Social media marketing strategies for small businesses
A trip on public transport is all it takes to see the benefits of social media marketing in full swing. You know the drill, people head down on devices, checking their newsfeeds, asking for #lazyweb help. With social media, the tool so many of us use to make decisions, you need to be where the customers are at. So let’s make a start with these, 6 social media marketing tips for small business that will help boost your sales.
Organic not paid media
In this blog, we’ll be talking about what’s termed ‘organic’ social media marketing. In other words, what you or your followers post on your pages rather than paid or ‘sponsored’ advertising – for example the ads in your Facebook newsfeed. And there’s a very good reason why.
1. Social media is about them
Social media is all about your customers and prospects, not you. So if you try to sell, sell, sell, you’ve lost them. You’ve got to give your followers things they find entertaining or useful. Things they care about, things they’ll share. The aim is to create buzz and interest so that they Like it, click on it, hit your website, tag their mates and so on.
Think about the brands you follow, what do you like about them? There’s plenty of great stuff out there you can ‘borrow’ and make your own. Just make sure it is relevant to your customers and prospects.
2. Know your business audience
Millennials, boomers, young families with kiddos – whoever they are, if they’re online, chances are they’re on social media. But where’s best for you?
Start by talking to your loyal customers. From those conversations alone you could get a clearer sense for whether a new LinkedIn business page should be your next focus area or those customer questions on Facebook.
Next you could do what the marketers call desk research (a.k.a. surfing the web). Look at your competitors and peers. Follow their pages. See what they do well. Read what their customers are talking about. How do they handle the responses? Consider how this compares to what your customers tell you. Is there a gap? An opportunity?
|Reviews and customer service||Facebook and Google My Business|
|Credential-seeking||LinkedIn and Facebook|
|Fast news and information||Twitter and Facebook|
|Inspiration and entertainment||Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube|
|Snap and giggle||Snapchat and TikTok|
3. Encourage the conversation
Gone are the days where businesses did all the talking. We’re in the dialogue era, where everyone gets a say. And social media is where they’ll head when people want to know more about you. So be sure to actively encourage customers to leave reviews on Google and your Facebook.
Work in hospitality? Maybe a customer recreated your signature dish at home and proudly tagged you in it on Instagram. Share it. Love it. That kind of engagement is pure gold in marketing terms.
You could even get your customers to tag you when using your products. Give them a hashtag to use – #burgersareus or #tapsgalore – find something relatable to your business.
Whatever you do, stay engaged and keep talking. The more interaction you offer, the greater your audiences, and the more chances to sell them things later. Even when the conversation goes south.
4. Don’t be afraid of bad press
Should a negative post crop up, don’t try to delete it, don’t ignore it and don’t be defensive. A sorry or an explanation can go a long way. Your customers and prospects will learn a lot about who you are as a business just by how you handle yourself in these situations. It’s a stellar marketing opportunity, right there.
The Harvard Business Review in fact found in a 2018 customer service and social media experiment that those who received a swift response to a post would be happy to shop with the brand later, including when the post was negative.
5. Find your content marketing niche
Right, next comes the content and making a plan for how frequently to post (start with once or twice a week and see how you’re going – it’s about usefulness, not quantity).
Once you’ve spoken with customers, play around what kind of content to share with them and even the form it might take. You could even make it topical – what’s happening in the world that week that you can relate back to what you do?
Depending on your budget:
Provide a quick how-to video shot on your phone. In the tent business? Show them how to set one up, post it on YouTube, then link to it from your Facebook.
Publish an article on your website about your family-friendly approach to staff hires. Then post about it on LinkedIn and link it back to your site.
Put your face in front of the camera and do a behind-the-scenes Facebook Live showing your audience some of the new things you’ve got in stock this week.
It doesn’t have to be perfect or polished professional. It’s about showing who you are as a business, as humans. Approachability pretty much always wins.
6. Don’t take yourself too seriously
Speaking of approachability, try having a little fun. You need to pick your moments of course – for example answering an upset customer with a flippant meme won’t make you any friends. But what could you do? You don’t have to be a laugh a minute, but just a giggle and they might remember your name, what you do, and come back for more.
Social media is great to test and learn
The beauty of social media marketing is that you can actively see whether people are interacting. There are loads of tools that can help you monitor your pages, including those offered by the platforms themselves.
If you’re just starting out, there’s no need to overcomplicate. Or pay for advertising. As we spoke about above, there’s marketing gold to be had just by having conversations with your customers.
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