We are seeing more and more small businesses joining the online revolution and giving their business an online presence. On the one hand technology has made it so much easier to do so. Almost anybody with virtually no technical skills at all can take their business online.
However, on the other hand, with so many businesses going online the level of competition is getting tougher as each day goes by.
As a small business you have a tough challenge ahead of you as you need to get your company noticed, build your online brand, attract customers and increase your sales.
The good news is that it isn’t all an uphill struggle.
There are so many online marketing strategies that you could use to promote your business but by far one of the best marketing methods is the through the use of social media. Small sized businesses and large scale corporations are using social media to promote their products and services.
With the use of social media you will have that much needed leverage to not only stay in the game but positively flourish and enjoy huge profits that you would not have had if you hadn’t taken your business online.
Social media is hugely popular and everybody from grandparents to teenagers are addicted to it.
This is great news for businesses and gives you the perfect platform to promote your company. If you are looking for an affordable means of marketing your business then social media is definitely what you are looking for.
With so many different platforms to choose from you will be able to find the perfect one that suits your business and start reaping the rewards very quickly compared to traditional means of marketing.
A brief Overview of Social Media Marketing
When it comes to reaching a wider target audience, the numerous social media sites on offer will not let you down. The most popular social media networking sites have millions of active users all around the world.
You will have a much better overall internet marketing strategy if you include social media as part of your marketing campaign. You will be able to easily promote and market your company as well as the products and services you are offering.
It is an incredibly effective method of gaining better company branding. In addition, it is easily one of the most affordable online marketing strategies and allows you to share content, photos and video sharing that will engage with your customers and fans which will then, in turn increase your web traffic, online and presence and sales.
Benefits of social media marketing
There are several things which you can do with social media marketing that will help your business by providing you with various benefits such as:
• Better company brand recognition
• Increase the public’s awareness about your products and services
• Interact, socialise and build a stronger relationship with your clients
• Gain new customers while retaining existing ones too
• Provides you with an effective way to provide excellent customer service
Here are some other reasons why your business should be involved in social media marketing:
It helps you to establish the identity of your company. You can use this to your advantage and make your products or services more recognisable to the public. With social media you can create the buzz for your business and attract lots of new customers.
You get more exposure. Almost all of the social media sites have a ‘share’ feature which means that your fans and followers can help spread the word about your product and service by sharing your posts and content with other people that they know.
Great for feedback. Social media marketing quickly allows you to get to know what other people are saying about your company, products and services. This feedback is invaluable because you will be given the opportunity to improve your products and make it well fitted to the needs of your customers. You will also be able to answer any queries that your customers might have in a professional, timely and interactive manner. This will help you to attract even more potential customers.
Enjoy higher search engine ranking: By making good use of social media marketing not only will you get all of the great benefits mentioned above but your website will also have higher search engine ranking. Sites like Google are rewarding websites who have a good social medial reputation. If your business is active on these sites then your website could get a much higher ranking in the search engines.
General strategy for super social media marketing
Despite its many advantages, some small businesses are daunted by the prospect of promoting their businesses on social media sites. It is fast paced and is constantly evolving. Don’t let that put you off as these will actually work to your advantage.
Here are some tips that will help give you a solid foundation in social media:
Figure out which platform will work best for your business:
Unless you are a huge firm with unlimited resources at your disposal to set up an advertising campaign on every social media platform available, the chances are you will just want to focus on one or two sites instead.
In fact, depending on your business, not every social media site is going to suit your marketing, your audience or what you are trying to achieve.
For a business heavily reliant on SEO, then Google+ and blogging might be the way to go.
If your business is keen to get involved with community building then Facebook, blogging and Twitter will be perfect.
If on the other hand your business relies heavily on visual and graphics, Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram would be the best options for you.
If you are undecided which platform to use the best advice when you are first starting off is to experiment with the social media platform that you think will work best for your business and then measure the progress, or lack of it. If you are not getting the results you expected then you can re-focus on the platforms that will suit your business better.
Once you are established and comfortable on, for example, a Facebook, Twitter and YouTube account you can then start thinking about expanding on to Pinterest or Instagram. Use whatever is best for you and your business.
