For small businesses today, having a strong presence on social media is no longer a question of “should,” but a question of “how.” It’s clear your small business should have a social media presence, but how do you do it successfully?
A social media presence has become a pivotal piece in the online presence puzzle and it simply can’t be ignored. An online presence, regardless of your industry, is truly a must in today’s competitive business world. Now a business with a poor social media presence is commonly viewed as less competent and not focused, while a strong social media presence projects an image of a business “having it together.”
The question is, “How Does A Small Business Create a Strong Social Media Presence?”
Small businesses traditionally have limited budgets, limited staff and limited time. How does a small business owner with numerous hats fit social media presence into their long list of priorities? The answer? First, decide that social media is an important focus for your business, then take the time to craft a plan designed for your specific business, and be open to modifications along the way.
Here are a few of the Top Social Media Tips for Small Businesses:
Choose 1-2 Channels & Be Amazing!
I see this all the time. A small business decides to get on social media, they open up 4 +accounts, they post on their accounts for a week (a month if they’re luck), then…radio silence. They quickly realize regular posts on 4+ accounts are not sustainable so they throw in the towel on the whole thing.And they are right, unless they hire outside support or have a full-time staff dedicated to the project, it’s simply not sustainable for most small businesses to have a strong presence on multiple social media channels. While I do advocate for obtaining outside support, I also understand this isn’t always an option for some businesses, especially newer businesses. But the solution isn’t to give up on social media for your small business. The solution is to choose 1 (maybe 2) channel(s) and be amazing at it!(Tips on how to be amazing are in steps 2-11 below.)
Once you get a handle on that 1 channel for at least a few months, you can add 1 or 2 more by following the same tips below. But only add on a channel if you’re able to do it well.
How do you to choose your social media channel?
Simply put, go where your audience is. If you need help identifying your ideal audience, check out this worksheet (link to Marketing Foundation Worksheet).
The top social media channels for most small businesses are: Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. Sometimes Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest, or Youtube are good options as well. I won’t dive deep into the pros and cons of each of these platforms, but take some time to uncover where the majority of your ideal audience is consuming content online, then go there and go all in!
Fully Update Your Account
This should be obvious, but many businesses don’t take advantage of the important real estate in their account profiles and miss out on opportunities. An optimized social media profile not only presents your business’s services and basic contact info for those that view it, but it’s a way to get discovered by new customers. Here’s a bit more about how to optimize your social media accounts.
Each social media channel has slightly different fields and opportunities to optimize them. I’ll briefly address the 2 big ones.
In Facebook, make sure you update your: full “About “section (there are several fields here), hours, contact info, location, services, and activate the contact button so people can click to call or email you (or another call to action option).
In Instagram, first make sure your account is a business account, not a person account! (Here’s more on business vs personal Instagram accounts).Under this account type, you’re able to link to your Facebook business page, add contact information, AND, get valuable insights about your posts and audience (more in tip #11) In addition, be sure to optimize your profile description for the top keywords in which you want to be discovered.
- Identify Your Ideal AudienceIdentifying your audience is a very important foundational piece for your business’s marketing on any channel, not just social media. But if your business is just starting out, transitioning into new markets, or you don’t have a firm grasp on your ideal audience (aka your avatar), this is an important step for you.You can begin by identifying the basic demographics for your ideal audience, like: age, gender, income, education level, location, marital status, etc. Then dig deeper into interests, pain points and values. Does your audience eat organic food, enjoy outdoor recreation or drive sports cars? What types of entertainment do you they consume or cultural values do they have?(Read this for more info on How to Determine Your Small Business’s Ideal Audience)
Take some time to define your ideal audience as best as possible. You can even take it a step further to give that avatar a name and then keep that person in mind as you craft content. You can ask yourself, will Sarah like this post about organic vegetables or will Jack find this Goonies GIF funny?
Practice the 80/20 Rule for Quality Content
The operative word in this tip is “quality.” All of your content must be quality. Social media and digital marketing trends are shifting even further into demanding quality content. It’s noisy and your content MUST be high quality to stand out.
But in addition to maintaining a high standard for content quality, also be mindful of the types of quality content you produce. Most (80% or more) of your quality content should be for your audience. Meaning it should be informative, entertaining or inspiring while only 20% is promotional. This principle is clearly demonstrated in Gary Vaynerchuck’s book, Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook. The jabs are the 80% of audience-focused, valuable content and the right hook is the ask; the call to action (i.e. email sign up, purchase, call, etc.) Vaynerchuk explains that the content you produce should be made for your customer or your audience, not for you. “Be generous, Be informative. Be funny. Be inspiring. Be all the characteristics we enjoy in other human beings.” – Gary Vaynerchuk
Each social media platform has features that support a more creative content experience for their users. Facebook and Instagram (owned by Facebook) have been in a feature-creation war with Snapchat for over a year now. (This Forbes article from just last week discusses this competition.) Each side keeps adding more features to their platforms related to live video, daily disappearing stories, and photos (to over-simplify it). The result is a plethora of creative options for a business to produce original content that highlights their brand, attracts their audience and builds a following.
