Social media recently became one of the biggest things, not only in online marketing, but marketing in general. With many various platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat (and many more!) and billions of users all around the world, social media are an absolute must-have for every business, regardless of its size.
Planning a social media strategy for a small business might seem tough, tricky and laborious. That’s why, in this article, I will guide you through the process step by step. It’s not as hard as you might think! And the benefits can be incredible!
Why do you need a social media strategy for a small business?
Currently, people use social media on a daily basis as a tool to communicate, share, talk, leave likes and consume content. 53% of US citizens use Facebook several times a day with an average visit lasting around 20 minutes. Add all the other social media platforms and you will begin to get an image of all the ways you can reach potential customers! Add the time people spend daily on all social networks and you’ll get a full idea of how many opportunities and ways to promote your business there are!
Let’s put the massive audience and exposure aside for a second now. There’s one more reason why you need a social media strategy for a small business. Simply posting things will not do. You need to set goals of what do you want to achieve with your social networks. Where are you now and where do you want to take them? How are you planning to do it? All these things will make your social media presence much more profitable for you and enjoyable for your audience!
Here’s a list of topics we’re going to cover in this article:
1. Define your strategy
Okay, time to create some social media accounts and start posting! But wait…
Before doing anything social media-related you need to ask yourself several questions:
Who is my audience?
Who is going to like, comment and share the things you upload on your social media channels? Who are you going to engage? To answer that questions, look at what your business offers.
A tech startup will cater to savvy, growth-oriented and entrepreneurial people, probably in their 20s or 30s.
A cool hip restaurant will gather an audience of young, urban people, students, freelancers and professionals, likely doing something with a creative angle.
A law firm will have an audience of experienced professionals, potential clients and specialists in the field.
The point in defining your social media audience is to be as specific as you can. Age, gender, preferences, job, financial status, hobbies, location – these are the things you need to take into account!
“But… what’s the point of doing it? Seems like a time waster.”
Well, read on!
What social networks should I focus on?
Once you’ve created your customer profile you can think of the places online where your potential audience might hang out.
To do this, you need to understand how different social networks operate.
Let’s come back to the examples from the previous paragraph.
Young entrepreneurs with their mind set on growth would want to know not only updates on your projects, but also news from the startup world. Consider LinkedIn – a network dubbed “Facebook for professionals”. It is perfect for showing a more sophisticated angle of your business. Facebook and Twitter would also be great for this purpose. Both are amazing tools for sharing news and updates. With the latest doubling of Twitter’s (in)famous 140 character limit, you can use both of the platforms in a similar manner, sharing short commentaries in form of posts.
The cool kids who you’d like to try your great vegan burger on a gluten-free brioche bun are most likely using all the cool and flashy social networks. Have a look at Snapchat. It offers a myriad of possibilities to showcase how funny and relatable you are – start with posting stories (think of behind-the-scenes content – it really resonates with people!), creating your Bitmoji and using the recent AR feature! Instagram, with its focus on photos and short clips, is perfect to get personal with your audience. It’s a perfect platform for businesses that can really benefit from exposing their visual side – food, design, art and so on. Of course, you should not ditch Facebook and Twitter – they are amazing as a way to inform your customers of things like new additions to the menu or the way your business grows.
What about the law firm? Considering the highly professional audience, networks like Snapchat would be rather useless. Instagram can be used, but more as a way to share things like infographics or news you upload on Facebook or Twitter. It is, however, LinkedIn that takes the top spot here. It is a social network created for purposes of… networking! The phrase “Facebook for professionals” is not just a funny expression. LinkedIn is actually a powerful tool for obtaining valuable B2B leads! If you look for high-profile clients, LinkedIn is your go-to social network!
What’s the point of picking the right social media channels? In years to come, targeted social media activities will be absolutely crucial for businesses. In times where people are flooded with content, you need to pick the places to share very carefully!
What is the voice of my business?
Once you determine what audience should you cater to and what social networks should you use for that purpose, it’s time to find out how are you going to do it.
How do you want your customer to think about your business?
If your business was a person would your customers want to hang out with it?
Would they want to become pals?
Would they want to ask it for advice?
Determining your business persona is as important as knowing your customer profile. It needs to reflect what your customers might expect from you and at the same time be authentic and genuine. There’s literally nothing worse than chatting with a person and then upon meeting for a coffee or something, you realize they are completely different than the image you’ve had in your mind.
