Like it or not, social media isn’t going away anytime soon. And with nearly 3.8 billion people using social networks on a regular basis, it’s glaringly obvious that these platforms are a veritable gold mine for marketers – particularly small businesses. Why? Well, first, let’s consider consumer trust and behavior when interacting with their peers and brands on these networks.
According to a recent study:
- 54% of those surveyed say they use social media to learn about a new product
- 71% of people say they trust product reviews from their social networks
- 49% of respondents say that they depend on influencers in their buying decisions
Now let’s take a look at it from a networking perspective. The average Facebook user is connected to 130 people. Let’s say your business Facebook page has 1,000 likes. If you can get even half of your fans to interact with you, your brand could potentially have exposure to some 65,000 people. Pretty powerful stuff, no?
Ok, so you get it. You know social media is important for growing your business, increasing sales, promoting more brand awareness, blah, blah, blah. What you really need are some tips on how to leverage these online tools to get the best possible results, week after week, month after month and year after gloriously successful year. Well, you’re in luck. Grab some popcorn, kick up your feet, sit back and enjoy some words of SMM wisdom.
- Don’t over extend yourself. There are plenty of platforms to choose from, and one of the mistakes many small businesses make is trying to be involved in all of them. Unless you plan on hiring a dedicated social media marketing team to work full time on keeping your brand active on every single site, you’ll be much more successful if you just choose 1-3 that you feel would help you best reach your target audience and focus on being a rock star on those.
- Time things right. There’s actually a right time and a wrong time to post on social media. Depending on your business, who your audience is and what platform you’re using, it’s important that you do some research on this in order to get the most out of your SMM activities. As a little cheat sheet, here’s a nifty infographic from the folks over at FastCompany.
- Make a commitment and schedule time. Posting Tweets and responding to Facebook comments may not be your favorite thing to do, but it’s critical to the ongoing success of your online marketing efforts. Accept this fact, make a commitment to the cause and carve out some time in your calendar each day to tackle your social media tasks. Over time it’ll become like second nature. I promise.
- Establish relationships. It’s not about trying to get as many fans and followers as you can. When it comes to leveraging social networks to grow your business, quality is always better than quantity. Focus on developing relationships with the people in your networks. Start conversations, answer questions, engage with your audience and share content that is useful to them. This will help to naturally – organically – grow your numbers over time. And the network you end up with will be much more valuable.
- Use a variety of content. What you share doesn’t always have to be blog posts or articles. People like variety. Why not upload a funny video clip of someone in your office, or something related to your product or service? How about that clever meme or informative infographic you created or found online? Not only is variety the spice of life, but these types of posts tend to generate a higher level of engagement, so it’s a win-win!
- Sweeten the pot. One of the advantages local businesses have over others when it comes to using social media is the proximity of the audience. People love to get things for free, so offering coupons, giveaways or special offers can really help boost your follower base as well as bring more physical leads to your door. It can also improve social sharing as your fans and followers invite their own networks to take advantage of your offer.
- Make it easy to connect. Finally, if you want to grow the number of people who connect with your brand on social media, make it as easy as possible for them to do so. Include social connect buttons throughout your website and use share buttons on as much content as possible. The easier and more seamless it is to like, share, tweet or pin your material, the more likely your audience will be to do so. (Remember the 65,000 potential leads? Yeah…that’s why this step is so important.)
Of course, these are just a few of the many tricks you can work into your social media strategy to make it more successful. I’d share more, but in the words of Sweet Brown, “Ain’t nobody got time for that.” For now, this should be enough to help lay a solid foundation for consistent, sustained growth for your business through your social channels.