Social media marketing and advertising are almost universally-applicable — they scale up to enterprise businesses, and right back down to entrepreneurs.
They’re also essential tools for local small businesses, like restaurants who are increasingly taking proactive steps with their social game — social has the spectacular power of offering access to engaged communities of customers.
Not every small business should be running off and posting daily videos on YouTube, or has the resources to support a unique visual social strategy across multiple social platforms!
Read on for actionable tips on social media marketing for your small business.
Developing a Brand Personality on Social Media
Growing a presence on social media often comes down to having something interesting to say, so developing a distinct social voice is key to standing out from the crowd and attracting followers.
Social media is an opportunity to show the personality behind your brand. When planning your campaigns, consider how your brand will be able to cut through the noise.
- How can the way you speak differ from your competition?
- Is there a hidden story that’s waiting to be told?
- Is there room for a spokesperson or mascot figure in your brand?
Remember — don’t promote your own product or service in every post. Instead, allow your brand values and personality to shine through in a subtle, yet sincere way. Be comical. Be entertaining. Be authoritative. Be motivational.
Decide how you want your brand to be perceived and what customers will likely respond to positively, then drive your social tone in that direction.
Creating and Curating Social Content
With content that entertains or speaks to your customers’ pain points, a small business can form a strong bond with followers.
So how do you go about curating and sharing social content?
Sharing Your Own Social Content
Sharing content from your blog attracts prospects to click through to your website, so periodically work in your own content accompanied by strong calls-to-action, enticing headlines, and quality images. You can share the same blog more than once, especially if it’s evergreen content, but test out different times of the day and switch up the accompanying copy to speak to different stages of the buying cycle — cascading from neutral to more hard sell, but keeping the focus on quality content rather than “buy, buy, buy.“
Curating Social Media Content
Writing content is time-consuming. There’s no great way to automate this process, since social always demands a human touch. To cut down on time, you can source content from other blogs or articles and share on your social platforms. Just be sure you tag the writer or company that published the article to give them proper credit (and potentially generate a share). My suggestion is to set up a Feedly account and subscribe to RSS feeds of relevant blogs and media outlets in your industry, then you can quickly scan these sources when you need help thinking of fresh content.
Emphasis on Visual Content
Visual content is emotive and captures peoples’ attention in feeds, so use images and video in your social content strategy. You can easily find design help online, from free self-help tools like Canva to affordable freelancers on Upwork or Fiverr. So don’t rule design out for your business, because of time or budgetary constraints.
Carefully Craft Your Calls-to-Action
Think about exactly what action you want your followers to take. Do you want them to share, click through, like, buy, or follow? How do you want them to feel?
When writing your social media posts and your calls-to-action, always filter your ideas through to the KISS method — Keep It Simple, Stupid. The second you leave your audience guessing what they’re supposed to do is the second they scroll past your update.
Also, consider using emotive, persuasive words and phrases that are likely to grab peoples’ attention, and think about how you can clearly imply value using a few words. Words like ‘free’, ‘now’, ‘exclusive’, ‘limited time only’ and ‘join’ are popular for a reason — they work!
These words and phrases are even more important in your paid social advertising campaigns, where brevity and value-added are key drivers of success. Wasted impressions or clicks = wasted money.
Be Savvy With Scheduling
For your social media delivery, it’s a good idea to set up a content schedule to ensure you publish posts consistently. The old adage “failing to plan is planning to fail” rings incredibly true with social media.
While you definitely need to keep the door open to real-time posts, I suggest having the bulk of your posts planned in advance. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself struggling to carve out time some days to post, and that quickly becomes a bad habit.
Before you know it, you’ve gone dark for a week or two on one of your platforms — that just looks untrustworthy and disingenuous as a business.
Don’t be afraid to re-post the same piece of content more than once, if it’s appropriate and in line with the etiquette of the social platform.
For example, you can get away with sharing the same blog post on Twitter multiple times a week or month, but that’s less acceptable on Facebook or LinkedIn. With Instagram, you can drive people to the same content regularly in the captions of individual posts, but you should use different photos each time.
Another way to vary your delivery on social media is to re-purpose content using different media formats.
For example, re-purposing a successful blog post by turning it into a video is a great way to make your content go further. Or break down your blog post into multiple social media updates, creating a unique image for each social post.
Keep an Eye on Goals
As with any business initiative, especially marketing, it’s important to know how effective your social media presence is.
So you definitely need to measure the impact of your activity on website traffic, sales, and overall social engagement (which factors into metrics like brand awareness, brand loyalty, community growth, and so on).
You can keep track of your social activity using social analytics tools and, of course, make sure your Google Analytics account is properly set up to record web traffic. Check these analytics tools every month or two, and make note of trends.
- Do certain types of posts perform better, like photos vs. videos?
- Is your overall community size growing organically? If not, you might need to allocate some of your budget to social ads to increase community growth.
- Are your social updates not driving enough traffic? Maybe you need stronger calls to action in your posts or incentives to encourage clickthroughs.
- Do people visiting your site from Facebook convert at a higher rate than people coming from Twitter? Instagram? LinkedIn?
Don’t Bite Off Too Much Early
If you’re worried you’ll get overwhelmed by social media, you should start with just one platform and expand later. So often, businesses jump into social media and try to build a strong presence on multiple platforms, but it’s unlikely you have the resources or expertise to make that happen immediately.
Pick one platform you’re confident you can give full attention to, test to determine if your audience is present there, then invest time into growing a community on that platform.
As you feel more comfortable generating content and you understand what your customers like to see on social, you can expand to other platforms.
Jonathan Payne is a Louisville digital marketing consultant, leading as the CEO of JP Digital with nearly a decade of digital marketing experience helping both small businesses and national brands like Old Forester, Early Times, KORBEL, and University of Louisville.
JP Digital exists to replace that feeling of being overwhelmed by digital marketing with confidence and optimism about the future of your business. Let’s chat if you’re ready to be bold with your digital marketing.