Click here to read Part One, which includes advice on engaging customers, effective social media marketing topics and proven ways to make posts attract likes and shares.
Which Social Platforms Should Your Small Business Use?
Once you identify your target customers, you can determine which social media platforms are most likely to attract them. Facebook is used by 68% of Americans (and 79% of online Americans). Three out of four users check Facebook daily, making it the country’s most popular social networking platform. It’s used by more female Internet users (83%) than males (75%), but gets strong engagement from both.
Facebook has wide appeal across markets and demographics and provides the closest thing to a business website experience and interface. Some users skip a business website altogether and go straight to Facebook; you’ll want a Facebook account and a website to link social posts to your business site. That boosts visibility in online searches, which funnels new customers to your door.
If you only use one platform and your key demographic is over 30, make it Facebook. Most people who use other social media sites use Facebook, too, including 93% of Twitter users, 95% of Instagram users and 92% of Pinterest users.
You’ll vastly increase the value of Facebook marketing if you also advertise your business there. With the Spatially Ads ad-targeting platform, you’ll get your ads in front of the Facebook users most likely to become customers. Spatially uses geolocation technology to target local shoppers most likely to visit your business. Then we serve your Facebook ads straight to that target market. It’s easy, it’s affordable and it works.
If you’re aiming for a very young (teen to age 29) demographic, Instagram, used by 32% of Americans, is the star. Six in ten young adults aged 18 to 30 use Instagram. Usage rates drop by nearly half for 30- to 49-year-olds (33%) and plummet further for those over 65 (only 8%). As with Facebook, Instagram is more popular among female (38%) than male (26%) online adults.
About a quarter of U.S. adults use Twitter, which skews towards younger adults. Only 10% of Internet users over 65 use Twitter, and it’s more common among people with college educations than without.
Over a quarter of online Americans use LinkedIn. It’s especially popular with people with college degrees and people with high incomes. Unlike other major social platforms, its usage rates are higher among 30- to 49-year-olds than among 18- to 29-year-olds. Half of online adults with college degrees in the U.S. have profiles on LinkedIn, but not all of them are highly engaged with the site.
This virtual pinboard site is used by three out of ten Americans. The vast majority are female (45% of online U.S. women) while only 17% of U.S. men use it. Pinterest is most popular with young adults, stays nearly as popular with adults from 30 to 49, drops a bit in popularity with those from 50 to 64 and then falls to 16% of online Americans those over 65. That’s still significantly more older Americans than are on Twitter or Instagram.
YouTube has more male than female viewers (55% to 45%) and reaches more 18- to 49-year-old viewers than any cable network in the U.S. It has a billion unique monthly users. Much of the video content on other social sites links to YouTube.
Want to provide customers with monthly news or product updates, but can’t find time for an email newsletter or blog? Consider monthly YouTube videos. Make them friendly and conversational, and demo products or share tips on how to use your services. You can skip fancy production values or music; a simple, personal approach is most relatable to potential customers.
Once you’ve established a social network site, update it regularly. Abandoned social media pages reflect more unfavorably on your business than no presence at all. Frequent updates aren’t as critical with YouTube, but fresh content is expected elsewhere.
Check Out the Competition and See What They Do Right (Or Wrong)
Make sure to visit the social media posts and websites of your competitors. Follow accounts of both local direct competitors and big brands that share your market. Even if you can’t compete with bigger companies’ campaigns, see what benefits and pain points they emphasize and how they position themselves. Next, differentiate your social media posts from theirs in meaningful ways: see which market segments need more attention and determine whether a tighter, more specific marketing focus could make you stand out from the competition.
Other Forms of Online Outreach
Many businesses publish blogs. Some share product info and press releases. The best blogs provide value, information and entertainment. They’re less about boosting a brand and more about leading friends to appealing content. Provide insights on your products, business activities or your industry, make readers smile or laugh, and link generously to other good sites, thought leaders and influencers your customers might benefit from.
