Should My Small Business Post, Pin, Tweet, and Gram?
Social media can either be a sandtrap or surprisingly effective marketing tool for smaller, local businesses. You know this. But how much effort should you put into? Is it worthwhile to outsource to a marketing agency? Are my posts increasing my business? There's no one answer to these questions.
Social media is huge. According to Statista, well-known platforms have staggering numbers. By millions of users in January 2018, these include:
- Facebook — 2,167M
- YouTube — 1,500M
- Instagram — 800M
- Twitter — 330M
- LinkedIn — 260M
- Snapchat — 255M
- Pinterest — 200M
Billions of people connect, share news, and shop through social media. The question is, What does Joe's Small Business need to know about it?
Let's put these questions to rest.
What is Social Media For?
Social media is a Pandora's Box for out-of-time business owners. Yes, we see mega brands hit millions of likes and follows, politicians racing to fame or shame, and celebrities endorsing vital causes. But how does your small, local business fit into the equation?
Here it is: To prove your legitimacy and improve your company's outreach.
"Legitimacy" is important for two reasons. 1) A large portion of your market will look for reviews, pictures, and what other people say about your business on social platforms, and 2) It proves you exist.
People are distrustful of the Internet. Having a sketchy website for your auto body shop and zero activity in years will turn away potential customers. The average service company doesn't need a celebrity-level Twitter feed, either. One rule of thumb is to post important information consistently to slowly grow your followers so, when you do have an important announcement to make, people will see it and trust it.
Online outreach is your billboard. Are you opening a new branch, offering 25-percent off on your services? Did your employees build a house or reach an incredible milestone? This is what social media is for.
Social media's intent is to connect people who want to share news, experiences, and opinions. For restaurants, daycares, pet groomers, and other local and small businesses, your regulars and "fans" are likely to like, comment on, and share your latest announcements. What's this do? This improves the chances of non-profile followers to see your post on their friends' feeds.
A three-step example:
- Your coffee shop announces on Facebook it's donating partial proceeds to a local cause over Memorial Day weekend.
- Your followers (even if the number is small) will interact and share this post in support.
- Your followers friends will see the post and, hopefully, interact with it and follow you.
This example is specific and not applicable to every business, of course, but it gives you an idea of local viral marketing that's possible with just a little effort and planning.
Which Social Platforms Should I Use?
This is case-by-case, but there are some go-to rules for businesses scared of missing out of opportunities or drowning in the dozens of platforms that are out there.
A good rule of thumb: Use what makes sense.
LinkedIn is a good example of an industry-driven platform. What's it for? For people to find jobs and network. Businesses use LinkedIn for B2B marketing and industry information. Does your antique store or bar need an active LinkedIn profile? Probably not.
The Social media marketers at Web Design and Company investigate how your business can fit into the social space to make the most of your investment and our time. It makes sense for headhunters to use LinkedIn, for businesses to trade news on Twitter, and for just about everyone to have Facebook as a launchpad to your website. Do you need Pinterest or Snapchat? Maybe. If there's a creative way to use it, we'll find it.
The exception to this rule is an important one. You will want to "own" social media accounts for branding purposes and then, if you see a reason to, use them.
Social Media vs. Website Marketing
We get this question quite often: "Why do I need a website when I have a Facebook page?" Or, "Why do I need Twitter when I have an awesome blog?"
The answer is apparent when you start looking at how people bounce around the Internet. A strong website with search engine optimization and quality content can rank high on Google search results, allowing you to increase visitors based on keywords ("local law firm," "St. Louis startup incubator," "restaurants near me," etc.). Social media profiles, however, don't rank the same way.
Social media — like a Facebook feed — supports a more intimate way for your followers and friends of your followers to learn more about your business. Maybe a user didn't know she wanted new patio furniture and never would have thought to Google "new patio furniture." But, upon seeing a shared gallery of backyard photos, will likely click your profile and later visit your website.
The goal here is online visibility. You want more people to find your business and, when they get to your business, to see that you A) Know what you're talking about, B) Offer well-reviewed services and products, and C) Are engaged with customers. Businesses that invest in web design and social media can make this happen.
Social Media Best Practices
We can go on for pages about social media marketing and best practices. There's search analytics for finding your target audience, how long your Tweets should be, the number of hashtags to use, and even the time of day you should post images. It's a lot to stomach for small businesses.
Our marketing team boiled it down to 10 foolproof social media strategies that apply to 98% of all situations. Here it is:
- Accurate contact info (phone, address, hours, etc.) on all online sources
- Make a habit of posting consistently and checking your online profiles
- From Moz, publish content that makes your followers' lives easier (reminders, price-cuts, holidays)
- Strike a balance between "entertaining" and "promotional," see what gets a better reaction
- Get help before launching pay-per-click and sponsored campaigns
- Images and videos...use them
- Stay away from controversial posts that could damage your branding
- Set a goal! Like, "I want 1,000 followers," and know it won't happen overnight
- Proofread content and check links before publishing anything
- Ask for help from professional Internet marketers
Social media is as effective as the time and effort you put into it. Do you want to grow your business' Facebook following by posting fun, informative content that has close to nothing to do with your business? You can do that. Want to connect with other companies on Twitter to prove your authority? Easy. Want to grow online platforms that allow you to market in a fun, cost-effective way? Web Design and Company can help.
Posted By Brennan Girdler - February 28, 2018
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