One of the best features of social media is the way it levels the marketing playing field for businesses of all sizes. The low barriers to entry and high levels of active users make social media channels a significant opportunity for your small business to build awareness, sales, and loyalty with new customers.
Benefits of Social Media Marketing
Although it is still relatively new, even compared to other digital marketing channels, social media offers many benefits that your small business can't afford to ignore. Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest are valuable marketing tools when used correctly, as they make advantageous use of visuals and have an impressive built-in audience and a unique sharing potential.
Visual elements — including photos and video — are proven to boost engagement rates. Compelling visuals can generate up to 94% more views and increase willingness to read content by up to 80%. This is evidenced in the rise of visual-focused sites such as Instagram and Snapchat, social sites designed solely for image and video content.
With nearly 3.8 billion active users, social media channels have a 37% penetration rate worldwide —and this is increasing daily. With this high volume of users, it's much easier to draw a large audience to your social content than it is to bring them to your website directly.
Sites like Twitter and Instagram — along with new social channels that are launching all the time — make it simple to share. If your content or brand is going to "go viral," these social channels are the most likely places for it to happen.
Yet enjoying the full advantages of social media assets requires you to do more than put up random content on each social profile. To make the most of social channels for your small business, you need to carefully plan and execute the right strategy, using the right tools and processes. The following concepts will give you the clarity you need to effectively and efficiently build your business on social.
Know What Your Audience Wants to Share
Just as with the other, more traditional marketing platforms, a strategy for social starts with the relationship between your business and your audience. To be successful on a social media site, you have to know your audience and, specific to social media, what your audience wants to share with friends, family and the rest of the world.
There are several ways to find out the kind of content and content formats that resonate best with your particular audience groups. Google Analytics, Facebook Insights, and even the Twitter Followers Dashboard offer a wealth of insider information that can help you get a clearer picture of your audience's interests and habits.
You can also get information from your fans and followers directly by running a survey or asking for feedback via email. Even engaging with customers and leads on social channels can provide unique insights.
Know What the Competition is Doing
Another important element of designing an effective social media strategy is understanding what your competition is doing on the same channels. This competitor research offers several advantages, including offering a rare inside look at your rivals' marketing strategies. Content posted by your closest competitors can also provide inspiration for your own content strategy, as you can adapt and build on the content that proves effective for them.
The relatively open — and measured — nature of social media makes it one of the readiest platforms for observing your competition. Facebook, for example, has a specific area in Facebook Insights where you can track competitor progress on the channel — and you can create lists on Twitter to follow all competitor Tweets and replies in one place.
Several areas to pay attention to when it comes to your competitors include their messaging, hashtags, content and the influencers they target, as well as their promotions and profile setups. All of this detail can help to inform your social media strategy and make it even more successful.
Have S.M.A.R.T. Goals
Once you have some idea of the topics and types of content that can work for your brand, the next step — before you execute your strategy — is to determine your goals. To be truly useful for your small business, every goal that you choose to pursue is one that follows the S.M.A.R.T. acronym. S.M.A.R.T. goals are:
- Specific – Detailed enough that success will be readily apparent
- Measurable – Give the goal numbers ensure your results are tangible
- Achievable – Able to be accomplished with some stretching on the part of your business
- Results-Driven – Your goal should be focused on achievements rather than on activities
- Time-Bound – Firm deadlines are set for reaching the goal
Find Management Software
With all of the channels and activity that come along with a fully-fledged social media marketing strategy, the work required to maintain it can be overwhelming. Social media management software can give you a more effective method of keeping your social media activity organized and your responses to fans and customers prompt.
Some management tools, like TweetDeck, focus solely on one social media platform, while many others, including the popular HootSuite, Sprout Social, and Buffer, allow you to manage multiple social profiles from one website. Ian Anderson Gray of Seriously Social has an informative video on choosing the right management tool.
Most of these social media management options offer another time-saving advantage to their users: automation. Nearly all social media tools allow you to build up a queue of content to post to your social media sites so that you can have regular activity on your profiles around the clock - without being logged into them at all hours. A few social management and automation tools can also fill up your content queue with other relevant information, doing some of the curation work for you.
Measure and Analyze Performance
Measurement and analytics are the final piece of the puzzle for social media success — content marketing ROI really is everything. In order to continue to use social channels to build your small business, your audience and your sales, you need to have a clear picture of what works - and what doesn't. Regular measurement and analysis of your current content and tactics will help you continue to refine and improve your social media efficiency over time.
Focusing on the metrics behind your tactics can also help your team create content that resonates and content that converts.
Nearly all the major social media networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, have a built-in analytics component. For those that don't, most social media management platforms offer analytics services for reviewing your social media performance. There are also tools that focus specifically on social analytics, including Klear (Multi-Platform), Audiense (Twitter), and the Wolfram Alpha Facebook Analyzer. Even Google Analytics will allow to you track traffic and referrals to your brand's social media pages, providing you with many options to measure and analyze your social media success.
Get Social Media Services
Social media can be the perfect way for your small business to make its mark. Knowing your audience and competitors, having S.M.A.R.T. goals, using management and automation tools, and performing ongoing analysis are all essential. With unique opportunities to share content and engage with potential customers, the right strategies and tools on social media can be a significant advantage for your brand.
90odd helps companies reach their audience with the kind of content they're looking for in the first place. Want to reach your customers better? Find out how 90odd can help with social media services for your next campaign.