Social Media - A Guide for Small Businesses
In today’s uncertain world, it has never been more important for your business to stand out online. This is particularly true for small businesses — you’re competing with much larger, established brands who tend to dominate the market. Small businesses need to find more personal ways to connect with their customers.
You also need to grow awareness of your brand and build up social proof. If someone’s friends are talking about a particular brand or product, that person is much more likely to be interested in it, too.
Social media is ideal for achieving these things. It enables you to reach your target audiences and post content that they will find engaging. But if you’re new to social media, it can seem a bit daunting.
We've put together this guide for small businesses about using social media to help you stand out from the crowd online and achieve your business goals.
Why use social media?
Whatever demographic your products or services are targeting, you can find them on social media. Approximately 3.6 billion people worldwide currently have at least one social media account, and this number is expected to rise to over 4 billion in the next five years. This means businesses not currently using social media to market their brands are losing out on huge audiences, which could potentially turn into all-important leads and sales.
Small businesses need to have a strong social media presence, so you can reach the people you need and tailor your marketing to suit that audience. And you don’t even need a large budget — social media is free to use, and if you know the correct techniques, you can achieve great results without breaking the bank.
Here are some essential tips to get you started:
What types of content should you post on the main social platforms?
Businesses need to understand that every social media platform is different — they appeal to different age groups and people with different interests. You can’t simply post the same content on all your social media pages and expect it to achieve great results.
Instead, you need to tailor your content to suit the most popular social media platforms, enabling you to appeal to as many users as possible.
Facebook is the most popular of all the social media platforms, with over 2.7 billion monthly active users worldwide. The platform is popular with people of all ages — 71 per cent of all UK adults use Facebook.
If you're targeting consumers aged between 18 and 54, you can find approximately 90 per cent of them on this platform.
So, what sort of content appeals to Facebook users? They like content from brands — Facebook users are happy to hear about your new products, services, and events, as long as they feel included. Keep your posts casual and entertaining, as they will appear in the newsfeed alongside posts from users’ friends and family.
It is also worth noting that video content is extremely popular on Facebook, and is shared roughly 12 times more than still images or text.
Instagram is the second most popular social media platform worldwide, growing hugely in recent years — it now has over one billion monthly active users. It is particularly popular with the 18-34 age group, so it is the ideal place to reach millennial or Gen Z consumers.
Instagram is an extremely visual platform. You should be sharing attractive photos and short videos (up to one minute long) that showcase your products and reflect your brand. You can also create a more exclusive feel by using Instagram Stories, which are only visible to your audience for 24 hours. This can be a great way of creating buzz around a new product or an event.
With over 320 million monthly active users, Twitter is still a social media force to be reckoned with. It’s a highly conversational platform based on short posts — you have only 280 characters to get your message across.
However, you can augment your tweets with images, videos, and online contests to stand out from the crowd.
LinkedIn is a business networking platform and is the most popular social media platform for B2B marketers.
As this is a platform for professionals, LinkedIn users expect your content to be helpful and business-related. You should share information and insights from your industry, setting yourself up as an expert in your field.
How often should you post on social media?
There are several theories about how often you should post, but in truth, it depends on the platform you’re using:
Facebook: Facebook users don’t want to be swamped with content from brands. Aim for once a day — enough to remind your customers you’re there, but not enough to dominate their feeds.
Instagram: Instagram users value consistency. You can post as often as you need to, but do stick to a schedule.
Twitter: With almost 6,000 tweets being sent every day, you should be posting multiple times a day on Twitter to stand out from the crowd.
LinkedIn: Quality is more important than quantity on LinkedIn. Aim to post once a week to offer value to your followers.
Why you need to use CTAs
The real value of social media marketing is to drive more traffic to your website, where you can make those all-important conversions and sales. To do this, you need to encourage people to click away from social media and onto your website.
This is where Calls to Action (CTAs) come in.Your social media posts should always contain a link which users can click, enabling them to take the required action (“Contact us for a free quote,” “Click now to buy,” or whatever action you want your users to take).
Once users are on your website, you then have a much greater chance of making a sale.
The importance of expert advice
Social media marketing can be daunting for small businesses, especially if you’re new to it and don’t feel you know what you’re doing. But don’t despair — help is out there! If you want to ensure a smooth and successful experience with social media, it is highly recommended that you enlist the services of an experienced digital marketing agency.
They can help you post the right content on the right platforms at the right times, ensuring you reach the audiences your business needs. Alternatively, if you really want to go it alone, you can get training from a professional on how to use social media correctly.
If you would like more information and advice about social media marketing, please contact us — we are always happy to help.