Small businesses are tied to their communities, which is why social media is an invaluable tool to connect with people in those communities. People want to know what's going on in town, and they often keep an eye out for new things to do. Usually, that means they’re on the lookout for new and exciting businesses, from restaurants to retailers.
Small business owners often overlook social media because it’s another thing to do on top of everything else needed to run their business. However, social media is a fantastic opportunity to establish a stronger foothold in their community using platforms that millions of people use every day.
Social media marketing is one of the most beneficial tools for small businesses, but the key is knowing how to use it.
How Social Media Impacts Sales
One of the principal reasons business owners often neglect social media is because "likes" don't translate to sales. Social media isn’t inherently a promotional platform, but it easily can be. When it’s used to promote new products, sales, or events, it’s incredibly effective at driving sales. With so many people on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other platforms, there's no shortage of audiences who are likely interested in your offerings.
The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated social media use beyond its expected rates. Around 46% to 51% of adults in the U.S. used social media from March to May 2020. Many people have flocked to these platforms during the pandemic and are continuing to spend time on them. More users mean larger audiences, many of whom likely fall under your target segments.
Setting Goals for Your Social Media
If you want to succeed with social media, you need to incorporate it into the rest of your marketing plans. Social media works well to increase awareness for your brand. Tying it to your sales funnel or using it in your inbound marketing strategies helps you reach your customers and steadily draw them to your business.
As you set goals and work toward achieving them with your social media strategy, it's essential to take certain steps such as:
Decide Which Channels Will Work Best for You
Business owners new to social media marketing may be intrigued to target every platform, but this is inefficient and difficult to manage. It's essential to decide on the right platforms based on what your audience uses instead of extending your reach too far. Keep in mind that specific generations spend more time on certain platforms than others. For instance, 84% of 25-30 year-olds and 68% of 50-64 year-olds use Facebook today, while 75% of 18-24 year-olds use Instagram.
Follow a Consistent Posting Schedule
When engaging with audiences on social media, posting too often or too infrequently can hurt engagement. The optimal posting frequency for most businesses is once per day, regardless of your platform. Posting consistently but not too frequently keeps your business top-of-mind among audiences without flooding their feeds.
Determining when your audience is likely to be active on social media helps you appropriately time your posts each day. Accurately finding out when users are on social media isn’t an exact science and will likely require some experimentation. Try posting at different times of the day then see which gets the best response.
Use Social Media to Build Relationships with Customers
Actively engaging with people who respond to your posts can effectively convert them into leads and, eventually, customers. Respond to people who have questions or concerns about your offers to show you value your audience's input. You can also respond to relevant conversations taking place regarding your business or industry.
Target the Right Audience
A business's social media strategies should target a local audience that can boost foot traffic to stores. However, brand awareness isn't foot traffic. Having a huge following won’t necessarily increase your sales if you get attention from people outside your area.
Effectively targeting your local community ensures social media engagement leads to increased traffic to your stores. Learn as much about your audience through competitive analysis and the kinds of social media content they enjoy. Design your strategies around what your customers will respond to.
Use Video To Grab Your Audience’s Attention
Video is one of the most overlooked tools in the social media marketing toolbelt. It’s also one of the most useful, offering businesses a lot of opportunities disproportionate to the amount of effort it needs. That’s especially true with the increase of people spending time online. Watching a video lets consumers get a lot of information quickly and easily with less effort on their part. Two-thirds of consumers prefer video to learn about products and a majority of marketers invest in video, stating it brings a successful return on their efforts. Brands of all sizes now rely on social media video to increase their reach, accessibility, and engagement.
Posting short videos grabs people’s attention, as they’re drawn to the movement of a video. Social media lends itself well to “snackable” short videos for people to consume on-the-go. It’s the main format used by brands and influencers, as well as individuals. Facebook is the platform with the highest video engagement, where 65% of those who watch the first 3 seconds of a video go on to watch at least 10 seconds. Forty-five percent will watch for 30 seconds. Video is an amazing tool for businesses to showcase their expertise and demonstrate their culture and values. It also gives consumers what they want while helping your business, since 73% of consumers have made purchasing decisions based on social media.
Live video options allow businesses to entertain, inform, and educate while forging deeper connections with customers and increasing sales through social media. Instagram alone has millions of people tuning into live video streams every day. It is another trend businesses should take advantage of.
Make It Personal!
Keep in mind that social media is casual. Your posts will show up alongside pets, babies, cooking tutorials, and other personal content. Make your posts appeal to people's personal lives in similar ways, showing off your personality and reducing rigidity through your posts. You don’t want to seem too rigid on that platform, otherwise, your customers will find it off-putting.
Don't Be Afraid to Automate Your Social Media
Social media can be a time sink to use day-in and day-out, which is especially overwhelming for small business owners with limited time and resources. Thankfully, there are ways to automate scheduling and posting to make sure your messages get out in front of audiences without constantly checking each channel.
Automated analytics tools help give you better insight into social media activity. Engagement management or analytics software helps you view impressions, likes, and other metrics. You can then determine how those metrics contribute to your goals, whether you want to boost awareness or increase sales. With in-depth insight into your strategies' performance, you can use that data to optimize existing strategies and inform future ones.
Don’t Miss Out On Social Media
Social media marketing remains and will remain one of the most effective ways for businesses to connect with audiences and boost sales while keeping your advertising budget in check. As you approach your small business social media strategy, you can learn more about what your industry is doing through your customers. Taking the time to interact with customers on social media can give you a better idea of who they are and what they need, as you tailor your strategies accordingly.