How to Use Social Media for Small Businesses
If you have a business, you likely spend a lot of your time trying to dig up the latest social media trends and marketing tips.
As of now there are now 4.2 billion active social media users, this is almost twice as many as there were just five years ago. On average a user spends about 2 hours and 25 minutes on different social media channels every day.
Social media sites have become a hugely important part of our daily lives from the first thing in the morning to the last thing we use at night. When the pandemic happened social media has become more important than ever by keeping in touch with our friends and family.
Our social media accounts provide us with a way to stay in touch with our close ones without putting us at risk of infection or spreading the disease.
It’s become apparent that social media sites are essentially part of our 21st century lifestyle, and social channels show no signs of decreasing any time soon.
That means that you can expect them to remain an important part of the social media plan if you aim to grow your business in the months and years to come.
Social media offers small businesses, freelancers, artists and the self-employed the opportunity to quickly disseminate information about their products, brands and services. More than large companies, they rely on making a big impact with a small marketing budget.
Social media marketing: areas of application
Companies can use social media to influence the public perception of the company. Social media marketing can be used for customer service and market research. This form of marketing is also suitable for the areas of personnel / HR and research & development. In addition, it can even be used for internal company communication .
The instruments already discussed include the social networks and video platforms. The areas of application also include company blogs, micro-blog platforms (Twitter), location-based services (Foursquare) and so-called wikis (web blogs without access restrictions).
Web blogs, online magazines, webinars, video tutorials and podcasts increase the interaction between the company and the potential customers. The activities in social media marketing also improve the placement in the common search engines.
What to look for in social media marketing
- Creating a strategy: what do you want to achieve on social media?
- Define goals (SMART) and target group: who do you want to reach?
- Choosing platforms consciously: where does your target group prefer to be?
- Create content with added value: avoid advertising
- Don’t be bored: playful elements such as competitions bring more feedback
- Plan a budget: even small budgets can help to significantly increase the reach and shares of your posts
- Keep an eye on the competition: Learn from your competition!
- Evaluate results: use the network’s analysis tools
- Be prepared for any crises or criticism : when you should definitely react
- Establish internal responsibilities: don’t leave your fans alone
- Establish uniform communication guidelines: the company should speak with one voice
In social media marketing, quality should always come before quantity. This is the only way to ensure that the feedback from your fan base is also constructive. Because positive reviews from the fan community are known to be the best advertising, while criticism – whether justified or unjustified – can make the rounds at breakneck speed and cause a real crisis.
Your communication in social media must therefore be characterized by a high degree of willingness to dialogue on your part. Always respond to feedback in a friendly and open manner, especially if you have negative comments. Admit mistakes and be factual about unfair allegations. And: refrain from buying “fake fans” or “fake comments”. Because here in particular the old saying applies: “Honesty lasts the longest”. Internet users quickly notice when something is fake and bought fans have no value, on the contrary: they can damage your reputation.
Success factor: emotion
If you only post factual information or flat advertising on social media, you will not be successful. Social media is mainly used on mobile devices and on the side. This means that the attention span of the user is very small and emotions often trigger attention.
Social media posts should therefore not overwhelm the user, be very simple, short and the address should be as emotional as possible.
The following strategies rely on emotion and are therefore particularly successful on social media channels:
- Do something good
- malicious joy
Check whether your post covers one of these aspects and then analyze which type of posts are particularly well received on your channel.
What is social media for small business – an overview
Social media marketing offers small businesses the opportunity to acquire customers via social networks such as Facebook, Google+, Pinterest and Twitter or in professional networks such as LinkedIn, Xing and Slideshare. Basically, it is necessary to set up a profile on these networks and keep it up to date with regular contributions (posts, tweets, updates). In the best case scenario, this news will then be picked up by other readers, fans and followers and disseminated further. In this way you achieve visibility with your company, the brands, products and services that you offer. If you then always draw attention to your website and, as in the social media profiles, offer prospective customers the option of contacting them by phone, form or email, you will win new customers.
Gaining fans and followers for social media profiles
In order to generate the necessary attention for your company on social media profiles, you need subscribers for profiles – in social networks they are called fans and followers. There are several approaches to getting these fans:
- Write personally to all acquaintances, business partners and customers
- Point out the social media profiles on your company website
- Place links to social media profiles in your newsletter and email signature
Spread news on social media profiles
In order to inform these fans and followers about your company’s products, brands and services, you have to publish interesting news on a regular basis. At best, these will then be picked up and recommended by your existing fans, thus creating new fans. This virality arises in social networks because people in their social environment have friends and acquaintances with similar interests.
If you work as a yoga teacher, for example, you will first win all of your current and former customers as fans of your Facebook page. The chances that these people will have people in your circle of acquaintances who also like yoga or similar offers and belong to your target group is very high. Social media is the ideal marketing environment for small companies to create new customers through recommendations.
Social Media Marketing for Small Businesses
Now, of course, the effort has to be kept in such a way that you can concentrate on your business and the Internet and social media marketing channel functions independently. You don’t want to run the newspapers in which your ad is placed yourself.
Fine Sites offers an all-round package: We create your website with WordPress, have professional authors create tailor-made news for you and publish them on your blog and social media profiles.
Social media for small businesses: 6 tips
1) Follow your customers where they really are
Social media has little to do with the business itself – there is your audience, customers, or whoever you’re trying to reach.
It is said that you have to think like the customer: the same goes for social media.
Start by asking yourself: considering my type of business, which platforms make the most sense to use?
Which ones are you most likely to find customers on? If it is true that Facebook is the undisputed king of social media in Italy, it is also true that some target groups can be reached more easily and more successfully on “niche” platforms.