2. Determine how you’re going to use your social media channels
What do you want to achieve with your social media strategy for a small business? More recognition in your local area? More leads? A lighter image of your brand?
Social media is a great tool to shape your brand identity and influencing the way your customers think about your business. You can use it to share your blog content that’s valuable to your audience and has panels or pop-ups for lead generation. You can post witty updates or longer, more personal pieces. You can upload photos or videos showcasing the day-to-day life of your business. You can use it to inform your audiences about major developments of your business.
Whatever you decide to do – make sure it fits with the image of your business as well as the expectations of your audience. A great way of ensuring that is to match the language you use on your social networks with the way you want your business to be seen.
Keep in mind that different channels can be used for different purposes. You don’t need to post the same things on your Facebook and your Instagram. However, remember that every action you take on social media needs to fit a larger plan! Consistency is the key when it comes to social media!
3. Fill out your profiles
That’s actually upsetting how often businesses omit that part. Just for the sake of you getting all of this right, I will list the things you need to include on your social network profiles.
Contact info and opening times
You want people to be able to find or contact your business, right? If you have an office or a shop, you need to provide an address and opening times. Apart from that, a telephone number and an email address are a must!
Who you are?
What does your business do?
How can you benefit the customer?
What makes you stand out from similar companies?
These are the things that customers want to know when they head to your “About” section.
Be detailed, but try to tell about your business is as few words as possible. Ain’t nobody got time for reading an essay on what you do, right?
Profile and cover pictures
The most obvious choice for a business profile picture is the logo. In this case, don’t try to act all original – logo is actually the best choice for your business profile picture! It is the first thing people will pay attention to – make it as relatable to your company as possible! And there’s nothing as relatable as a logo!
When it comes to cover photos, you can go for more options. A collage of pictures from your office, a nice photo of a founder/CEO, a lovely group photography from a company meeting – the possibilities are plenty. Keep in mind that the sizes of cover photos vary among social networks:
Facebook: 828px x 315px
Twitter: 1500px x 500px
LinkedIn: between 1000px x 425px and 4000px x 4000px for personal accounts and a minimum of 974px x 330px for company pages.
4. Start posting
Think of using scheduling tools
Having a business is not a piece of cake. There’s not always time to spend on perfecting your social media strategy, especially when it comes to small businesses. Heck, you may lack the time to do everything else and may think of shoving your social networks aside. Hiring a social media person? That may be really expensive…
Luckily, there are tools like Buffer. Buffer allows you to schedule posts in advance. In this way, once you have a spare hour to kill, you might plan your social media strategy for the next couple of days! It also costs nothing to start using Buffer with its most basic, individual program.
Posting times do matter
No matter how awesome your social media strategy for a small business is, it won’t matter much if nobody sees your posts!
If you have a local business that bases its customer base on people in close proximity, then an obvious thing would be to post during the day. However, if your business is oriented internationally, you need to adjust your posting times to the time zones your audience lives within. For example, if you are stationed in the UK and you have most of customers from the US, you need to schedule your posts for the night. If you start expanding to the Asian markets and still want a presence on your native ground, you need to spread your activity throughout the entire day.
The point is to stay visible in people’s feeds!
If you want to get into more detail on the exact posting times for each social network, I’ve made a post dedicated to that topic!
However, keep in mind that different companies may have different perfect posting times. Although there are some guidelines and general principles about posting, you need to find these out yourself! Use analytics tools provided by social networks to find out, which posts at what times get the most attention and adjust your strategy accordingly!
Don’t post too much
It might come off as an obvious truth that the more you post the more visible you will be. The reality is, however, that if you cram-pack your audience’s feed with an overwhelming amount of posts, you will be seen as pushy and obnoxious. That’s a sure way to lose your followers!
You need to find out yourself what amount of posts works best for you. But the general principle is to not overdo it!
Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram are networks that can do fine with a smaller amount of posts per day. One or two would be completely fine. Twitter, however, due to its characteristic character limit (previously 140, now 280) can do fine with a much bigger amount of posts – five to seven a day would be perfect!
Use Facebook and LinkedIn for bigger news and announcing more significant developments.
Use Twitter for quick updates.
