Social media has come a long way in a short amount of time. What was once a new fad to keep in touch with old friends is now central to the way many people socialize, keep track of the news, and even shop. That’s why a social media presence is essential for the modern small business. Getting followers, comments, and shares doesn’t happen overnight, but with a good social media strategy you can build your following and convert those followers to customers.
The Importance of Social Media Presence for Small Businesses
Gone are the days when a robust advertising department and sky-high budget are necessary to promote a business. Social media allows small companies to compete with the big corporations for relatively little money. Why not take advantage of it? A strong social media presence, along with a professional website, also signals to potential customers that your company is legitimate.
What is Social Media Marketing?
Social media marketing is the process of using social media to promote a brand, product, or service. This includes taking out ads on social media platforms and using branded accounts to interact with followers. Social media marketing goes hand in hand with other ingredients of modern marketing strategy like content marketing and SEO.
How to Increase Your Social Media Presence
Set SMART Goals
Goals make the difference between a strategy and winging it Some examples of common social media goals include:
- Increase brand awareness
- Generate leads and sales
- Grow your brand’s audience
- Boost community engagement
- Drive traffic to your site
The goals of any marketing campaign should be SMART:
Use the Right Platforms For You
The big social media platforms are:
You don’t need an account with every social media platform on earth, but don’t write off the ones that don’t seem like obvious fits for your business either. When you decide which platforms to use, do some research on how popular social media channels’ user demographics compare to your own. Don’t just go by your assumptions about who uses each platform.
For example, some people think Facebook is primarily used by older people. However, Facebook has more users in the 25-34 bracket than any other age group. If you don’t use Facebook, you’re also missing out on their ad targeting capabilities. TikTok is more popular with teenagers than other age groups, but not as drastically as you might think. 10-19-year-olds make up 25% of their users, followed closely by 20-29-year-olds at 22.4%.
It’s also important to consider the time and resources that different social media platforms take. Is your business visual enough for Instagram and Pinterest? Do you have time to make original videos for YouTube?
Identify Your Audience
Knowing your target audience is essential for promoting your business, especially on social media.
Do your Research
The first step to effectively targeting your audience is doing some research on your current audience. Find out data on…
- Job Title
- Pain Points (that your business can solve)
- Most Used Social Network
Using what you assume about your audience’s demographics and purchasing habits could do your actual audience a disservice.
Create Audience Personas
Audience personas are a tool marketers use to help visualize their target audience by distilling it down to one person. It’s easier to think about what Business Owner Brad would buy than a series of demographics.
Track Your Competitors
Your competitors are vying for the same target audience’s attention. It's only logical to find out what they’re doing and what people are saying about them. The two main ways to do that are competitive analysis and social listening. Competitive analysis is conducting research on your competitors strengths and weaknesses on social media. Social listening is finding out what others on social media are saying about you or your competitors.
Create an Editorial Calendar
A social media calendar is a schedule of your upcoming social media posts. It can be a Google Calendar, a spreadsheet, or a social media management app. Each entry usually includes:
- The date and time the post will go live
- The network and account it will be published on
- The copy and visuals
- Links and tags
- Any other details relevant to posting it
No matter what it looks like, a social media content calendar allows you to plan content in context of larger digital marketing campaigns.
When to Post to Each Channel
How often and what time of day you post content matters. Algorithms reward frequent posters, but going overboard can backfire. Here are the optimal post frequencies and high traffic times by network:
1-2x per day
8:00 AM to 12:00 PM on Tuesdays and Thursdays
3-10x per day
8:00 AM on Mondays and Thursdays
1-3x per day
11:00 AM on Wednesdays
3-20x per day
10:00 AM on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays
1-2x per week
9:00 AM on Tuesdays and Wednesdays
The results may vary depending on your industry, but these are a good starting point for creating a posting schedule.
Make Your Presence Known
You could have the best social media profiles in the world, but you won’t get followers if people don’t know you’re there.
Include Icons on Your Website
If your website is a potential customer’s first point of contact with your company, invite them to follow you on social media by clearly displaying clickable icons so they can easily follow you.
Don’t Be Afraid to Pay
Paid ads can go much further than regular social media posts. This is especially true on Facebook and Instagram with their famous ad targeting capabilities.
Optimize Profiles for SEO
Search engine optimization isn’t just for your website and blog posts. Social media profiles can be optimized for it by including keywords your target audience is likely to search in your bios.
