As a small business owner, you are always on the lookout for a chance to stand out to your audience. However, small businesses may find it difficult to get noticed by potential customers amongst huge corporations and their multi-million-dollar advertising campaigns. Fortunately, the rise of social media has provided small businesses with a lifeline.
With a projected user base of 2.77 billion by 2019, one of the most promising methods of marketing, which many small businesses are incorporating into their strategies, is social media. It is perfect for attracting and engaging users from multiple platforms and interests and converting them into customers.
Small Businesses Connect Differently
Utilising social media can be tremendously rewarding for small businesses as it provides them with the same tools, campaign features, and user base of prospects as bigger corporations.
How? The engagement levels of each post primarily gauge the effectiveness of a social media strategy. This means, no matter what the size of your company is, if you produce engaging and popular content it will be seen more than an underwhelming post from a larger corporation. This levels the playing field for small and large businesses alike promoting creativity rather than expenditure.
Unlike other marketing channels that are affected by various factors, such as the location of advertisement boards or the timings of a television commercial, social media marketing is affected only by how users are interacting with your page and posts. The main variables here are likes, shares, favourites, and comments.
More prominent brands cater to a larger target market, which usually means their marketing efforts are generalised to fit different audience preferences. Small businesses do not have that restriction since they cater to a more limited and confined demographic, allowing their social media strategy to be more refined, personal, and ultimately, more effective.
Why Do Customers Follow Businesses On Social Media?
Studies suggest that about 56 per cent of people follow brands on social media for discounts and offers. The most important figure in the same study, however, suggests that about 48 per cent of people follow brands on social media because they are interested in the product.
Just how a large office or being listed on the stock exchange provides legitimacy of your business and its aims, having a strong social media presence achieves the same for small businesses. This is because when people see other real-life people (and not ‘bots’) trusting a brand, it gives them the confidence to place their trust in a business. It is quite simple, you normally read reviews before purchasing a product yourself, so your customers will want to do the same.
Other equally important reasons for following a brand on social media include reading content published by the business and a desire to know more about the product or the brand. Therefore, it is crucial for small businesses to have a good social media presence in order to generate a legitimate image of themselves in the eyes of consumers. It is also a great place for small businesses to share information that big businesses might normally want to hide, such as ethical and environmental benefits of shopping with you.
If you are yet to explore the possibility of social media for your small business, you are already lagging behind the competition. In 2017, in the UK alone, spending on social media marketing stood at £2.39 billion. Advice and guides for starting social media are endless and some might be more relevant for you than others Here is why most businesses believe it is an increasingly important marketing channel:
Increased Brand Awareness
As mentioned earlier, nearly half of the world’s population is active on social media platforms. What better place to advertise your business than a space that is accessible to almost everybody?
Branded as ‘free,’ social media is not exactly so. However, compared to traditional means of marketing, such as television and newspaper advertisements, social media marketing is significantly cheaper and far more effective. Major platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram offer incredibly low rates for digitally advertising a page or specific post throughout the day. These cost-effective campaigns can last from a few days to a few weeks. Comparing the investment to the exposure social media provides, the rates are a bargain.
Highly Targeted Marketing
Conventional marketing targets all users within a vicinity, presenting them with your company’s campaign. From TV commercials and billboards to radio ads, there is only so much that a business can do through conventional methods. However, social media marketing is not restricted by the limits of physical exposure.
Frequent upgrades of the algorithms that run these platforms, and the rise of artificial intelligence, has provided marketers and small business owners with more control over how and to whom they present their marketing efforts. Using social media, small business owners can ascertain various factors such as the location, population, demographics, and age of their customer base and potential market. This allows them to create effective and highly targeted strategies, it is this personal edge that has made social media the fastest growing marketing platform.
How To Ace Social Media Marketing
Just because social media marketing is approachable by all businesses, large and small, it can also be a tricky business. However, if done right, it can send a brand’s value skyrocketing. There are certain factors that can help you achieve just that, let’s take a look:
Plan Your Strategy
It is imperative for small businesses to identify where their core audience lies. Although geographical proximity plays an important role, the effectiveness of any given social platform varies across industries and demographics.
Facebook offers creative freedom, LinkedIn offers professional integrity, while Twitter allows for news to spread like wildfire. Add Snapchat, Instagram, and Pinterest to the mix, and it can get a bit overwhelming.
When creating a social media strategy, it’s essential to determine how you want to present your brand and communicate with your audience, which platform your audience spends their time on and what type of content you’ll be publishing. This will help you pinpoint which platforms will be most effective For example, the content on Pinterest is mostly, if not solely, visual. So, unless your strategy consists of graphical information or data, marketing on Pinterest may not be a high priority. Always look out for imagery you can and cannot use, follow this image copyright guide if you are not sure where to begin.
Converse On Social Media
Social media was not made for businesses to thrive on, it was made as a stimulus to a conversation between users, and businesses have had to cover new ground to understand that users responses to their posts are as important as the initial content itself. Social media algorithms reward posts that have interaction. For example, if your business post on Facebook has no engagement, the platform’s algorithm will not show it to users.
Social media platforms attempt to keep people online by piquing their interests, and a low interaction post does not benefit this goal. Two-way conversations are key to generating customer engagement, where your business asks the right questions and provides the most appealing solutions to your targeted audience.
Stand Out From The Crowd
For users, social media presents a personal space for businesses and brands as well. You need to convey your persona before you pitch your business to the customers.
Present what makes you unique at what you do, share behind-the-scenes videos and images of your employees working on something ‘fun’, and most importantly, relate to your target audience. As opposed to conventional marketing, customers are more likely to convert more when they can relate to a business.
Is One Platform Better Than the Other?
Simply put, yes. All social media platforms have their own strengths. When choosing a platform for your business, you must decide which one suits your strategy the best. To understand this better, you need to analyse your strategy, identify your target audience, and work out the core purpose of your online presence.
For example, if your aim is to generate leads through social media, and your targeted customers are mostly younger people, optimising your Facebook or Instagram pages will help you achieve your majority goals. If on the other hand, your target customers are mostly the people with established careers and professionals, having an optimised LinkedIn profile would serve you better.
So, it all relies on what you are trying to achieve through your social media pages. Answering that question for yourself will help you answer other questions like who your targeted customers are and where your focus should be.
Paying for Followers/Likes?
While one can achieve wonders through the right social media strategy, there are still certain limits to non-paid campaigns. A lot also depends on the timeframe that you have set to achieve your goals. Whatever your reason may be, there may come a point when you might feel the need to advertise your brand online.
With their targeted advertising options, Facebook and Google AdWords present some of the best solutions in this regard. These targeted campaigns help you focus your resources on only the people who are most relevant to you.
Although a paid campaign of this nature brings no harm, you must never indulge in an activity where you directly pay random people to follow you. The following that you will score through such means will never be genuinely interested in your brand and would serve you no long-term purpose.
Social media is a powerful resource in helping small businesses connect with potential customers. To successfully achieve your goals, you must have a solid strategy in place. There is no magic formula that will guarantee you results. It is only through constant analysis and implementation that you will find the ideal plan to suit your needs the best.