The Truth About Social Media Marketing for Small Businesses
If you’re a business owner, you should know by know that social media is an important social proof element within your organization’s marketing strategy. But how important is it? How much time should you be investing in these platforms? And how to do you measure ROI & ROAS? Let’s dig into some basics:
Why is Social Media Important for Small Businesses?
While most small businesses will not see a direct sales impact from social media, each social channel provides a platform to reach ideal customers and convey your businesses mission. I like to sum up social media’s purpose into the following points:
Search Engine Optimization
Because we believe that SEO is almost always the name of the game for any business’ marketing bottom line, we’ll dig into this one first. Your goal for any online interaction is to bring potential customers or clients through the purchase journey. Whether that is researching the product or service you provide, learning about how your product is different, or retaining satisfied clients, your online marketing goal should be to be seen. Search engine optimization is a multi-faceted approach to being seen on Google, Bing, Yahoo and more. When your brand participates in multiple platforms, you’re improving the odds of being found online.
An astonishing 81% of shoppers do online research before making a purchase online OR offline. So tying back to the point of SEO, you want to be seen on as many channels as possible so that your potential clients can research your business. They want to read real customer reviews, get an idea of your brand’s mission, and see how your product or service can benefit their lives. These platforms simply provide a space for you to communicate just that.
If your business holds any type of events, social media is a marketing necessity. With the slow death of print and even local news stations, people are relying more and more on social platforms to provide information. This includes things to do, who will be there, and even how past events performed. Even without boosting events, the viral sharing of a cool angle on an event can really draw up buzz in the community.
Pay-Per-Click Ad Campaigns
While I never suggest paying just to get attention on social media, there are some sophisticated ways to guide potential buyers through your purchase journey on social media. Beyond just boosting a post for likes, there are several demographic and interest detail settings that a business can leverage to draft compelling campaigns to draw attention to your brand and products. If you’re not sure exactly what that means, please reach out to us about our pay-per-click coaching sessions that review Google Ads, Facebook Ads, LinkedIn Leads and Influencer marketing— before you start throwing money away.
Creating a Brand Story
The same way as it’s usually not advised to propose on a first date, marketing has the same rules. Never just approach your marketing as a list of features that your product or service can provide. Instead you should be providing real value and participate in conversations that your ideal client cares about. Give them a chance to learn about your brand, and how it aligns with their every day life. Using this approach, your company has the chance to create a brand story that is involved and nurturing customer relationships for repeat business.
What Social Channels Should Your Business Participate in?
Guess what? There is no one-size fits all answer here. Each platform needs to exist for different reasons, or wouldn’t we all just be on one channel? The first step towards deciding what channels to be involved with isn’t just how many fans are on each site, but rather where YOUR ideal customer hangs out. Let’s say for instance you are a photographer. Instagram is a GREAT place to showcase your work, but a good percentage of your fans on there will be people that you can’t necessarily physically work with. Let’s say your specialty is in family portraits. A great space for you would be in community Facebook groups where parents are asking for referrals to a newborn photographer or maybe promoting a mini sessions event on Twitter locally. If you need help tracking down who your client is, check out this Free Customer Avatar worksheet. We work through these with our clients during onboarding, mid year reviews and coaching sessions.
How Often Should You Post on Social Media?
Just like I said above, every channel’s purpose and shelf life is different. This means you’re hopefully reaching a different sector of your ideal clientele on each channel. And with that being said, each channel should have its own unique strategy to encourage a wider audience.
There is no one size fits all for Facebook, but there are a few rules of thumb. #1, Facebook cares about instant engagement. The more likes, comments and shares you can get within the first hour, the longer the content will live on your followers newsfeed. So, remember that the next time you want to support a small business, leave a little comment and try to be proactive in timing. #2, Facebook favors video because of the engagement rate. The more videos you can produce, the more visible your channel will be. #3, share others content. Don’t be too overly promotional of your own brand, and make sure you’re participating in the conversation within your community. Finally #4 is to not over-post. You may think the more posts the more chances your business has to “win” the algorithm, but really spammy posts are only hurting your quality score. A good rule for pages under 10,000 likes is to post 5 times a week with great content that provides share-ability. This could be a blog all in its own, so keep checking back and we’ll dive into detail soon. Or if you’re impatient, just go ahead and book that coaching session already.
