Running a small business in today’s world means increasing your visibility online. Stepping up your social media game is one of the best ways to show off what you’ve got. But social media isn’t just a one (click) and done type of deal. To be successful you have to put some work in! Use our 10 top social media tips to plan, use, and expand your social media channels effectively.
1. Get Smart (Goals)
Before you begin a social media campaign, it’s important to set goals. Decide what you want to achieve and work out the steps you need to take to do it. S.M.A.R.T. goals are the easiest way to set and evaluate effective goals. Just make sure your goals are Smart, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. S.M.A.R.T. goals help you categorize your thoughts into set boxes, making them easier to develop and achieve. Setting conscious goals is a great way to determine the success of your social media venture.
2. Know Your Audience
The best place to start when you’re looking to improve your social media presence is your audience. Getting to know your audience on a deeper level will help you determine what kind of posts will have the most success. Reaching the right audience will help to grow not only your engagement (that is, likes, comments, and shares), but also your reach.
Audiences are kind of like snowflakes; not one set is the same. When you know your audience, you are able to target ads and posts more easily. Well targeted content can increase your audience as well as your sales. The days of posting just to be present are long gone. Just because you have content to share, doesn’t mean it’s the right kind of content. Analyze you audience’s likes and dislikes, their interests and their age range. Figure out what it is they like about your product and emphasize it. This is how you set yourself apart.
3. Complete Your Profile and Be Active
When it comes to social media, you can’t just set up a profile and let it fly. You have to stay active to find success. This includes keeping your account information accurately updated, posting relatively frequently, and engaging with your audience. Customers are increasingly turning to social media to find information like your business hours or street address before visiting. Not including this information in your profile, or worse, not updating the information when it changes can cause you to lose customers at your physical store.
4. Be Human and Engage
Especially when it comes to interacting online, don’t forget that your audience is human. They want to interact with people, not with brands or products.
Think about how you react when meeting someone with little personality. After your initial conversation, it’s unlikely you will try to engage that person again. When things (or people) are boring, we tend to toss them aside. It’s not any different when it comes to your company and its products. Customers want to know that there’s a person behind what they are buying. When you make your product personable, you show that you care. You’re not just one of “those corporations.”
It’s written into the DNA of small businesses to be a friendly face, not just a box on a shelf. Think before responding to comments or messages. Stay away from generic responses. There’s nothing less personal (and more annoying to customers) than a bot that gives the same response to every message. Instead, insert yourself into your brand. You will have much more positive interactions with your customers on social media.
When you do receive comments or feedback on your page, make sure you respond. Engaging with your customers helps them feel valued by your company. Your engagement lets customers know they have a voice, and that you care about what they have to say. People are drawn to profiles and companies that give customers immediate responses. Taking the time to respond to questions and comments personally shows that you are willing to go the extra mile.
5. Clean Up Spam
We have all encountered spam bots online. They wreak havoc on anything and everything on social media, assuring anyone who will read that they will win a free phone or get a rock-bottom deal on sunglasses so long as they ACT NOW!! Your business profiles will not be immune to these sorts of posts, especially as your audience grows. If your page begins to receive spam comments or posts, make sure you clean them up. Spam makes your page look unprofessional, cluttered, and mismanaged.
6. Advertise Wisely
You have a small business, and we understand that money can sometimes be tight. Running ads on social media doesn’t have to be expensive, but it is a great way to directly target your online audience. If your target audience is small to begin with, putting as little as $20 behind a post can be a great starting point. If it performs well, you can always put more money behind it to increase your reach. You can run ads on pretty much any social media platform, so don’t limit yourself to the traditional channels if that isn’t where your audience spends its time. Advertising on social media can be largely trial and error at first, but a good ad reaching the right people can do a great deal of good for your business. So just keep trying until you figure out what ads work the best for you.
7. Create Great (Branded) Content
Creating content that is relevant to your audience and your brand, but still shareable is one of the trickiest things to get right. Take notes from larger companies and read about the newest viral posts. Publishing timely content is key to shareability, but artistically beautiful posts or catchy copy can go a long way, too. A lot of companies fall into the trap of posting just to post. For example, reposting an article from another company and calling it a day. That can be okay once in a while, but to make your brand stand out create your own content!
Producing your own content takes extra time and effort. But, when you have highly shareable posts they practically do your marketing for you! Social media users are always looking for the newest, coolest thing to share with their friends. Why shouldn’t that be your content?
8. Cater Your Content To Each Platform
Not all social media platforms are created equal. Each one has a different audience, a different purpose, and different features that make them unique. What does well on Facebook, may not do well on Instagram or Pinterest, and vice versa. To get the most out of each social media platform, you have to understand their capabilities. Does your product lend itself better to image-based platforms, or do you prefer to share text posts or links? Is your target audience active on the platform? These are two of the more important questions to consider if you only have the time to invest in a single platform. Don’t spend time setting up a profile that will be useless for growing your business just because it is useful for others.
9. Publicize Your Profiles
Social media profiles are a great way to brag about your company. So take advantage! Add links to your profiles to your email signature, your website, your business cards. Any promotional item, physical or digital, is another opportunity to share your online presence. If no one knows about your profile, they can’t engage with you even if they would like to. And on social media, a bigger audience is always better.
10. Use Hashtags (If It Makes Sense)
Hashtags are a great way to share your posts with a larger audience. Hashtags, on supported platforms like Twitter and Instagram, add your posts to an existing category of similar posts. Some platforms even allow users to follow hashtags independently, like they would a friend or business. Staying on top of trending tags can lead to opportunities for great exposure, but only if done well.
Use hashtags only if they are relevant, and don’t overload your posts with them. There is a fine line on social media between acceptable and overbearing. You want your hashtags to be useful to your customer, not overwhelming.
Social media is an amazing tool. It allows us to speak personally with people all over the world. While your target audience is more likely to include the stay-at-home-mom down the street than the trendy teen across the globe, the opportunity is always there to gain extra exposure and reach a wider audience. It takes just a short amount of time each day to make sure your profiles are clean and active, but it is a great way to make your business accessible to all your customers, local and around the world.