Does my Business Need Social Media?
Social media marketing (SMM) is crucial to the success of small business. Competing with large corporate organisations for online presence and search engine rankings is no small feat for entrepreneurs. A small business lacks the capital (money, labour, time) for online marketing initiatives that larger businesses take for granted. Established corporations have a 20+ year online networking head start with established brand awareness and online affiliates. Reviews, natural endorsements, forum discussions, Facebook likes, and authority links push these businesses to the top of search engines.
SMM is another bullet in your overall online strategy that if done correctly, can help you compete online with even the biggest brands. There are plenty of examples of individuals or small businesses that have a larger following on twitter and higher user engagement on Facebook than some of the largest corporate conglomerates.
So how do we get there
The first step is finding a social media platforms that suit your business. Generally for a small business, two or three is often the magic number. Facebook can be used to engage and interact with your target audience. It is the best form of market research. Twitter is good platform for providing your market with immediate news on a new line of sunglasses for example, or the relocation of your store. LinkedIn is a helpful networking tool and a good source of industry related news. If you are selling products that photograph well and have a bit of an artsy flare to them, Pinterest can be an easy platform to increase your product and brand awareness. Which social platforms you use and how you use them, will depend upon your unique business attributes.
Where is my audience
So how do we gain a social following and get our target market to engage with us online? This is not easy, but with the right approach, it can be achieved. The five main points below should give you a good starting point.
Do not over post. All too often, small businesses over post in desperation, saturating their followers with useless information just to keep the social platform alive. We recommend keeping your posts for all platforms down to 1 per day at the most. If you would rather submit one post a week, this is fine too, the idea is t be consistent. If your only posting once a week, make sure you make a post every week on the same day if possible.
Keep your content original and interesting. A good rule of thumb is if your post is something that you yourself would really get a kick out of or find interesting then post it, otherwise get your finger off that post button.
Don’t talk to your audience, talk with them. A social platform is supposed to be just that, social. It’s about finding out what your customers think, and engaging with them on a social level. Do not tell them what to think. Use language that opens up conversation such as “We are thinking of adding red to our hat range, would anyone wear a red hat?”.
Be responsive. The single most important lesson with social media is that you are expected to be available to respond immediately. If someone engages with your business on social media, respond right away and keep them engaged for as long as you can. If a negative comment is made by your audience, never attack the person. You are within your rights to defend your business, but always in a pleasant professional manner without accusations.
Humanize your business. Social media is the perfect medium to show your target audience that you are human and develop a sense of trust. Post pictures of after work drinks. Post a video of a funny office prank (as long it is your own office and an original video by your business). Post photos of community engagement and award ceremonies. The trick is to get your potential customers to relate to your business.