Nearly one in every two people on the planet has a social media account – so as a small business owner, that’s where you need to be. Effective social media marketing should be an integral component of your marketing plan, but before deciding how much of your budget to put towards your small business’s social media, be sure to do your research writes Heather Cook, General Manager APAC, Hootsuite.
Determine what your marketing objectives are, and how social can help you get there. For instance, if a significant percentage of your sales come from eCommerce, it may make sense for you to allocate more budget to social advertising, yet if instead, you are looking to use social to spread awareness and engage your existing customers, it may not be as costly as you think. Here are a few cost-effective ways to optimize your social presence:
Community management goes beyond liking and responding to messages and comments – it is one of the best ways to gain a better understanding of how your audience thinks, feels and behaves. A good community management plan will help maintain your business’s reputation, engage and excite your audience, and keep a grasp on the overall customer sentiment of your business and its offerings. A great place to start is setting aside 15 minutes in the morning, around lunch and in the afternoon to respond to individual comments, queries and engage one-to-one with your followers.
It’s really all about initiating a two-way conversation. Think about the kind of relationship you would like to have with your customers and what kind of conversations you would like to have. You can encourage engagement by adding discussion points to your weekly or monthly social content and determine the topic ahead of time, which could be as simple as asking what everyone is doing on the weekend. You could engage polls, as people like to provide their opinion – for a cafe or bar you might ask their opinion on their favorite beverage. For a sporting goods store it might be comparing sports, or athletes – have some fun with it. While you’re at it you will be obtaining some consumer insights while also getting your content in front of more eyes.
Make sure what makes your business unique stands out
Create content that represents your business – and how you want your customers to see you. Make your posts visually appealing, use video, tell your story in the way only you can and don’t be afraid to try new things and experiment a little. You don’t need to hire professional photographers and videographers – make it real and authentic, but appealing. Try to make use of User Generated Content when you can (UGC). Your customers can be your best advocates, run contests to encourage people to share photos of themselves and their experiences with your business. There are applications that Hootsuite has integrated within the dashboard to help navigate how to successfully use this type of content.
A social media content calendar and posting schedule is a lifesaver for busy business owners. How many times have you found yourself wondering what to post and sharing something without context or strategic thought behind it?
Not only does last-minute posting risk typos and tone problems, it also runs the risk of not being as relevant and engaging to your audience as it’s often not part of the wider message you wish to convey. Start by dedicating a specific time in your workday to create, tweak, proofread, and schedule posts, ensuring they are all synergistic.
In addition to making your workday less stressful when it comes time to share a social post, using a social media scheduler can help you plan an effective content mix and assist in identifying opportunities to reinforce social messaging.
Making social media part of your daily routine
Succeeding with social media means being committed to the long game. Be consistent in your posting cadence and try to carve out time every day to share content and actively engage in conversations with your followers. How many posts to put up and at what time is something that depends on the platform and your audience, so take the time to figure this out by posting at different intervals, then checking the platform analytics to see what times produce the most engagement. You can also use this comprehensive article that breaks down the best time to post based on industry as a guide.