If you have a small business, you know that it’s important to stay relevant amongst your customers. In todays society, the easiest way to be noticed amongst a crowd of other similar businesses is to connect with your customers online using social media, this way you’re meeting your customers in a more organic way, it gives you a chance to allow the customers to get to know your brand, it’s values and important offers, discounts and product updates. But it’s not just about being present on social media, you also need to know which platform(s) work the best for your business!
The Importance of Social Media
Research shows that individuals spend more time on social media, 53.6% of the population is active on social media, so of course, with that many people on social media, you need to make sure you’re out there! People on social media use social media to stay in contact with friends, family, and find something relevant to them; like a whole community of like minded individuals for example, or perhaps even get help with a problem. Today, there are more than 2.2 billion social media users online, which is a huge community of potential customers!
54% of customers also use social platforms to research products or a business, this means that a customer is likely to try and find your online media platforms before visiting your store or making an online purchase.
The Social Media Landscape for Businesses
Small businesses often find themselves confused over which platforms they should use and which ones they should ignore! You could be missing out on opportunities to connect with potential new customers and create a valuable online community. So, let’s look at what are the most important platforms for small businesses today. This article is mainly going to concentrate on the major social media giants like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, however a lot of the social media platforms that are growing in popularity are worth a mention here too.
It’s important to understand that whilst one social media platform may work wonders for one business, it may not work at all for another, finding which social media platform helps get you the most connected to your customers is key when it comes to social media marketing.
Facebook still remains the most widely used social media platform, with over 68% of social media users confirming that they are on Facebook regularly, with over 2.3 billion active monthly users, it likely that a considerable portion of your potential customers will be on Facebook.
On Facebook, your business will be visible to your followers and potential customers with the shared content that you put out there for them to see. This is the perfect platform for using ads to attract customers or build a customer relationship. Use visual social media to tell a story, share company-specific deals and achievements, offer free giveaways and fun posts.
Many small and local businesses may choose to have a Facebook account rather than a website, this can work in the short term, but we always encourage business owners to consider having a website alongside a healthy and consistently active Facebook account, this promotes trust and authority with your company and will allow customers to see your business as reliable. Having a website will increase your trust with your customers & with new Facebook users, although it is not 100% essential.
Important things to look at when operating on Facebook : These following sections are details that local businesses can focus on whilst building their Facebook profile, you’ll want to optimise these and use these to direct your customers to your online store, or physical location.
- ‘About Us’ Section
- Use Keywords strategically
- Contact Information
- Use Your Call To Action Button
Tip: A Facebook Pixel is an attachment that you can install on your account, this is to help you grow your audience and also help you receive more business. The addition of these social signals can be beneficial for businesses.
Twitter’s greatest strength is its simplicity, it doesn’t require much customer engagement as it’s so easy to use and has a simple interface. In fact, according to Ecommerce Week, 90% of all business owners who have used Twitter said they would recommend it to their business.
This doesn’t mean it’s an easy platform to use, Twitter was the first social media site of its kind when it launched and, unlike Facebook or Instagram, there’s no way to post to multiple accounts. In fact, it’s actually quite hard to figure out the best hashtags to use on Twitter, there are so many and it’s easy to end up posting the same one as your competitors.
When it comes to twitter, the best posts to share tend to be informational and straight to the point, with the character-cap you won’t have the space to write lengthy paragraphs about your business or your recent activities like you may do on other social platforms. Twitter is best to share your recent blog updates along with a few short sentences and 1-5 well performing hashtags.
Hashtags on twitter are the life-blood. They’re almost as important as your actual tweet, unless you have an already existing large following on twitter, it’s likely that people and customers will find your through searching for the related hashtag. This is where competitor analysis comes in, find out what your competitors are using on twitter, and if it’s working for them.
Twitter seems to be the best social media platform for already established and well known brands, it’s a means of reaching thousands of users and interacting online with simple communication, it almost adds a personality to your business.