Another crucial thing is to avoid bulk-posting. There might be a time when you might need 25 hours in a day and that still won’t be enough to sort out your social media. That’s fine. But don’t try to make up for a couple of lost days by posting 20 updates in 30 minutes! That will come off even more obnoxious and cringeworthy than posting too much! What you need to do is to spread out your posts evenly throughout the entire day – your followers will appreciate it.
Set targets and find ways to meet them
“I want 2000 followers on my Instagram and twice as many likes for each post”
That’s great! And doable.
Once you set a target for yourself, try to find ways to meet it. Try including more business-related keywords in your posts. Switch up hashtags. Share more photo and video content. Try out a different posting schedule. Reach out to bigger players in your field for promotion opportunities.
Don’t leave your social networks idle! Keeping a tight posting schedule is crucial, but it may not be enough for your social media channels to grow. Take action, examine data and adjust your social media strategy – that’s the way to win!
What to post to drive up your engagement rates
Currently, video content is the social media marketing buzzword. If you have the means to do so, start recording! You can then either post them on Facebook’s video platform or YouTube. Twitter is also a great place to drive up engagement with videos.
Instagram is a good place to post short clips – there’s a one-minute limitation.
Snapchat and Instagram Stories can be used as a way to post really short videos. The video format on these networks encourages shooting really personalized, behind-the-scenes content!
Live video is yet another amazing content type you can share. A great thing about live content and streaming is that it’s highly personal and unedited – hence incredibly genuine and authentic!
Another great option is to share your blog articles. This will drive the CTR on your main website and is likely to drive up your conversion rates!
5. I’ve launched my social media strategy – what now?
Social media is a constant effort. Launching your social media strategy for a small business is only the first step. Now you need consistency and improvement. Here are some areas that you need to look into if you want your social networks to grow.
Track your demographics to keep your customer profile up-to-date
Use analytical tools provided by social networks to find out who follows you: their age, gender, location, occupation, hobbies, etc.
This will allow you to continuously update your customer profile. This, in turn, will make it possible to adjust your social media strategy – content, number of posts, frequency and so on.
Keep an eye on hashtags
Hashtags are a great driver of social media exposure. An Instagram post with a single hashtag will receive on average 12.6% more engagement than a post with no hashtags. They segregate content, exposing you to your potential audiences – they kind of do your targeting for you!
For your social media strategy for a small business to work perfectly, you need to test different hashtag combinations. Use tools like Hashtagify to find the most related tags and see, which ones work the best for you.
Go beyond likes to measure the impact of your social media strategy
Likes and follows are great. They tickle that sense of vanity that we all secretly have.
But when it comes to measuring the effectiveness of your social media strategy, there are indicators that can tell you much more about the growth of your business!
How many leads have you generated?
What is your CTR?
How many people go beyond viewing just one content page (what is your bounce rate)?
What is the ratio of the number of followers to the number of comments per post?
What is the ratio of positive to negative reviews?
What do people say in the comments?
Start looking answers to these questions instead of checking how many likes you got!
Test new solutions and approaches
Social media is a very dynamic area where you can improve constantly.
Try out a new posting schedule. Or different posting times.
Change your hashtags for one week and see how that works.
Start replying to comments more – see how that affects your conversion rates.
Set up an account on a social network you’ve never tried before.
These are only some of the ideas on how to test new approaches, draw conclusions and improve your social media strategy for a small business. I do realize that, due to a lack of time or budget, you might not be able to experiment with social media all the time. However, try to put it somewhere on your agenda. Your business might benefit from that greatly!
Creating a social media strategy for a small business is not necessarily the least time-consuming or easiest tasks. It requires a lot of planning, scheduling, experimenting and adjusting.
The benefits of a well-prepared social media strategy for a small business can be, however, enormous. It can improve areas such as: CTR, customer engagement, conversion rates or online exposure.
Let’s recap what you’ve learnt from this article:
- Define your strategy – determine the audience, social networks to focus on and the voice of your business.
- Decide how you’re going to use your social media
- Fill out your profiles – add contact information, write something for the “About” section and upload profile as well as cover photos.
- Start posting – consider using scheduling tools, learn the perfect posting times, find out how many posts to share per day.
- What to after launching your strategy – update your customer profile constantly, use hashtags, use data to measure the impact of your social media strategy, test new solutions in order to improve.