Like it or not, social media use is continuing to grow, and with it so does our number of marketing opportunities. As ever, we can look to America to see where trends are growing and the latest research figures from Pew Research show that nearly two-thirds of adults in the U.S. are now using social media sites every day. That is a phenomenal rise from just 7% back in 2005.
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Getting to grips with a wide range of social media tools can really help small business owners target new and prospective customers as well as continue to maintain engagement with their existing customer base. To prevent becoming overwhelmed at the prospect of keeping on top of the new tools and trends, small business owners can narrow down their focus to some essential key elements:
1. Define your Audience
When starting out to build your social media presence, a business needs to be purposeful with their intentions. It is never a good idea to think that by setting up social media accounts for your company that you will get an automatic following.
You need to be intentional with your content to attract those people that will have an interest in your business and what you have to talk about.
By defining your business objectives before you set up your social media campaigns, you will be able to tailor your campaigns to achieve a set directive. Whether that is to drive traffic to your website to increase sales, raise awareness of your company brand, or to build up a community of interested followers that may want to attend your events throughout the year, you have to have an end purpose to your actions.
2. Build Authority with professional videos
Once you start to build a decent following on your social media platforms, you can cement your knowledge and authenticity by providing your followers with informative videos.
Microsoft Corp. conducted a study that revealed the average social media audience had an eight-second attention span. A small business needs to capture the attention of it’s followers quickly, and there is no better way to do this than by providing them with engaging videos.
One trick that can be used is to create entertaining visual video’s that can pass on a message without the use of sound. Most people who browse Facebook for example will do this with the sound muted. This is especially true for people who visit social media sites while at work where their computers may have had their speakers disabled.
Video can add a layer of authenticity to your company that conveys a deeper level of knowledge and professionalism that reassures followers that your company is the genuine article.
3. Go to where your customers are
Depending on your customer demographic, you will have a pretty good idea which social media platform they prefer to hang out on. Facebook is generally the most popular platform, but it may not be for your chosen audience. If you have a very visual business, such as fashion or shoe retail, then Pinterest may be where your best customers are to be found. It may be a combination of Facebook and Pinterest, so it would be worth your time focusing on these two sites above a less popular site for your demographic, such as Twitter.
However, if you can spare the time, it may be worth reaching out on Instragram and other sites to find customers that you have not met yet. Unless you are really strapped for time, there is value in trying out other platforms for small business such as YouTube, LinkedIn, Yelp and Snapchat.
4. Test out low cost advertising
Small business owners may consider exploring paid advertising on social media sites. Generally low cost, paid advertising across social media sites can be quite cost-effective and is a useful way of reaching out to targeted demographics.
If it is working for others, then it can also work for you too! Facebook research has revealed that there are currently over 50 million small businesses with a page on Facebook, and 3 million of those are using paid advertising to get their businesses noticed. This is a 50% increase on advertisers compared to this time last year.
Many industry experts recommend that a small business should start out making the most of the free features offered on social media sites, and once a large enough following has been established, you may believe you have a good indication about which site to use for advertising. It will always be a question of quality over quantity here. You may have a larger Facebook following, but you may have more customer engagement and conversation through Twitter. If you get more quality conversations through one social media platform, then that would be the one to advertise with.
The advantage that small businesses have now is that we can analyse our results through the metrics and reporting systems available on social media. This is something that used to be the domain of professional marketers. We just have to learn how to become our own marketing managers!