If expanding doesn’t work or is too much for you then concentrate all of your efforts on the social media network that works best for your brand. You don’t want to run the risk of spreading yourself too thin and becoming a jack of all trades but master of none. Trying to be active on too many sites will only drain you of time and resources and you won’t achieve what you wanted to from social media marketing.
Define and access your goals
Know in advance what you want to achieve from your social media marketing. Whether it is brand awareness, more sales or customer loyalty stick to one main goal at a time. For example, your goal might be; “I want to increase traffic to my website by 15% in the next three months”. During those months evaluate how your marketing is going and make the changes needed in order to reach the goal.
Test, tweak, re-test and repeat
It is unlikely that you are going to get everything right on your first attempt at social media marketing.
With that in mind don’t be afraid to experiment. Test the waters with new ideas, tweak old ones and repeat what works for you. It is imperative that you evaluate your progress with social media marketing regularly and brainstorm ideas on how you can improve your ongoing marketing campaign.
Slow and steady wins the race
Social media success does not happen overnight. Just like in real life, friendships and bonds between you and your customers can take a long time to build. Keep working at getting results. So many small businesses dive into social media marketing with so much enthusiasm only to give up not long afterwards because they didn’t have the 1.5 million Facebook fans and a ton of sales in their first few weeks like they imagined. Be patient. It takes a lot of time and dedication but they rewards are huge once it happens.
Don’t over-promote: Build Relationships
We can’t overemphasise this point enough: the vast majority of social media users do not visit Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and the like to be given the hard sell by companies.
Your job is to build trusting and loyal relationships on the social media sites by being friendly, sharing great content, helping people and earning their trust. Sure you will be delivering some promotional content but it needs to be well balanced. Just like in the real world, social media followers will relate to a brand that they can trust. This would not include brands that bombard them with one sales pitch after another. All of this hard work will build a positive image around your brand and will soon convert into sales.
The rule of thirds
An easy way to balance out your social media output is to think of the rule of thirds: For one third of your time share your own content; stuff related in topic but from another source for another third and then interact with your customers and help them out on a one-to-one basis for the other third of your time.
Engage with your fans…but do it the right way
One of the biggest traps that many businesses fall into is that of posting certain kinds of posts as bait to encourage likes and comments. The most obvious examples are; “Fill in the blank” and “Click LIKE if you think X is X…” and so on. While these are great for occasional use, they do not give you a very accurate overview of fans and customers who are really engaged with your content and how successful your efforts really are. Anybody can post an image of a cute puppy to get ‘likes’ but what real impact does it have on your fans opinion of your brand?
Create a content calendar
Translate your social media policy ideas into concrete steps for action. An excellent way to do this is by creating a content calendar that can be edited as time goes by. Plan what content you are going to put on your social media site and when.
Your social Media Marketing is Important….be careful who you assign to run it.
If you owned a car dealership would you give the role of marketing manager to your mechanic? Probably not. The mechanic will no doubt be really good at their actual job but you wouldn’t trust them to run your marketing campaign. We have seen company bosses give the job of looking after their social media sites to interns and part time Saturday staff.
You get what you pay for and the cost to your brand could be more detrimental to your business than positive. Remember, thousands, even millions of people could be watching how your business presents itself online. You need to watch over it and make sure that the right message is getting out there.
Put your audience first
Think about your target audiences needs, wants and challenges. Use market research to find out where your social media efforts are best targeted.
Spend time listening and observing
One of the most powerful planning tactics for social media marketing is to watch and listen to what people are saying about your business and industry. Use this information to tailor your approach as time goes on.
Never attack your competitors
Unless you want to damage your brand considerably, never attack your competitors maliciously on social media sites. Instead use social media to communicate and sell better than them.
As mentioned earlier, social media is all about building relationships. Be consistent, present, real and genuine in all of your communication if you want to encourage genuine interaction with customers on a slow and steady path to creating loyal customers for life.
Social media marketing has become an indispensible tool for local businesses just like yours. It gives you the perfect opportunity to build relationships, engage with customers and increase sales like never before.
Feel free to contact us for expert advice and support in your online marketing campaigns. We will be glad to help.