9 Tips to Enhance Social Media Marketing for Small Businesses
Most small businesses think that having a social media marketing strategy would be helpful for their business but how many know where to start? If you are a small business, you may know you probably need social media but not sure how to use it to build relationships and engage customers.
There are lots of free social media workshops but how helpful are they when it comes down to applying to your own small business. From my own experience, they are helpful in understanding social media in general, showing you how to open new social media accounts and the overall difference between the platforms (for example, facebook is predominantly female over 35 vs Instagram being a predominantly younger audience. All this information is useful as a foundation to build from.
But you may still be confused? This is why I set up my own free social media marketing workshops for small businesses. I am passionate about helping other small businesses like myself.
I had over 25 years of marketing and business development experience behind me but still needed a way to understand how Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Linkedin could help build my business. Fundamentally I understood the different customer profiles between the platforms so I could make an educated decision on what could work best for my business. And how this would include researching the market to define my target customers and competition which would provide a foundation of your marketing strategy.
What I needed was practical help on the ‘what’ to post to build my customer audience and ensure they were engaged.
Why Social Media Marketing is Important for Small Businesses
Remember the traditional high street way, way back, where business owners knew their customers by name so as soon as they walked into the shop there would be a warm greeting because customers were treated as friends. Retail owners really understood the need to know their customers and what they liked (to achieve lots of repeat purchases and to grow their businesses). This involved not only knowing who their customers were but what they liked too.
Social media marketing is a fantastic way to achieve something close to this traditional approach. If you build your customer base slowly and with a clear strategy you will have engaged customers who you know and as importantly know you. How fantastic is it that customers can speak directly to you via social media, to leave you comments and reviews! And you have the ability to respond directly to them. If you can harness that ability, you have a fantastic opportunity to grow your business using a clear social media strategy. What do I mean by clear? As strategy that is simply based on building an engaged customer audience who are happy to be repeat purchasers because they know and trust you through the relationships you have been able to build.
Why is this important? Think about who we trust today vs a few decades ago. We have lost trust in banks, politics etc. We are more likely to trust another person than the great institutions of the past.
So, as a small business you have the chance to build 1-1 relationships with your customers and you can grow that trust because you do what you say you will and when you say you will. New customers will be able to see this for themselves through the comments and reviews of other customers – people trust people.
Free Social Media Marketing Workshops for Small Businesses
When I developed my own marketing business, at the core is to help other small businesses with their marketing activity as I appreciate the lack of practical free help available. I am happy to share what I have learned in developing my own small business social media marketing strategy and as importantly the results I have seen. So not only am I able to provide practical help, I can also show how it has worked for me in a fun, informal workshop.
I am able to explain the strategy I developed (which is still relevant) and how I deployed it to build an engaged customer base. This is a key point as I would always recommend building on the basis of engagement vs a numbers game. What I mean is that if you purely focus on generating numbers, you may miss the opportunity to understand who your customers are and how to engage with them.
Social Media Stats
There are 49 million social media users in the UK which is two thirds of the population! Social media is a key part in their lives and on average people spend 1 hour, 50 minutes per day on social media. And 39 million mobile users – so it is important to ensure your social media and website is mobile friendly.
And remember each social media platform is different in terms of customer profile.
So with so many potential customers waiting for you, where do you start?
And I am afraid there is no magic formula. There is a reason why there are so many social media marketing agencies out there – no one person has the answer. If they did, we would all be reading their book and they would be most likely living on their own island!!
You may think you need to be on all platforms but this is not the case. It depends on your customer profile and which platforms they are most likely to be using.
Number 1 Tip – decide which social media platform(s) to focus on and become and expert
Choose one or two platforms and focus your energy and efforts into becoming an expert in those. You will choose on the basis of your customer profile and build your knowledge base on the best way to use those platforms to support growing your business.
Platforms Chosen – And the Next Step Is?
There is a lot of information in the public domain on the best time of day to post. This is great as a foundation to test against but be careful not to think this is the same for everyone. You will need to test at different times of day and different days of the week to really understand when is the best time to engage with your customers.