Keep Track of What You’ve Shared and What’s Next
The best social media marketing strategies involve planning ahead and keeping track of what you’ve done. If you don’t note upcoming events or past successes (or failures!), you can’t gain insights from your marketing or fine-tune it.
Use a social media calendar template (you’ll find several for free online) to plan and manage your publication schedule. Keep a list of blog ideas, and note past topics, events, infographics, photos and videos. See which got more likes and led to responses. Then you’ll know what to continue or build on, and what to drop.
Take regular photos of your business, displays, your storefront or special business events so you have them ready when you need a quick image for your posts. Note upcoming sales, holidays, events and local activities on your content calendar, and refer to them in posts. Grounding posts in the real world humanizes your business and makes it clear that you’re a genuine local and an in-the-know insider, things that customers especially value when they shop at brick-and-mortar businesses.
Engagement and Interaction Keep Customers Coming Back
Posting often isn’t enough—content must interest readers and fulfill social needs. Clicks, likes, shares and comments boost your appearances in other news feeds. Humor, beauty, convenience and usefulness increase appeal. Linking directly to your site or other sites of interest from your social posts increases engagement. So does providing incentives like coupons, discounts or small gifts to social followers who mention your posts when they visit you.
Check social sites regularly, and respond briefly and promptly to questions, praise or concerns. Let your audience know you’re aware and involved. Turn bad customer experiences around by showing that you’re eager to make things right. Such responses have a big impact on the people you reach out to, and also on others who read your conversations.
Know Your Limits—Don’t Set Yourself Up for Failure
Don’t plan a more aggressive schedule than you can manage. Set reachable goals. Aim to post something new to each social platform you commit to on a regular schedule; daily is wonderful, but twice a week or weekly is better than nothing. Just make it consistent and keep track of posts on your content calendar. Reuse photos, videos or written content across platforms. Even if customers see it in several places, each point of contact makes an impression. Once you get into a manageable posting habit, gradually add more frequent posts to your schedule.
Don’t Be Afraid to Repost
Many small businesses issue a single tweet, Instagram image or Facebook post to announce a new blog post, event or product. Retweet and repost announcements (with new headlines, varied text or new photos multiple times over a week or month to drive more interactions. Test different versions of your message and see which ones prompt more engagement. And check each platform’s analytics to see which posts have the most impact.
Leverage Relationships with Other Businesses
Trade social media mentions of products and services with other businesses so your offerings are seen by larger populations and new market segments. Complementary business relationships go a long way toward expanding your customer base and visibility. Why not link to their site? Behind the scenes, ask them to do the same for you. Having more inbound links to your site from social media and other businesses is good for search engine optimization and lifts online search rankings, making you more visible and likely to get views and visits.
Focus Your Energy and Your Message
Big brands aim different ad campaigns at different segments. Smaller businesses often find that focusing marketing and ad campaigns more narrowly gets better results. Provide a single, clear idea of what you offer or what problems you solve throughout all your campaigns. Don’t try to be everything to everybody. Keep your target customer’s needs in mind, then aim content at filling that customer’s needs.
Sometimes it’s hard to know who your target customer is, especially for a new business. Spatially can help. Just enter your business address and we can uncover a wealth of demographic information about potential customers—and we do it for free. We’ll show you when and how often they visit your business area, where they live and where they work, their ages, where they spend time and money, how they get around when visiting your business neighborhood, and so much more. Spatially can help you figure out who they are, then show you where to market to them. We’ll even help you aim your ads at them using Facebook or GoogleAds with our Spatially Ads platform.
Give It Time
Don’t expect immediate results from your social network efforts. Consistent, ongoing efforts pay off better than big bursts followed by weeks of inactivity. Go for quality engagement, not large numbers of views. Speaking directly to the needs and interests of a small but engaged group leads to more consistent business growth than broadcasting to everyone but not inspiring anyone.
Social media can provide you with powerful tools to engage with customers, expand your market, boost your brand and grow your business. Social marketing is an inexpensive, effective and enjoyable path toward the business success you’ve always wanted.
Click here to view Part One of Social Media Marketing Tips for Small Business Success.