Looking to boost your small business' digital presence? We've compiled our favorite social media marketing tips in the first part of our two-part guide.
Update: We just published Part 2 of this guide! Give it a read here.
Engage Customers Online for Bigger Profits & Consistent Income
A strong web presence and positive social media marketing can make a big impact on business profits for very little cost. How big an impact? Check these social marketing stats from HubSpot:
- Budgets of buyers who do use social media are typically 84% larger than those who don’t
- 90% of all marketers say their social media efforts have generated more exposure for their businesses
- 35% of people 65 and older report using social media, compared with just 2% in 2005
- 90% of young adults use social media, compared with 12% in 2005
Customers use and love social media sites, yet many small and medium businesses (SMBs) have no social marketing presence, or start posting and then stop. Why?
They’re busy. Owners say they just can’t keep up with their social media accounts. If they set up social profiles, they run out of content and fall behind on posts. Then they let it drop to the bottom of the to-do list.
What a mistake! Social media marketing is one of the most cost-effective ways to build and maintain a public presence. It leads customers to your door and builds brand awareness. Consistent business marketing helps SMBs avoid the dreaded feast-or-famine cycle that comes from stopping marketing efforts during peak periods. A strong, up-to-date social media presence is a critical part of a successful year-round marketing strategy.
Effective Social Media Marketing: It’s Easier than You Think
The effort it takes to create and maintain a basic yet effective social media presence is minimal, but it can lead to maximal results. Keep expectations reasonable, and don’t let your desire to create a perfect online presence keep you from establishing one that’s good enough to help and easy enough to update regularly.
Once you’ve set up a solid web and social media persona, you can do more effective marketing. You can even have local ads served directly to the people most interested in what you sell. The new Spatially Ads ad-targeting platform identifies people who have visited your business area, then serves them ads using Facebook or Google AdWord. Now you can leverage your web and social media marketing efforts to send focused ads to exactly the people who matter most to your business.
Why put off marketing your business and building your brand when you could take cheap, simple and effective steps right now? Let’s talk about how to promote your business inexpensively and create more effective online advertising using social media.
Customers Won’t Show Up if You Don’t Show Up in Search Results
Before you dive into social media marketing, make sure your company has a website for social posts to link to. According to a 2016 study, 36% of people say they’re less likely to patronize a small business that has no website. Why? Because consumers want to research companies and their products online before visiting them. A 2016 study by HubSpot reported that only 29% of people want to talk to a salesperson to learn more about a product; 62% prefer to consult a search engine.
The web is the first place millions go to for product and business info, frequently on their smartphones, and most often when they’re ready to make a purchase that day. You need a robust, reliable web presence that customers can find and use at any moment, from any location, to take advantage of micro-moments. Get your business in front of customers when they have their credit card in hand and want to find you or learn about your products or business right now.
Some businesses skip a website and go straight to marketing via social media: you want both. You can provide much the same information in both places, but a site devoted to your business will better boost your name in search results and web rankings. A website is often easier for potential customers to use than social media pages for quick access to things like:
- Product and company info
- Your location, maps and directions
- Hours of operation
- Photos of your business and products
- Video ads and tutorials
- Menus and lists of services
- Employee bios and your company’s about page
A Facebook page, even one with the same information, often takes longer to navigate to find information in a hurry.
The easier it is for people to find you, they more likely they are to convert to paying customers. It’s best to have a website that all your social media posts can link to. Then you can whet appetites for your offerings on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Tumblr or other favorite social sites, and lead people directly to your site for specifics. When you increase traffic to your site from incoming links, you boost your website in search rankings.
It’s Not About You, It’s About Your Customers
Before you post anything, envision the customer you want to attract. Consider your ideal customer’s demographics, things like age, gender, income, interests, home and work location, spending habits and shopping trends. Spatially can help by letting you see who and where people most likely to become your customers come from and travel to in your area. With Spatially, you can enter your business address and instantly discover a wealth of info about the demographics and spatial behavior of your target market. Search for free and gain access to insights about customers including where they live, how much they earn and spend, educational backgrounds and ages, how often and when they visit your business area, even what routes they use to get there. Using our tools, you can get to know your audience, discover new segments, and figure out how to advertise to them most effectively (such as with Spatially Ads).
