If you’re a small business, the world of social media marketing may sound like a challenging and intimidating venture, but it’s both well worth the time and practically required in 2019. But where do you start if you’re completely new to this form of marketing? Sure, you can start off by creating a website, and then sharing links but you’re going to need to do more to keep your audience interested. Don’t worry, we’re going to run you through some of the basics to get you where you need to go.
What is social media marketing?
Social media marketing is the act of using social media platforms to promote your brand or product, build your audience, generate leads, and increase sales and website traffic.
Together with content marketing, social media marketing is an essential part of a marketing methodology called inbound marketing. At the heart of this idea is that the creation of valuable, interesting content for your audience draws customers toward your brand.
While it’s easy to assume that social media marketing consists of only creating content for the platforms to reach your audience, it’s much more than that. Successful social media marketing campaigns involve actively and consistently engaging with the target audience. Don’t worry, we’ll show you exactly how it’s done.
Ready to dive in? Here are the 10 great tips for social media marketing for small businesses.
Identify your goals
Get inspired by your industry
Check out your competition
Create “business” social media accounts
Find and get to know your audience
Create compelling content
Create a social calendar to stay organized
Post on a regular basis
Engage and respond to your followers
Monitor your performance
1. Identify your goals
Before you can jump into social media marketing, it’s important to do your research to determine what you’re actually looking to achieve with it. If you’re just trying to make your presence on social media known, great. If you’re looking specifically to increase website traffic, fine. Defining your goals and the strategy to achieve them will make things easier for you going forward.
Once you’ve established you primary goals for your social media marketing strategy, you’ll always have a guideline to hole your efforts against. There will certainly be steps that you’ll have to take regardless of your goal, having a plan in place will help you stay aligned with your ultimate goals and will help you see what should be the correct next steps in achieving it.
2. Get inspired by your industry
To get an idea of the footprint of your industry on social networks, it’s important to cast a wide net when doing market research. For instance, do a popular hashtags search on Instagram and Twitter with industry-specific keywords and to see what you can come up with. This allows you to take a look at the variety of posts that are published and identify the big players and potential influencers, both of which can be very helpful assets.
For Facebook, try joining a group discussing in your industry and view the discussions and posts that take place. This will give you an idea of what kind of content is being shared most often by your audience. If you can identify a trend or an industry topic that’s important to your audience, your social posts can cater towards it to get attention.
Are you seeing a subject about your industry that isn’t being discussed often enough? Consider it a goldmine and an opportunity to establish yourself as the expert and start that conversation yourself. Grab attention by adding industry-specific hashtags so your audience and influencers will take notice, and hopefully, join in on the conversation. Sometimes getting inspired by your industry is finding relevant discussions about what’s not being talked about.
3. Check out your competition
If you’re new to social media for your business, one of your most valuable resources is going to be your competition, who may be more established in the space than yourself. Use them as a way to brainstorm strategies you’d like to take on for your own brand, see what types of posts they use on different networks and also take note on the number of posts published per day.
This type of research is not an excuse to rip off your competition and clone their entire social media marketing strategy — it’s to get an idea of how others within your industry are making social networking platforms work for them.
4. Create “business” social media accounts
If you haven’t done so, you should create or convert your existing social media accounts into business accounts. Whether you open a Facebook business account or start a YouTube channel for your business, you’ll be able to get more features for, you guessed it, businesses!
Some nice additions to having business social media accounts is that many offer built-in analytics for your social posts (more on that later), as well as the ability to use paid promotion for your posts. This is a great option to help build brand awareness.
Specific business/brand social media accounts are available for most popular platforms, including:
5. Find and get to know your audience
Through your own research, you’ll more than likely have found your audience and how they interact with social networks. You may have found that your specific target audience seems to be more active on Instagram, but are also present on Twitter and Facebook. Whatever your findings show, be sure that your social media strategy backs it up. If your audience is most active on Instagram, you stand to benefit most from putting more effort into it versus a social network they’re not as active on. All that said, it’s important to have some sort of presence on all major social networks.
A part of getting to know your audience is getting to know who they aren’t as well. For instance, if you’re targeting Generation Z, a social media post that features a fax machine (even as a joke) likely won’t resonate with them, as they’ve likely never ever had to work with one or even seen one.
