Social media is, by far, the best way to connect with your potential customers and build meaningful relationships with existing customers and fans. It allows you to show the human side of your business and prove that you care.
Today, if you don’t have an active presence on social media, you are missing out on acquiring an audience that’s ready and willing to connect with your brand.
Social media marketing is, in fact, one of the finest ways to lower customer acquisition costs (CAC) and increase customer lifetime value (CLV). It is an integral part of any digital marketing strategy. And yet, many businesses fail to leverage social media to its fullest capacity. That’s because social media marketing is often perceived as an overwhelming task that requires a lot of time and money to deliver compelling ROI.
The thing is, though, using social media to effectively market your small business doesn’t have to be scary or expensive.
Here are five great tips to get the best out of your social media marketing efforts without breaking the bank.
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Know Your Target Audience and Platforms
This first step may seem obvious, but do you really know your audience – their age range, interests, likes/dislikes, what motivates them to buy, what content they might find offensive, and so on?
Also, do you know on which social platform(s) does your audience typically hangs out? You surely don’t want to waste time and effort posting your precious content on the wrong platforms where you’ll find little-to-no engagement and, thus, little-to-no ROI.
For instance, your “gut feeling” might tell you that you should leave out Facebook and concentrate on Instagram and Snapchat if you’re targeting millennials. However, the data shows that 82 percent of millennials still use Facebook.
So, take the time to do your research. Study and survey your existing customer base. Ask them what social channels they prefer or use the most. Study your competition’s strategy. Which platforms are your competitors focusing on? Use all this data to decide which platforms you should really focus your efforts on.
Here is a handy compilation of social media demographics for all major social networks.
And remember that you don’t need to have a presence on every social platform. For example, if you’re into the restaurant business, Instagram and Facebook are the channels which you should typically focus your efforts on. Similarly, if you’re a small SaaS startup, LinkedIn and Twitter might be your best bet. Still, when in doubt, turn to data.
Draft a Social Media Calendar and Automate Your Posting Schedule
Every successful business endeavor starts with a solid plan. Social media marketing is no exception. It might be tempting to skip the strategy phase and start posting sporadically.
While you can do that, it would be highly advisable not to. You see, without a plan in place, you wouldn’t have a clear picture of what you are trying to achieve and whether you are succeeding in your social media marketing efforts.
Plus, what if you miss an important occasion/event that’s highly relevant to your business and audience? Say, you own a pizzeria, and it’s #nationalpizzaday. A loyal, regular customer calls your business and asks, “What’s special for this National Pizza Day?” and you stand there, clueless. Not cool.
With your audience and platform(s) defined, the next thing you need to do is create a working social media calendar. As shown below, it’ll fix your posting schedule for the coming weeks/months and take all the guesswork out of the picture by clearly defining the type of content, time of posting, the network, and the copy. It’s a great way to start, and of course, you can always edit the calendar later on if the need arises.
If you don’t want to build a social media calendar from scratch, here are some excellent tips and templates that are worth checking out.
Then, with social media management tools like Hootsuite and Buffer, you can automate your social media posting by scheduling posts for all your target platforms at once.
All About the Visuals
Essentially, social media marketing is all about posting visually entrancing content. Twitter’s internal data proves people are three times more likely to engage with Tweets, including visual content: images, GIFs, and videos. The modern audience is true, craving a visual experience.
Even if you’re not selling scrumptious burgers and potato wedges, you can use beautiful imagery to drive more engagement. For example, you can reveal your business’s behind-the-scenes or your company culture from images inside the office. Or how about showcasing photos of some happy customers?
Specifically, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube are visual-first social platforms. So if your content here doesn’t look appealing, no one would bother to stop scrolling and engage with your copy.
Thus, make it a point to create stunning visuals or hire a professional graphic designer to do it for you. Shoddy won’t cut it, plain and simple.
Monitor and Respond to All Social Media Conversations About Your Brand
The best part about using social media for your business is that it enables direct, two-way communication with your customers in a public setting. According to a report from Twitter and Research Now, 93 percent of people who follow small- and medium-sized businesses on Twitter plan to purchase from the SMBs they follow.
So, you can (and should) choose to build long-term relationships with your prospects and customers, which will eventually translate to more sales instead of shoving an offer down their throats.
Now, like it or not, people will always be talking about your business or brand across the social sphere (including review sites like Trustpilot). They could be praising your business or expressing disappointment. Either way, if you want to win on social media, you have to respond to both types of mentions in a tactful and timely manner.
Never ignore negative comments about your business or fret over them but treat them as an opportunity to prove you care about customer satisfaction. Respond courteously with a genuine promise of a better experience next time.
Use social media monitoring tools like Hootsuite, Brand24, or Mention to track and categorize your online mentions and respond without delay.
Track Your Performance
Last but not least, tracking your social media performance is just as important as putting in all the effort in the first place. That’s because it’ll help keep track of what works and what doesn’t so you can fine-tune your efforts and continually improve your results.
While all major social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) have their own built-in tracking and analytics tools, it can be difficult to manage all of them together. So, if you have a presence on three or more platforms, you should consider using social media analytics tools such as Sprout Social and Brandwatch to more efficiently track your performance
Once you find your rhythm and have a clear picture of how your strategy is working, it’s time to start searching for means to get even greater results by performing A/B testing. Using split testing, you can make small, incremental changes to your social strategy to boost results over time.
Regardless of how big or small your business is, it is imperative for you to leverage the power of social media platforms to build your audience, sustain it, and ultimately, increase your brand equity. If it seems overwhelming, start small. Choose one or two social networks and slowly scale your social media marketing efforts to other major platforms.
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