Next, think about the problems of your customers. How can you help solve them? Create content with their happiness in mind. If you only promote your own offerings, you risk alienating people. Social sites shouldn’t really feel like they’re about you—they’re about your customers and their needs. Help customers imagine themselves using your products. Focus less on what you do, more on the benefits your customers get: a cleaner house, or fresher food, or more accurate bookkeeping. Marketing is about developing relationships and communicating. An outlook that’s less about the hard-sell and more about community building leads to more sharing, likes, and positive word of mouth.
Once you understand your market and identify which needs you fill, customize your social marketing messages, tone, style and content to the people you most want to attract.
What Should You Share on Social Media?
Shockingly, many small businesses don’t share basic information like hours or a phone number on Facebook. Make sure to include the same contact info you include on your website, including maps, directions, a link to your website and a description of your business.
Big brands bombard social sites with updates throughout the day, creating customized ads, videos, games and contests. You don’t have to compete with their constant posts or fancy content. Focus on drawing more traffic to your website, building a community of loyal followers and expanding business and brand awareness.
The more appealing your social media presence, the more impressions (views) and shares you’ll get. Visuals are vital in most social media outlets. Adding photos, infographics, illustrations or links to videos markedly improves chances of being seen, liked and shared. Photos needn’t be impressive to have impact, they just need to grab the eye. Images wouldn’t seem important for a text-heavy site like LinkedIn, but adding videos to a LinkedIn profile, or associating a graphic with your company’s LinkedIn blog posts, makes you much more likely to get clicks and views—they make internet marketing much more effective.
Once you’re in a publishing groove, gradually add more to your publication schedule. Below are a few examples of easy content bites that draw attention and boost likes and shares.
Specials & Featured Products
- Photos of items on sale
- Reminders of seasonal services: pre-holiday carpet cleaning; autumn furnace cleaning; tax preparation services well before April 15
- Tie-ins to popular cultural events: mention food, clothing, media, catering, music or other celebratory goods and services
- Photos and descriptions of new menu items and dining specials
- Funny photos or videos of people using your products in unexpected ways—humor done well gets you more likes and more shares
- Noteworthy stats on product performance, business success (number of years in business, awards received) or problems solved
- Fun or arresting statistics about your business or your field: how many ice cream cones you sell every June; how many underwater weddings you’ve photographed; how many cats live in your comic book store
- Infographics, photos or illustrations that draw attention to statistical content
Tutorials & Training Videos
- Videos that introduce or explain what your business does
- Training videos and tutorials that show how to use your products
- Quotes from satisfied customers accompanied by photos of them (especially photos of them in your business or using your products or services)
- Photos or videos of celebrities (or local influencers) who use your products
Content from Third-Party Sources
- Positive content about complementary businesses
- Links to positive reviews from other sites
- Reviews of third-party products and services you like—showing that you care about customer happiness, not just profits, improves customer engagement
Other Video Content
- Short videos (one minute or less) let you create dynamic, visually interesting content quickly and share the same video across multiple platforms— create a YouTube channel where you can post company videos, then link to them on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or other sites
Think of your social media space as an extension of your business. Let the tone match that of your company: friendly, welcoming and helpful. Start conversations, offer ideas, ask questions to invite comments on your page. Let followers know you’re on the lookout for ways to improve their lives. This can be as simple as posting a photo of a happy child using your product or a funny dog visiting your business. Make social sites fun places to hang out, like a virtual living room.
Photos of attractive displays or smiling employees or customers don’t have to be done by professionals—look around your business for shareable images. Get in the habit of taking photos of your business with your smartphone daily. If you take frequent photos, you’ll find at least one each week (maybe each day!) that’s appealing enough to share.
Read on with Part Two: How to focus on the right customers and the right message, choose the best platforms for your business and learn from competitors’ social networking strategies