Need more data to find your audience? You’re in luck! There are several studies that can help you get a better idea of where your audience spends their time from their demographics.
6. Create compelling content
Now it’s time to put your industry knowledge together with the research you’ve conducted to create your content. Whether it’s an engaging meme that only your audience can enjoy or simply a link to your latest blog article sharing new developments in your business sector, your posts need to be both interesting and relevant to them.
You also don’t have to do all the work! If there’s industry-related news, don’t hesitate to share it through your social channels, even if you’re not the direct source. This will tell your audience that you’re a reliable source of information for this topic.
Creating fantastic social media content is a sure-fire way to get the attention of your audience, but it’s not easy! Take your time crafting your posts and don’t forget that you can share your posts across social networks! Need some inspiration? Check out oddball holidays or other “special days” as inspiration for your social posts. Something like “take your dog to work day” is easy enough to craft a post around and can be enjoyable for your audience.
There’s a lot you need to know when it comes to creating content. From the exact social media image sizes for each social media network to the free online social media tools available to you, there’s a lot to learn. And because this process can be a bit overwhelming, Wix has a dedicated section for social posts within your site’s dashboard to make it easier for you.
Need more inspiration for your social posts? You could have some fun with one of the many Meme Generators out there, like Imgur. These are easy to use and can be fun to make, even if they’re not the best out there. Some of the best memes are terrible!
Another way to ensure that you’re keeping your content fresh and relevant is keeping up with social media best practices. Luckily for you, we have the ultimate social media marketing guide along with these social media marketing tips to show you what’s what.
7. Create a social calendar to stay organized
One doesn’t become a social media marketing genius overnight, or even in a few months. It’s going to take time for you to see what works and what doesn’t, and since you’ll be posting a lot of content, you want to be organized about it. This is where a social media calendar will come in handy.
A social media calendar will allow you to see what posts are published on what network at what time. It’s best to try to schedule your content out at least a month at a time, but this isn’t going to be reasonable in every instance. Just keep in mind, it’s better to have more content than you need than not enough.
For some, a simple Excel sheet will do the trick to keep track of your social media posts going out. If you’re looking for a little more, there are some great tools available to help you with scheduling and more:
Hootsuite: Hootsuite is a popular social media management tool that covers schedule your posts and so much more. It’s also a great platform for social media monitoring and provides insightful analytics to see how your posts are performing. That’s hardly where Hootsuite stops in the feature department, and you can even get started with a 30-day free trial.
Buffer: Another popular social media management tool that allows you to schedule, monitor, and get helpful analytics from your social posts. You can try out one of its 7-day free trials to see if it’s right for you.
8. Post regularly
Just because you’re getting the hang of things doesn’t mean you should publish 11 Facebook posts a day. In fact, overposting will cause people to unfollow you, as you’ll come off as spammy. Instead, go for quality over quantity with your posts.
Here’s how much you should be posting on social networks:
9. Engage and respond to your followers
You think that once you’ve created, scheduled, and published your content that you’re done? Think again! You also want to make sure that you’re engaging with your audience in any way you can. Engaging with your audience is helpful for a number of ways.
It can help establish trust between you and your audience
It invites additional engagement from others
It shows that you’re active and respond on social media
It can be a fantastic source of data, feature requests, and additional feedback — all for free!
Social media is also a fantastic place to provide customer support. Whether they’re reaching out to you directly or not or not, they’re talking about you, and it might not always be for the best. You can use social listening to reach your customers, rectify issues, surprise them with a social media-only coupon, and more!
10. Monitor your performance
Social media marketing isn’t something you become an expert at overnight. It can be a trial and error process, but by monitoring the success of your posts across social media, you’ll begin to see what type of content works best for your brand and what doesn’t. Luckily, it’s not hard to see look at the performance of your posts with the built-in analytics that many social networks provide for business accounts.
By viewing the analytics of your social media posts, you’ll begin to see what type of content resonates with your audience. Using the stats from your previous posts, you can begin to reshape your social media strategy with more content that has, by the numbers, proved to be more successful for you. It’s adaptability like this that will help you continually evolve with your social media marketing efforts.