tactics for your small business you will definitely make a success of your social media marketing strategy. It will ensure increased business exposure and also more traffic to your business site.
However, driving that huge traffic from the social media sites without a lead generation strategy in place to capture new visitors to your site will amount to a waste of time and effort.
For social media traffic to be useful for your small business, it is important that you capture visitors' contact info and then implement a system that will help you build long-term relationships with these new contacts.
A good optin builder that will help you build great landing pages and engaging calls-to-action is what you need. There are hundreds of such tools out there but one that I recommend is not only cost-effective but also very easy to use.
You can get more details about this great tool by clicking here.
Your Turn: What social media marketing tactics are you presently using? Will care to share with us in your comments below?