The Small Business Guide to Social Media

At first glance, the business world of social media can seem like a confusing myriad of platforms, engagement, and analytics. Many business owners delay establishing their brand presence on social media because either the effort doesn’t appear to convert to an immediate visible return, or they feel they don’t have the time.

Does this sound like you? While social media may seem less important than everything else on your plate, it’s the perfect place to build brand awareness, connect with your customers on a personal level, establish authority in your field, improve search ranking, and improve sales as a result of valuable insight into your customer journey. You can also leverage it to generate traffic back to your website, blog, podcast, or to collect sign-ups for your email list.

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According to Sprout Social, the percentage of people who are likely to buy from brands they follow on social media is 57.5%. The percentage of people more likely to buy after a positive social experience is even higher, at 71%. 

It’s pretty clear that social media is vital to your business growth. Besides being a great place to connect with your customers on an authentic level, it’s also an incredibly low-cost tool. So, now that you’ve decided to take this critical step in the growth of your business, where do you start? We’ll simplify and guide you through the maze of social media so that you can start connecting with your customers and growing your brand.

1. KNOW YOUR CUSTOMERS

(and not just all customers, but your IDEAL customers). Who are they, what social networks are they using, what are their interests, and how do your customers interact with businesses and brands they like? Take the time to sit down and spell out your customer avatar. Then, always keep this avatar handy when planning posts.

2. GET TO KNOW YOUR COMPETITORS

Get inspired, listen, and learn from them. Find out what’s working and what isn’t working for businesses similar to yours.

3. CRYSTALIZE YOUR MESSAGE

Based on your ideal customer, what are their key problems you can solve and issues you can address?

4. START SMALL

Choose one or two platforms to join – wherever your customers are most active.

5. DO THE RESEARCH

Find out what days and times your followers are most active on the platforms you chose, so you know when you will want to post. You may need to experiment with posting on different days/times, and the optimal days and times may change depending on the season. So, be sure to come back to this step a few times a year to ensure your posts are reaching as many of your followers as possible.

6. CREATE A CONTENT CALENDAR FOR EACH PLATFORM

Your voice and cadence will be slightly different on each platform, but we recommend coordinating your channels so they work together. Plan each month out ahead of time so that you can be strategic, organized, and efficient. Remember to set goals! Marketer and search engine optimization (SEO) expert Neil Patel put it this way: “Your success in content marketing has everything to do with creating a strategy and delivering on your objectives.”

7. CONTENT IS KING

It’s time to get social and fill in your content calendar with interesting, QUALITY content. While it’s helpful to look at similar brands as yours for inspiration, don’t just imitate these brands. Make your brand stand out with the quality and uniqueness of content. Remember that it’s always better to have a smaller amount of quality content than a large amount of useless content. Use the ‘Social Media Rule of Thirds’. Your posts should be a balanced mix of:

1.  Sharing: Share relevant news, useful tips, ideas, and stories from leaders in your industry. There’s so much content on the internet these days that it can seem hopeless to sift through it all. Cut through the clutter and try an app like Feedly, Mention, or Google Alerts that will send you daily reports of sites, articles, and posts that contain the keywords you specify.

2.  Conversation: Strive to create content that instigates conversation and allows you to connect with your followers. We’ve found that the more personal and authentic your posts are, the better engagement they will get from your followers. Start a blog (if you haven’t already) and share your blog posts to establish your brand’s voice and authority in your industry. One blog post a month is a good starting point.

3.  Promotion: Use 1/3 of your posts to promote your business or services, convert readers, and generate profit. These are great posts to boost and use for paid advertising.

8. DEDICATE TIME EACH DAY

to manage your accounts, reply to people, and participate in conversations relevant to your industry. This step is crucial because it allows you to control your brand sentiment. Not every comment requires a reply, but we recommend at least liking comments on your page so that your customers know you care and are listening to them. Find out how customers view your business and be proactive about nipping any issues in the bud.

9. TRACK, MEASURE, AND LEARN

from your successes and mistakes through listening and analytics. Use this information to provide increasingly valuable content and also to influence your future business, product, and service decisions.

Now that you’ve got some guidelines and tips to get started, you need to put in the time. Remember that social media is a marathon, not a sprint. You may not see drastic growth or a ton of direct conversions to sales right off the bat, but getting social is one of the most important things you can do to set your business up for long-term growth.

What do you think? Do you have any questions or tips to share with us? How has social media impacted your business?

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