10 Steps to Start Utilizing Social Media Marketing for Your Small Business
Written by John Kennedy on August 14, 2020
There’s no question about it; social media has taken over the internet, and the world, within the 23-year span it has existed. With an estimated 3.6 billion social media users (which equates to around 45% of the world’s population), it’s safe to say this is no passing trend.
More importantly for you as a business owner, it’s evident that people are using social media to connect with the businesses they love. According to a MarketingSherpa survey, 95% of respondents 18-34 years old, 92% of 35-44-year-olds, and 85% of 45-54-year-olds report that they follow brands on social media.
In 2020, you need social media to promote your company, create dialogue with your audience, and build an engaged community around your brand that drives growth. It’s an essential part of your online presence and it’s a great place to stand out from your competitors.
If you aren’t on social media yet, or if you aren’t getting what you want out of it, follow our 10 step guide to start using social media marketing to grow your small business.
1. Define Your Measurable Objectives
If you are getting on the social media train simply because you feel like you’re missing out if you don’t, you should stop and think about what you actually want to accomplish by marketing your small business on social media.
It will take time, resources, and (in some cases) money to create an effective social media presence, so it’s essential to set goals and have a sense of direction.
Think about the following objectives and ask yourself what you want to prioritize for your social media strategy:
- Create brand awareness
- Strengthen brand loyalty
- Drive traffic to your website
- Capture leads
- Grow revenue
It’s also essential that you track your progress with these goals. To measure increased brand awareness, keep track of your follower count, post reach, mentions, and shares. These are indicators of people seeing and becoming familiar with your brand.
You can use Google Analytics to keep track of traffic driven to your site by social channels and give you insight into how those visitors behave on your site. Analytics can show you whether or not the traffic you’re getting from social media is converting into leads and sales.
2. Conduct a Competitive Analysis
Once you’ve outlined your objectives, it’s time to do some investigating. Look up your local competitors and start taking notes. Most companies will have links to their social media accounts in the header or footer of their website.
- Identify who your main competitors are
- Find out what social media platforms they are using
- See which of your competitors are doing well on social media
- Get an idea of how your competitors use social media
- Identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT)
You should also look at brands outside of your industry that you have an affinity for. Get inspiration from the companies you see using social media effectively. Take note of any unifying themes that you believe may work for your brand.
3. Choose Platforms Based on Your Target Audience
While you may feel the need to sign up for every social media platform, it’s unlikely that you’ll have the time and resources to build a following and post consistently on everything. When you are first getting started, narrow your sights on the platforms where your target audience is most likely to be active.
Every business should have a Facebook page. It is the most popular social networking platform and third-most visited website on the internet. According to Mark Zuckerberg, more than 90 million small businesses use Facebook. Because it’s so popular, having a Facebook page is a necessary trust signal that shows your prospects that your business is legitimate. It’s also a great platform for connecting with your audience, managing your reputation, and running paid advertising campaigns.
If you are a B2B company, LinkedIn is the place to be. According to LinkedIn’s Marketing Solutions Blog, 80% of B2B leads come from LinkedIn, and 94% of B2B marketers distribute content on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is also a popular source for businesses of all types to find talent for hire and connect with other professionals in their industries.
Instagram is a visual picture and video-based platform that is most popular with younger audiences. Don’t think that you have to be a great photographer, or have a visually interesting business, to make waves on Instagram. You can use your smartphone to take photos and use free online tools to generate custom graphics. Instagram also has a great advertising platform that allows you to promote posts to a relevant audience.
If your company produces video content, or if you plan to in the near future, set up a YouTube account. Wordstream says that video marketers are able to grow revenue 49% faster than marketers who don’t use video.
4. Get Your Visual Branding Together
Your visual branding consists of your logo, a header/banner image, typography/fonts, company colors, and other visual elements that you want to remain consistent throughout your social media profiles. It’s important for you to establish an identifiable and memorable identity through visual branding.
If you already have branding on your website, business cards, and other marketing materials, you should use the same branding on your social accounts.
5. Establish a Brand Voice
Memorable branding doesn’t stop at the visuals. Your brand voice is the personality that you convey through all of your company’s communications. Before you start posting on social media, you should think about what makes your company unique, what your audience will relate to, and how you want to communicate your personality to them.
Where does your brand fall?
6. Create and Complete Your Accounts
Now that you have outlined your goals and defined your brand identity, create profiles on the platforms you chose, and make sure to complete them with all of your information.
- If it’s available, try to get your brand name as your URL/account name
- Ensure your contact information is consistent across all platforms
- Fill out all of the information that you can to complete your profiles
- Upload a profile image, header/banner image
- Ask your employees to follow and share posts when you start posting
7. Create a Social Media Post Calendar
Creating a social media calendar keeps you consistent and prevents you from having to scramble for content when it’s time to post. Decide how often you want to post on each of your social accounts. Then, brainstorm post ideas, start writing drafts, and create some images to go along with them.
You don’t want all of your posts to be promotional. Most of them should aim to inform, entertain, and engage your audience. Keep it interesting by trying out different types of posts, such as:
- Inspirational quotes
- Behind-the-scenes workplace photos
- Polls and questions
- Customer reviews
- Competitions that engage and capture leads
- Repost/share posts that are relevant to your audience
- Promote your blog posts and other online content
- Promote new deals and discounts
- Posts that link to your website/landing pages
You can use a tool such as Google Calendar or create your own calendar using Microsoft Excel. For more advanced post planning features, try a content management system like Hootsuite, which allows you to plan out social media posts in advance and post them automatically.
8. Connect, Share, and Engage With Other Accounts
You’ll find that oftentimes you get what you give on social media. It’s not all about you, and you’ll see far more benefits when you use social media to engage with the community around you.
Follow other businesses and accounts that you like, engage with other peoples’ posts by leaving likes and comments, and always respond to the comments left on your posts. People pay more attention to accounts that interact with them and it will help you build an engaged community around your brand.
9. Be Consistent and Keep Testing What Works/Doesn’t Work
Your social media following and the measurable objectives you’re after won’t come overnight. Don’t get discouraged if you aren’t seeing the results you want right away. Stay consistent and take note of what’s working for you and what isn’t.
Most social platforms offer great analytical data to show you what posts are performing and how your accounts are growing. Make sure you are watching the metrics that relate to your objectives and adjusting your strategy as you see fit.
10. Too Busy? Hand it Off to a Pro
If you don’t have an in-house social media specialist or the time to do it yourself, outsourcing your social media to an agency can be an effective, and surprisingly affordable, solution. Plum offers social media marketing for small businesses, as well as branding and other related services. Give us a call if you’d like to discuss your business’s needs with a digital marketing specialist!