If you are trying to market and grow your small business, social media is a great tool if used properly. According to research, 65% of adults now use some type of social media with Facebook being the most widely used. These sites provide an opportunity for you to market your business at a low-cost option. There are many social media sites to use so you should review each one to determine what is best for your small business. Create a social media strategy to implement along with your business goals.
Here are some tips to consider when determining your social media strategy:
- Create a Plan – Many businesses create a weekly or monthly social media calendar and use a content scheduler such as Hootsuite to push out content throughout the day and night. Compare costs of different content schedulers to help post messages across all platforms. Some scheduling systems can cost money or you can use a free scheduler like RecurPost so if you are a small business and just getting started, you should at least create a calendar and try to stick with your plan. You can post pictures, motivational topics about business, promotions, quotes, free drawings, links to your online content, etc. Research different ideas to see what fits your brand.
- Be Consistent – Make sure you are consistent on all your pages with your messages and logos. Sometimes businesses have the same name so if a customer is searching for you on social media, they will know they found the right one from your logo. You don’t need to post the same information across all platforms you use, but ensure you do not post mixed messages.
- Know the Best Times to Post – Try to post at the best times across each social media site. 80% of the population is in the Eastern and Central time zones. If you are in another time zone and would like to reach a broader audience, you should keep that in mind in case you want to post during those times.
- Offer Exceptional Customer Service – Once people start commenting on your posts, you should acknowledge their feedback and reply in a timely manner. Followers appreciate responses, especially from businesses. Many major brands now offer customer service support on their social media platforms. If someone comments negatively, be careful how you respond. You should thank them for their comment and try to take the conversation offline to prevent additional responses online. Remember everything you post online is for public viewing. Develop a written plan of how to respond to negative feedback for anyone who is responsible for managing your social media accounts.
- Use Social Media Buttons – You should include social media buttons on your website so they can click to those sites. If you are a service business consider asking for reviews on your website or on a review site like Yelp or Angie’s List.
- Post Good Content – Post original content relevant to your brand and make sure you do not post spam, too many advertisements, or continually post the same messages. If you post too many ads on your sites, you will risk losing followers. Social media sites should be used to engage with your potential customers or for recruitment. No one wants to see a constant advertisement come up on their social media feed.
- Show the Fun Side – Show off your business personality on whatever social media site you choose. You can show off employee and fun events with pictures which helps with recruiting. You can give a snapshot of the fun work environment or the type of work you do. Social media is a great tool to show off a little personality and you will get more followers the more you are liked and respected. Make sure you have the right mix of business and personality on your social media sites.
Here are some suggested tips for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.
- Create a Business Page. You will start by creating a Facebook page for your business. Initially, your goal is to get at least 25 likes to create a vanity or unique URL. Initially, it will create a random URL for your business full of numbers until you get the minimum of 25 likes. Once you have those, it will give you unique Facebook URL (www.facebook.com/yourbusiness) and will show in search engines so your customers can easily find you. If you are a local business where people would check-in, make sure you mark that as your business type.
- Create or Join a Facebook Group. One of the newest ways to reach people through Facebook is by either creating a group or joining a group of similar interests. It is important to market your business and create conversations discussing your specialties and the interests of the group. For example, a construction business could start a group where members can discuss projects or ask for advice on home repairs. Another example would be where a cleaning service could offer tips on the latest cleaning techniques, trends, and tools. Invite others to join the group and ask them to post information and questions as well. If you create a group, it is suggested to use relevant descriptors or keywords rather than your business name.
Instagram is a very popular photo sharing social media site where more than 800 million users have accounts. In the last several years, Instagram has become a popular tool for businesses as well.
- Create an Instagram Business Page. Over 25 million businesses now have an Instagram business page. The business page offers information to potential customers about your business, as well as insights to you about your postings such as which postings perform best. Not only can you show pictures, quotes, and etc. You could take pictures of fun company events or happenings around the office. Instagram is a great tool to use for recruiting. Also, take pictures of services you have performed for customers. For example, if you are a landscaper, you could show some landscaped gardens you have created or designed. Once you post a photo on Instagram, you can choose to share it on your Facebook and Twitter page as well.
- Use Hashtags on Every Post. It is important to use hashtags on every post and you should try to keep the number under ten although you can use as many as you want. But if you have too many, it can be distracting in your post. Hashtags are important since Instagram allows followers to search for different hashtags as well as save hashtag searches. Hashtags should be relevant to your business and directed toward your target audience or they will be considered spam from users.
Twitter is a very popular site to use to grow your brand and become a global voice of authority. There are more than 500 million tweets sent each day.
- Create a Business Profile. Start your business page and put relevant keywords and hashtags in your profile. You should use the same logo and cover photo you used to match your other social media sites and website. Use Twitter to search for conversations about your industry and engage in conversations about your topics of specialty. You should aim to provide relevant content to build followers, rather than trying to make a sale.
- Use Hashtags and Keywords. It is important to use hashtags to reach a broader audience. Users can click on hashtags to see what others are saying about that topic. Twitter also has trending topics with hashtags and keywords that you can watch and post on that topic as well. Hashtags and keywords should be relevant to your message and brand. You should also keep any links you post short and consider using a link shortener like bitly. It is easy to use and helps keeps your message under the 280 character limit.
Pinterest has become widely popular in the last several years. Many people use Pinterest for inspiring information and to gain new ideas on DIY projects. As it continues to increase in popularity, 93% of pinners use Pinterest now to plan purchases and 67% have discovered a new brand or product from businesses on Pinterest. A pin is an image or video that people pin to a board, like a bulletin board. Once they click on that pin, it takes them to the original source of content. There are now 100 billion pins and pinners can keep their boards organized with their chosen topics of interest.
- Create a Business Account. If you plan to market your business you should plan to use a business page instead of a personal one. The Pinterest business account also provides a library of resources to you so that you can learn different marketing and content strategies. If you post relevant content to your website, you can put a Pinterest save button on your website so that customers can save a pin to their board for easy reference.
- Use Visually Appealing Pins. You should create images and use great descriptors that are appealing to capture attention. Avoid being too wordy on your descriptions and Pinterest suggests that your descriptors hint there is more to see on your website. They also suggest that you use words like “shop”, “make”, “find”, or “buy” to encourage pinners to click your links and pin your images.
Whatever social media accounts you decide upon, ensure they fit your style and brand. Once you develop your plan and start your accounts, they are easy to maintain. Research to find out what fits your brand and ensure you show personality across those platforms. Be consistent and become a voice of authority in your specialty. Small businesses thrive with social media and it can be a free or low-cost way to market and grow your brand.
Author: Kimberley Kay Travis
Kim Travis, co-owner of Travis and Adams Consulting Group, has over 20 years’ experience in human resources and leadership roles.
She has specialized knowledge in employment law, employee relations, recruiting, management consulting, leadership development, manufacturing safety programs, and writing business articles and blogs.