Explore, have fun with it and use the different options associated with the channel.
Here are a few features you could try within Facebook and Instagram that will inspire creativity:
Facebook: Facebook Live, GIF’s, videos, groups
Instagram: Stories, Boomerang, text overlay and videosHere are a few content ideas to get the creative juices flowing: highlight new products, film behind the scenes, offer flash sales, highlight employees, show store attractions, post coming soon teasers, events, create photo contests, offer tips related to your industry, create or find funny GIFs and memes.
This tip complements tip #5, but it deserves it’s own section because images have become important on all social media channels and the standard of quality is increasing. Except for Snapchat where the user expects an ephemeral experience, many statistics show that posts with an eye-catching image perform better on social media. Facebook’s algorithm gives more weight to image posts, Instagram & Pinterest are all about images, and even Twitter & LinkedIn posts perform far better with images.A quick tip for creating attractive images easily is to use Canva. With this low-cost tool (there is a free version too), you can create branded images, text overlays, and original work that are perfectly sized for each channel (among many other things).
Businesses get in trouble on social media when they just talk at people and don’t listen or engage with their audience. You will create a better audience when the conversation goes both ways. Plus, many platforms, particularly Facebook and Instagram, heavily weigh towards user experience. Meaning, posts and pages with more audience engagement perform better and get a further reach on their platforms.
To encourage more engagement with your audience, you can:
- Respond to comments on your posts
- Like comments on your posts
- Quickly answer questions on your posts (quickly is key here)
- Encourage users to share their experiences (For example, offer a contest for people to share their photos with your products or brand)
- Share user generated content with your audience & mention the source
A good rule of thumb for consistency when you’re first starting out and you want to be amazing and seen, is to post daily, at least once.
There are loads of strategies and tips on how often and what time to post on each channel and while exploring these strategies does make sense, ultimately; it all boils down to data (covered in tip 11). But you can’t create good data, build traction on your channel or create trust with your audience unless you are…you guessed it, consistent.
Post on your 1 channel on a consistent basis for at least a few months before you decide to change your approach. Sometimes an audience gets alienated by too many posts or don’t look at your posts until midnight or only see your posts if you post them 3 times a day. The answers to your future posting strategy are in the data and consistency is the first step to creating data AND the piece to keep with you even when you do modify the when and how often you post. As long as you’re consistent about it, your audience will follow you.
Overly reviewed content gets stale fast. Be authentic, be funny, be true to the ethos & culture of your business.
If your team has fun at work by dressing up or being silly share that. If there is an important cultural topic that matters to your audience and aligns with your business, talk about it. The humor and topics that organically come up in your business with your customers or clients should show up on your social media accounts as well.
It often takes awhile to fully find your business’s voice, but be mindful of this search while you post. As the adage goes, if you try to talk everyone, you talk to no one. This applies with authenticity as well. Don’t try to be overly appealing to everyone, as it will often come off as stale. Sometimes it works better to be a little edgy or silly. You will find that people engage more with your “real” posts than the overly thought-out and stale posts. Post that dancing video.
A few ways to get started with this concept is to share the inception story of your business (why you got started and how) or past challenges/failures and how you’ve overcome them or what you learned from them.
Be relatable. Be real. Be authentic!
Get Organized – Use a Scheduling Tool
As noted in the intro, time is a top barrier for most small businesses’ social media success. An excellent way to combat this barrier is to get organized and use tools that save you time.
The first step I recommend to get organized is to create a simple posting calendar. This will help you map out the types of content you plan to post and an overview of when you plan to post it.
Next, use a scheduling tool to post for you. If you take the time to pre-schedule a chunk of posts for the week every Monday, for example, it will save you a ton of time the rest of the week.There are many tools out there, both paid and free that perform the basic task of posting on social media, plus a TON of other cool features that you may or may not need. But to simplify this, two tools that work well are Hootsuite or Buffer. Both are low-cost tools with free intro options that get the scheduling done for you.BUT, if you’re on Facebook, use the scheduling option built into the platform instead of an outside tool. Facebook’s algorithm favors native posts, but still use it to pre-schedule your posts days and weeks in advance.
After you’ve followed tips 1-10 and you’re getting pretty damn amazing at your social media channel(s), the only way to know how you’re actually doing is to measure your results.Facebook and Instagram have built in analytics that offer data about your impressions, engagement, and reach for each post. Facebook Insights will even give you data about your posting times, post types, and basic demographics about your audience.
If website traffic is a piece of your social media presence goal (as it should be for most businesses), you should also install Google Analytics to your website at the same time you start getting active on social media. This free tool offers a ton of data, but the highlights for this purpose are: traffic sources, bounce rate, session duration and number of page views. It’s also beneficial to set up Goals for certain activity, such as a contact form submission, newsletter or multiple pages views.
There are many tips and strategies to having success on social media. As I said, the first step is to decide that social media is an important focus for your business, then take the time to craft a plan designed for your specific business, and be open to modifications along the way. I hope you find these social media tips helpful for your small business.Please share with me what’s worked for you. Comment below or contact me here