Unfortunately if you’re not that big of a recognised brand you may find it difficult to achieve results on twitter, however some of the best things a smaller business can do on twitter is set goals, whether that’s to increase direct sales through shares of discounts, offers and product updates, tracking trends through hashtags and attempting to infiltrate the trends by remaining relative and vocal, or becoming a customer support channel that interacts with your customers, reaching out and responding to any related comments.
Instagram is one of the most popular social media platforms, especially among millennials. Instagram is a visual-centric platform that focuses on videos and images, unlike the other social media platforms where you’re posting text-heavy posts.
Many people also use Instagram for the chance to be rewarded for the post, a common example is that brands will make posts featuring content for sale to encourage people to like the post and share it, it’s a great marketing strategy. For small business owners, Instagram is very easy to use because it’s an app, so you don’t have to install anything, it’s already loaded onto your phone, it’s easily accessible and free of charge.
Instagram, like twitter also has a hashtag functionality, however when it comes to Instagram, you’re likely to be found more when using hashtags than on twitter, this is due to Instagram’s ‘For You Feed’ which brings the individual user a collaboration of recent posts that Instagram recommends to it’s users based off of their previously likes and hashtag enquiries.
Using Instagram as a small business may seem overwhelming, although you don’t have to set ridiculous posting schedules everyday, you just need to understand what your target audience likes and how you can reach more people like this. Creating video content is an easy way to begin this process, it doesn’t need to be a lengthy voice-over video, it could be a simple video of your product, or a customer using your product.
With it’s latest features you can even makes sales directly from Instagram, so if your product ‘fits’ the Instagram mold, it’s likely that you’ll be able to grow your following and reach a community or users who have an interest in your business. Small businesses such as beauticians, hairstylists, home décor & fashion work incredibly well on Instagram as they have the unique ability to be incredibly photogenic and produce high quality images, or ‘Before & After’ customer images that work well.
If you don’t have a business that has the ability to become incredibly photogenic or product high quality images of your product or service, then do not fear, it doesn’t mean Instagram is off the table – it just means you’ll have to tweak your tactics, why not try posting promotional images, offering discounts & using hashtags to draw attention.
Using LinkedIn may seem a bit daunting at first, as LinkedIn is seemed the more ‘professional’ side of social media it’s important to understand how it can benefit your business. Using LinkedIn can gain a large following for your business and give you an opportunity to post about your recent achievements, you’ll likely encounter a large number of B2B communication and engagement through LinkedIn, if your company is one that typically deals with B2B interaction it would be beneficial to engage with your partners on LinkedIn and begin creating a dialogue.
According to LinkedIn specialists posts that include images receive 98% more engagement than those without, meaning sharing your recent achievements and business strategies are well received when customers or other businesses can physically see your latest work.
Unlike other social media, LinkedIn algorithm ranks posts based on the personal connections, interest relevance and engagement potential. You also have the ability to notify members you believe may be interested in a post through notifying your team of a specific post, or ‘pin’ to the top of your feed.
Where to Start?
After reading our recommendations you may be beginning to start your social media journey, and that’s great! But where to start… Hopefully this article has helped outline which of the social media platforms you’d like to focus your efforts towards first.
The first step is to conduct some research of the market, find out where your customers are, you can do this through researching competitors and researching what platforms appear to be the most lucrative for engagements, followings and sales.
Remember when setting up your profiles to include as many relative keywords throughout your content, your keywords are what relates to your business, for example, if you are a local locksmith, your keywords would include ‘locksmith near me/ new front door locks / emergency door locksmith’ these help social medias algorithms identify you for your business and your services and help customers find you easier.
It’s no secret that social media can be both a blessing and a curse for your business. While you should take advantage of every opportunity presented to you, you also need to remember that social media isn’t a free call to action and it’s not always the perfect fit for every business. With that in mind, it’s always important to weigh up your options, don’t pour time and effort to a social platform that your target audience and potential customers aren’t using.
Take the time to analyse the perfect social platform for your business, and implement your strategies, focus on one social platform at a time and slowly grow your reach through each platform.