The Twitter shelf life is almost non-existent, that’s why for lots of small businesses, this platform just doesn’t make sense. However, if you’re that special kind of witty person that has one liners that your ideal customer relates to, there’s almost no such thing as over-posting on Twitter. Be witty, retweet opinions, be a part of the conversation, and engage as much as possible. But if you find yourself wasting too much time trying to come up with captions, this may be something you should outsource.
We already dug into how Instagram is a perfect portfolio for photographers, but perhaps not always the best local community builder. That’s why we love instagram for any of our e-commerce clients, such as Aporei Loungewear. Because they are owned by Facebook, it plays by a lot of the same rules. Instant engagement is important, videos rule, and being social is priority number one. Posting mediocre content is one of the biggest no-nos on this channel, as they want to be THE platform for visual content. Pro-hack: Tailwind App is a great scheduler for Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook that helps post content at your audience’s peak times without having to do it live.
Fun fact, did you know that LinkedIn has the most engagement per social posting compared to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube.. and even Pinterest! That means people are eager to hear and share what you have to say. In addition, it is runner up to the most organic visits from any social media site, only trailing behind Pinterest. A good rule of thumb for LinkedIn posting is once a business day for your company news. Pro Tip: along with your company page, share articles that position yourself as an expert in your field on your own personal LinkedIn profile.
Pretty much the same as Twitter, there is no over-posting on pinterest. But always keep in mind your mission on the platform. Position yourself as an expert and create boards that encourage your ideal clients to follow your boards. Don’t be over self-promotional, try and re-use content but always drive clicks back to your site. Social bookmarking backlinks are always helpful to the SEO bottom line.
Business Website Blog
While technically it may not be considered a social channel, I believe this is one of the most overlooked platforms. While there is no such thing as over-posting on your own blog, there is something to be said about keyword research and quality content. As a minimum, one blog post a month should be added just for SEO value.
Google My Business
This is another channel that I don’t necessarily consider as a social media channel, but it is an important platform in King Google’s eyes. Google My Business is an important platform for SEO and to showcase your customer reviews for social proof. The best part is, there is little maintenance for this platform, as it will remind you about once a week that your post is expiring and to put up a new one. In addition, GMB doesn’t require a whole new strategy, it can easily be a platform to share a past Facebook or Instagram feature that you want to showcase on the search engine.
Admittedly, this is one of those do as I say, not as I do. YouTube is a great channel for SEO and social proof. If you’re one of those people that is comfortable in front of camera YouTube is YOUR channel. In case you didn’t know, Google owns YouTube, which means they favor YouTube results in their search engine queries. The more content you can get up there (again, that adds value) the better!
Yelp & Other Directories
These are the channels that require the least amount of upkeep, but are still important to monitor. As a rule of thumb, I just like to check through my local directory listings (i.e. chamber of commerce sites, yelp, Bing business listings) once a month. I set myself a calendar reminder to dig through and just make sure there are no discrepancies in contact information, that all hot deals are current, and that there are no new reviews requiring moderation.
The Bottom Line About Social Media Marketing in Business
So, did we overwhelm you? That’s OK. It’s a lot to take in. And I always like to preach that perfection is the enemy of progress; meaning don’t avoid using these channels just because you don’t have the time or resources to make it perfect. Any small step towards reaching your ideal customer is just that, a step towards progress. If you’re looking to talk to an expert and leave with an actionable roadmap, let’s talk about our coaching services. We can help build a plan that insures a ROI and if you’re feeling really committed, a return on ad spend for these platforms. Remember, you can do ANYTHING, just stop trying to do EVERYTHING.