Social Media for Small Business Growth
Social media can be a huge asset to a small business customer engagement and growth.
Today, because of social media you can publish to the world and according to emarketer.com, the social network ad spending will surpass $23 billion, which is a 33% increase over 2014. There are a variety of different platforms available for small businesses to use including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Flickr, Snapchat and Vine. Not all platforms are beneficial for all businesses and different platforms have different audiences and unique attributes. The first step is to develop a strategic plan and a social media calendar. It can become a huge waste of time if you don't have a marketing strategy with an end goal to measure success.
Some general tips for the best social media practices include:
- engaging with consumers
- creating a business specific hashtag
- responding to consumers
- keeping it short
- keeping up-to-date with different products and services
- keeping all information relevant by connecting it back to your business
- sharing relevent and useful information that your audience will find helpful and repost
A common mistake of businesses using social media is over use and irrelevent posts. Posting too much information will drive followers away in annoyance and posting useless information to your target audience won't work well either. Listen more and talk less; engage with consumers by answering questions, providing tips if needed and responding quickly to any complaints about your product or service. Someone on Facebook has a created spoof page called Share Your Most Irrelevant Posts as an example of why irrelevent posts are not good.
Which platform works for each business category? That depends on who your audience is and what you are selling. For example, a clothing store should most likely use Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. The Facebook page can be very similar to a website, but it allows for more client interactions. Post an article of clothing or “The Outfit of the Day” and ask for client feedback. Twitter can be used to share upcoming deals or sales that the store will be having, any new clothing that was brought into the store and special offers for followers who retweet. The best way to engage followers with your brand is to offer special offers and create competition. Instagram & Pinterest are great ways to share pictures of the product or service and Instagram can also be a great tool for more competitions. Generate a simple graphic promoting a special offer and urge followers to repost the image to his or her personal account, say why he or she loves the brand and use the specific hashtag for the competition. From those who reposted pick a winner and have some sort of reward. Be sure to NOT use a low-quality image in any case.
Pinterest is one of the most overlooked social media platforms, but can be used for success. A small B2C business such as a pet shop should have a Pinterest page. Some of the boards could be a cute animal board, a pet tips board, the best toys for your animals’ board and a health and safety for your pet board. Followers will repin pictures from the pet stores board and that will direct them to the business and generate customers. Even small B2B businesses can post their products on Pinterest as an easy way to keep their products current and in an image gallery in social media that not only showcases their products but helps improves rankings on the search engines.
The most commonly asked question involving social media is how will this benefit my business? There are many answers to that question and one is awareness. Using social media gets your business into the world and seen by many but choose the right platform and be strategic. Another benefit of social media usage is sales. The next best thing in social media is social selling. Social selling will generate immediate sales when consumers can buy a product directly from a media platform. The most commonly used social selling platforms are Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Social selling works by posting an image of a product with a price. Once a follower claims the item in the comment it will be marked as sold. For the follower to claim the product they can use an app such as Venmo to send money to the business and in turn the business will ship the product to the follower. Kabbage blog has some good advice on Social Selling with 5 Helpful Tips to Use Social Selling Platforms.
Additionally, in any business practice it is best to measure success and there are tools available to do so.
Some of the tools available for free include:
Facebook has its own personal analytics program to measure shares, likes, views and more.
Although free, If you choose to implement any of these social media platforms in your small business online marketing plan you shoud take the time to educate yourself on how to create your strategic plan and online marketing strategy. Or hire a professional to help you get started or assist you on an ongoing basis. If you don't know what you are doing, it can be a big waste of time. Years ago marketers could only dream of a tool like this that could reach billions instantly with their message, but therein lies the problem. Work smart, be creative, have a plan and a end goal. Happy socializing!