used with permission from SBA.gov
by Caron Beesley
Is your small business on social media? Is it working for you? Tried it but not convinced?
Social media is the top online activity in the U.S., according to Marketing TechBlog it also has a huge influence on consumer buying decisions. Forty-six percent of web users look towards social media when making a purchase, while 8 out of 10 SMBs report that they are using social media to drive growth.
Social media is clearly a proven channel for helping small business find and convert prospects – but it takes time and effort. Small businesses need to find ways to ways to connect, engage and drive actions.
If you’re looking for ideas to kick start or continue building your business using social media, here are six golden rules that can help.
Integrate your marketing channels
How do you get found on Twitter, Facebook or any social media platform? Well, it starts by prompting people with visual clues throughout your marketing channels, most notably your website. Ways to do this include:
- Adding “Follow” buttons on your static website banners (see the top of this page)
- Add social share buttons alongside content that you want to promote such as blogs or events (check out the ones on the top left of this blog)
- Embed a feed on your site (take a look at the one on the SBA.gov homepage)
- Don’t forget your emails, business cards, store signage and other channels
Plan your content
What should you post about? Well, what do your followers respond to best? This will vary greatly from business to business and takes time to gauge. But as a general rule people, follow brands on social media for the following top five reasons:
- To get promotions and discounts
- For the latest product information
- Customer service (feedback, complaints, queries)
- Entertaining content
- The ability to offer feedback
This doesn’t mean you should spend your time using social media for promotions, instead strive for balance. Try to apply an 80:20 rule – 80 percent of your posts should focus on driving interactions while 20 percent of your posts can incorporate direct offers.
One of the easiest ways to do this is to scope out the week in advance, for example:
- Mondays – Offer an exclusive promotion that’s only available to your social media followers and is redeemable with a unique code.
- Tuesdays – Give a behind-the-scenes look at your business or focus on your people
- Wednesdays – Create a series of helpful tips (link back to your blog to expand on the details)
- Thursdays – Focus on your customers. Whether it’s responding to questions or highlighting a positive review.
- Fridays – Feature industry experts or news. Retweet content, share articles or pin images that are relevant to your business.
Use photos and videos and other rich media
A visual is worth a thousand words. Look for ways to integrate images and rich media content into your social media posts. Using rich media like YouTube videos, memes, photos, and infographics can double engagement.
Engage your audience
If you are posting interesting content, engagement will follow naturally. However, there are a few things you can do to encourage these relationships – listen to fans, chime in when you think you can add something, respond to comments, open the doors to shared experiences/needs, offer exclusive content (offers, downloads, etc.), encourage fans to share photos and experiences and always communicate authentically. Think of social media as a form of conversation – it’s a two-way dialog. If you’re not prepared to listen to what is being said to you, about you, or with you, then you simply aren’t “being social.”
It takes time to figure out what works. For example, you might think about using polls and surveys to engage with followers, but if you are still growing your network, you might not get the right results – yet. So, keep trying new things until you find a sweet spot.
Treat social media as a customer service tool
Customer service is a very important aspect of social media. Be prepared to monitor and respond to questions and complaints, make a point of recording feedback and sharing it with whoever owns that aspect of your business.
Don’t forget to measure the impact of your social media efforts. Use third party apps or Facebook’s Insights tool to monitor click-through rates. Compare these across posts to see if there’s a trend as to the type of content that’s popular. Measure engagement by tracking how many likes and shares your posts get (measured by Facebook as “reach”). Use this data to inform and adjust your content strategy.