Number 2 Tip – test what time to post on your chosen social media platforms
You may find a major difference between posting in the morning vs early evening for example. It will be dependent on your customer base – and can be impacted by whether you are Business to Business or Business to Consumer. For example, Business to Business customers may be more responsive early in the morning (as they are checking their emails first thing in the morning – maybe before they even leave for work).
Tip 3 – use the 80/20 rule
In essence, post more content that is informative, interesting, research based, funny vs selling messages. Think about how you build relationships – it is not on the basis of, “hello, sell, sell, sell”. You would get to know your customer and understand their wants and need before selling them any product or service. Social media is the same. If your messages are constantly about ‘push’ selling, you may find customers switch off very quickly.
In summary, spend 80% of the time getting to know your customers and 20% of the time using relevant selling messages.
Creating Quality Content to Actively Engage Customers
A little cliché I know…but appropriate. Please make sure you make your photos the best they can be. Make them clear and bright as these pictures are representing your brand. Think about what you want to say about your small business through the images you use.
Tip 4 – make photos clear and bright
There are filters you can use on your mobile to brighten pictures as well as those when you come to post on the social media platform. Make the most of these free tools to enhance your photos. Also if you don’t consider yourself a great photographer, there are lots of Adult Education courses around to improve your photography skills. Plus Youtube videos that are really helpful. It is worth taking time to understand composition and what makes one photo image more appealing than another.
Tip 5 – be consistent
Be consistent in the number of times you post. If it is once a week, make sure it is once a week every week. Or if it is 4 times a week, make sure it is 4 times a week. I am sure you get the idea!!
And create a ‘look’ that is consistent and related to your brand. This could be as simple as ensuring your brand colours are represented in each photo or having a distinct look and feel. For example, only using pastel shades or black and white photos only. By developing this area of your brand, customers will be able to instantly recognise you.
Tip 6 – be engaging
You can engage with customers by simply asking questions. So for example, asking them to comment on your photo or give them your ideas on a subject or asking a research question. If you pose a question at the end of your post, customers are likely to respond. It is a simple strategy and an easy way to demonstrate to customers that you are interested in what they have to say and their views.
And as importantly, when a customers leave a comment, please respond!. If they have taken time to write on your social media platform they are signalling they are open to having a conversation. So, this offers a fantastic opportunity for you. And please reply within a reasonable time – a week later shows a lack of interest for example.
Tip 7 – understand who your customers are
Each social media platform offers free analytical tools which breaks down customer bases and behaviours. It is a rich source of information – and at no cost so it is worth investing your time. Most platforms call this ‘Insights’ and part of the top bar.
Revisit Your Strategy Regularly
Be clear on what you are attempting to do. For example, my advice is to slowly build your customer base to ensure you have the best level of engagement you can. It is worth reviewing this at the end of each month to see if it is still relevant and working.
Tip 8 – build followers slowly
Focus your energy on building a relationship with your customers as they start to follow you. Remember it is not a numbers game, it is about high levels of engagement from customers who are much more likely to be repeat purchasers for you.
Building your customer base slowly is a simple social media marketing strategy to deploy for small businesses. It helps to focus your attention. Think about your growing customer base as a rich source of information for you to improve and grow your sales. You can ask what they like and do not like, what they need, research new ideas on products or services etc. It is amazing what you can find out by asking a few simple questions. And customers will like being asked – as it shows their opinion counts.
Tip 9 – test, test and test again
I have purposely left this last tip until the final paragraph as it is singularly the most important. You need to test different images, messages, ideas etc to understand what resonates with customers. And you may be surprised by what they engage with the most. Testing should be core to your strategy in order to understand how to best engage with customers and grow your business sales.
And remember, you are most welcome to join one of my free social media marketing workshops for small businesses.
The only cost to you is your time and you are more than likely to learn a few things that you can take back into your business.
The social media marketing workshops for small businesses are popular so book early.