According to Hootsuite, 90% of brands use social media to increase brand awareness. 77% of brands say they expect their social media use to increase. Long story short, social media marketing continues to play a big role in brand strategy and success. Here are a few steps on ways to use social media marketing to grow your small business.
1. Choose the right platforms
If you’re interested in using social media marketing to grow your small business, know that not all platforms are created equally. Each one serves its own purpose and they all have strengths and weaknesses. The social media sites you choose to use should be determined by your industry and audience.
For example, if you’re a real estate agent you’ll want to invest heavily in Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
First of all, Facebook is a great way to connect with local community groups and your network. Engage with them by commenting on posts related to housing or local events.
You can also spread the word about your open houses and other in-person events.
Consider sharing news from key neighborhoods to establish yourself as a thought leader.
A purely visual medium, Instagram is the place for sharing photos and videos of your gorgeous properties.
Target specific groups of buyers by tagging high-value points of interest near or around your listings. Use Instagram Live to tour properties and answer questions in real time.
While you can share photos and videos here too, Twitter is at its best when the information you share is short and powerful.
Craft a timeline of Tweets that include listings, relevant expert tips, and home improvement resources. Retweet interesting accounts and info that your audience would enjoy.
If you’re unsure what platforms are right for your business, look up your competitors. If they all seem to be using Pinterest or LinkedIn, include those in your initial plan of attack.
2. Learn best practices
The key to learning social media best practices for each different platform is time. Using social media marketing to grow your small business won’t happen overnight. Each platform has its own set of rules (both unwritten and established) and ways to connect with your audience. Give yourself time to figure it out.
Plus, what works for someone else’s audience might not work for yours. Create a plan, evaluate your results, and adjust along the way.
Remember, social media marketing is an on-going and ever-changing world, so it may take some trial and error to find your groove.3
3. Set realistic goals
When you’re just getting started on using social media marketing to grow your business, it’s hard to gauge what is feasible and what’s a pipe dream for followers. You might slave away creating a valuable piece of content that only gets a share or two. You may spend hardly any time on a tweet or Facebook post and see tons of engagement.
When it comes to follower count, it’s important not to spend time and energy on worrying about the follower count. 100 followers who are engaged and enthusiastic are worth more than 10,000 random follows and bots.
Speaking of bots, or “fake followers,” buying followers to boost your numbers is a quick fix to see a larger number, but it’s not a long-term solution. It’s a bad way to represent your brand and it often leads to social platforms penalizing brand pages and businesses.
Let your brand organically grow and gain the right kind of followers.
4. Track and measure progress
How you measure your progress will depend on your goal. Using social media marketing to grow your small business is, as we’ve already explored, very individual.
For example, if you’re a marketing agency you might want to focus on followers. This will (theoretically) translate into more eyes on your content and build brand recognition.
If you’re a financial advisor, maybe you concentrate on post engagement for a special deal during tax season.
Whatever your goal is, make sure you check in at regular intervals. Like we mentioned earlier, it’s necessary to adjust as you go.
5. Create content
This is one of the most important and time-consuming tasks for using social media marketing to grow your small business. You need to understand what your audience wants. Then you have to spend time researching, writing, sharing, and promoting that content.
MarTech Advisor found that 56% of consumers would reward relevant content by buying from a brand. They also found 74% of consumers find themselves frustrated by irrelevant content. Any way you slice it, the content you write and share has a powerful impact on your business.
Infographic courtesy of MarTech Advisor
Companies like OutboundEngine can streamline the content creation process for you. By providing services like social advertising and automated posting, OutboundEngine helps take care of all these details. You’ll have more time to focus on capturing all your new leads or selling more products.
6. Share and engage
You can work with social media marketing software like OutboundEngine or you can take the DIY approach. If you’re posting your own content, you also need to take time to engage.
Most people think that replying to comments is all you have to do. The truth is, the focus for each social account should be to build a community. This community should allow people to engage with both your brand and each other.
How you go about doing that is your choice, but the first step is creating a space for them to find each other. Your audience might be car enthusiasts looking to trade upgrade tips with industry experts, or first-time homebuyers in need of mortgage advice.
Whoever they are, make sure you put in the time to get to know them as individuals. Find new ways you can help them, then create the content they’re looking for.
If you do all of this, over time you’ll build a consistent group of fans who love your work and be able to use social media marketing to grow your small business.
Final Thoughts: Social Media Marketing for Small Businesses
It can seem overwhelming at first, but by breaking down the process step by step, you will see how social media marketing can grow your small business. Finally, remember that the marketing experts at OutboundEngine are available for advice and marketing help when you need it.