Not sure where your customers are? Find out and do some investigation. However, a social media expert will surely have an idea on which platforms to adopt and which to avoid.
2) Social media are not “free”
Social media is attractive to small businesses due to its perceived price tag.
You can set up a blog, page, video channel etc. without paying a cent.
However, even if there is a minimum price to “enter”, social networks are far from free , because they require time, energy and effort, to always create interesting content, monitor conversations and respond.
And don’t they say that time is money?
Instead of fumbling around trying to juggle hundreds of social communities, choose to focus on one or at most two important platforms in your market.
Determine your key goals and define who will be responsible for maintaining the active profile (s).
3) Don’t measure success by numbers alone
As a small business, there’s no point in despairing over the numbers game or trying to have communities of big brand followers – you need to focus more on who gets involved, how they interact and at what level.
Your goal must be to create a page of devoted and enthusiastic fans , not a huge group of indifferent individuals!
You have to be patient, combine the organic strategy with the paid one, but avoid borderline services that buy fake followers / likes like the plague.
Remember that having many “dormant” followers, that is, who don’t interact, could even be penalizing for your page.
4) Social media is not just “promotion”
Posting sterile product or company information, writing boring self-congratulatory news, or filling the page with promotional or pricing posts is counterproductive.
Instead, show the people, the faces, the story behind your product / service and above all, focus on the customers and not just the company.
It is obvious that the ultimate goal is sales, but together with promotional posts you offer advice, solutions and information : ideally you should try to follow the ratio 80 (advice and info) / 20 (promotion).
5) Get ideas but don’t copy
The big multinationals and the most famous brands know how to create memorable social media campaigns.
Learn from the best, be curious, take note from the big brands and even your competitors. But don’t copy !
In addition to ethics, there is one more problem. Just because something has worked for a company doesn’t mean it will work for your community.
Learn from others but adapt your work to your needs, goals and customers.
6) Delegate but without losing interest
As an entrepreneur, you need to have a 360-degree view but you can’t take care of everything yourself.
And above all, you have to admit that you are not an expert in every field that involves your business.
Specialize your employees or better yet, look for serious external collaborators.
In fact, an outsourced figure has the opportunity to work in close contact with numerous realities that have different objectives, problems and needs: his varied wealth of experience can thus become an advantage for your company and enrich your way of operating.
Work closely with your consultant, conveying to him / her the key values and philosophy of the company so that he can transfer it into the social media marketing strategy.
However, avoid being completely disinterested because the inside of the company plays an important role in defining the message, for all communications.
Social Media and Marketing: start with a plan
Before you start creating a social media marketing campaign on Facebook , Instagram, LinkedIn , etc, you need to consider your sales and branding goals. Starting a social media marketing campaign without a strategic plan is like walking in a forest without a map: the only thing you will get is getting lost.
Create a social media marketing plan and reflect on the goals to be achieved: what do you hope to achieve through social media marketing? What is your target audience? Where can you contact this target audience and how do they use social media? What message do you want to send to your target audience?
Social Media Marketing: developing goals
Social media marketing can help you achieve a number of goals, such as:
- Increase in profiled traffic to your business website
- Increase in leads and conversions
- Increase in brand awareness
- Create a brand identity and a positive brand image (brand reputation)
- Communicate and interact empathetically with your customers
The best tips for learning social media marketing
Here are some social media marketing tips for getting your bearings correctly during all social media campaigns.
Planning – As stated earlier, building a social media marketing plan is essential. It is necessary to identify the keywords, ideas and content that could interest the target audience.
Content is the most important factor – As with other areas of online marketing, content is the most important thing when it comes to social media marketing. Make sure you provide interesting and viral information to your customers. Create different types of content using images , videos and infographics , in addition to classic content marketing.
Be Consistent – Using social media for marketing allows your business to advertise brand and products across a wide range of channels. While each platform has its own unique environment, the heart of your online communication must remain the same across all channels.
Blog – A blog is a great social media marketing tool that allows you to share a wide range of information and valuable content to readers . Your business blog can also serve as a social media marketing blog, thus creating a place to showcase your company’s activities.
Links – Even if the use of social media for marketing is mainly based on the unique and original sharing of content concerning one’s business, in order to gain more and more followers, enthusiasts and fans, it is also excellent for linking external articles. If other sources provide information that you think is valuable to your target audience, it is helpful to link to them. Linking to external sources improves trust and reliability, and it is also possible to receive the same favor.
Keeping track of competitors – It is always important to keep an eye on competitors, who can provide valuable data on keyword research, links associated with the business, and other important information. If your competitors are using a certain social media marketing technique that seems to work for them, you just need to do the same thing, but better.
Measuring success with Google Analytics – It is not possible to determine the success of social media marketing strategies without using user behavior analysis tools. Google Analytics can be used to measure the degree of appreciation of the techniques used, as well as determine which strategies are best to abandon. It is therefore necessary to carefully follow social media marketing campaigns in order to be able to monitor their performance.
Now you know everything you need to know about developing and deploying a social media marketing strategy and how to use social media for small businesses, it’s up to you to put what you’ve learned into your own practice.
Spend some time looking over your marketing strategy and make sure that your social media presence is effective.
As you find what works, expand your efforts and your audience. One of the great advantages of social media for small businesses is you can use the tools in whatever way makes the most sense for your business and your customer persona.
You can grow your small business using Hootsuite. From a single dashboard you can publish and schedule messages to all your social media platforms, engage your followers, and monitor what people are saying about your brand online. You can try Hootsuite for free today.