Work with Influencers
An influencer is a person who is active on social media and who people follow to learn more about a topic they're interested. Most influencers have deals with companies in which they receive a free product in exchange for a review. These deals are a great way to promote your company to a captive audience.
Once you've set up your social media profiles, find some influencers who are relevant to your business and reach out to them.
Create Content People Want to See
A good content strategy includes different types of content for a variety of purposes. If your social media pages are full of “buy this now” posts, people will probably get bored with it. Here are a few ways to keep your content engaging, authentic, and current.
Your social media presence may be a representation of your company, but that doesn’t mean it should sound stuffy or robotic. Posts like staff spotlights, behind the scenes photos and videos, and stories about your company’s past and present show the human side of your business. Using informal language that is easy to understand makes all of your posts human and accessible.
Pictures, videos, and other visual content get more engagement than text alone. Whenever possible, your posts should have a visual component. Original photos are best whenever possible, but you can also use Unsplash for free high-quality stock photos and Canva to easily make infographics and other designs.
Focus on Helping Over Selling
People buy things for a lot of reasons. Sometimes it’s because the item is pretty or because the buyer is drunk and just got paid. One of the strongest reasons people buy things is because they solve a problem. When you’re creating social media content, consider what problems your product or service can solve for your potential customers. Informative content also helps establish you and your business as authority figures in your field.
Piggyback on Trends
Trending topics make the social media world go ‘round. Getting your company’s name in the conversation of trending topics is a great way to reach new audiences and to look in the know. Don’t force it if it can’t look natural, though.
An active presence makes your business look more legitimate to onlookers and keeps you fresh on your followers’ minds. Social media moves at the speed of light and you don’t want to get left behind.
Stick to Your Brand Voice and Aesthetic
No matter what kind of content you post and how many people are working on your social media accounts, your content should have a unified voice. Playing on the different strengths of your marketing staff doesn’t hurt, but the most important thing is accurately representing your brand.
Engage Your Audience
A social media presence isn’t just about putting content out into the world and calling it a day. How you engage with your audience is another important piece of the puzzle.
Manage Your Community
Community Management is the process of creating a community to facilitate interactions between a business' customers, employees, and customers. These interactions allow customers to feel heard and businesses to improve their customer experience. Community Management allows businesses to:
- Get audience feedback
- Provide quality customer support
- Increase brand awareness
- Learn more about customers' pain points and needs
- Build relationships with customers
- Provide value beyond a product or service
Tackle Customer Complaints Efficiently
Customers taking to social media to complain happens. Have a plan for what to do about it, including
- What merits a response
- Some prepared responses
- Who and what to direct them to in order to resolve their complaint
Be sure to answer questions quickly and to stay professional even when they're not.
Take Advantage User-Generated Content
Content posted by your customers is a powerful, authentic endorsement of your company. You can take advantage of user-generated content by encouraging customers to post photos of your work and tag you in them, then sharing them on your own pages, with attribution of course. Some companies use photos and posts by their customers on their websites and in other marketing materials. Before you do that, make sure you have permission from the creators of the posts.
Own Your Mistakes
Everybody makes mistakes. Whether a batch of products with an error went out for delivery or a tweet didn’t land, how you handle it may affect your reputation more than the mistake itself. The best course of action is to own up to the mistake, apologize, and make it right.
Hashtags are the way to get visible to more than just your followers. They are particularly relevant on Twitter and Instagram. On Twitter, stick to one or two so you stay within the character limit. Instagram has room for more hashtags, but stick to relevant ones with a lot of followers.
Make Your Content Easy to Share
Content that is easy to share is essential to growing your following. When your followers share your content, it grows the audience on that post which often leads to more followers and interactions.
Responding to every DM might be too much for a person to handle. Consider using chatbots to take away some of the burden by giving customized answers to a specific set of frequently asked questions.
Use Tools to Monitor Your Activity
Keep track of your social media analytics. Every platform has metrics features that track data like shares, likes, retweets, comments, and views. If you want to see how many people made purchases because they clicked on your social media links, you can find out with Google Analytics.
Understand That It's a Long Game
A strong social media following doesn’t happen overnight. Schemes to get followers quickly may pay off in the short term, but they’ll bite you in the back later on. Followers who are real, engaging people have the potential to make money for your business.
Learn From Your Mistakes and Successes
Compare the engagement on your content over time. See what content does well and what doesn’t. Celebrate the wins when you make them and learn from the ones that fall short.
How Sav Can Help
We don’t stop helping you grow your business when your website goes live. We make it easy to promote your website and sell your products and services on social media. Build your website today!