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How Can Social Media Be Beneficial For Your Small Business?

As a small business marketer, you know there is a lot to achieve despite the inadequate resources. Fortunately, social media marketing is pretty low-cost, compared to high-end traditional marketing tactics. Social media can be beneficial in providing you with a direct line to prospective and current customers.

Social media offers small brands a cost-effective way to reach their consumer base and drive their business forward. It is, however, a trade-off – what you save in dollars, you will invest in time. You have to be smart and efficient with the resources in order to bring about the results you desire.

Social Media Can Be Beneficial As A Powerful Lead-Generation Tool

Recent research by LinkedIn suggests that 81% of small businesses use social media. That is, undoubtedly, an impressive percentage, but it also implies there is still a significant number of brands not taking full advantage of social media marketing campaigns. That is a confounding fact when you consider the following:

  • 74% of online adults use social networking sites
  • 81% of consumers research online before making big purchases
  • Three in five small or medium-sized businesses claim that they have gained new customers using social media
  • Social media makes up 57% of your sales funnel

By taking the cost of traditional marketing into consideration and comparing it with social media marketing, it becomes clear that the latter comes out on top. Any company with a low marketing budget can afford to invest in Promoted Pins or use Facebook Ads.

Even if your business does not allow for any type of marketing investment, you can still benefit from networking to develop your start-up’s basic social media marketing strategy.

Social media marketing is, unarguably, essential for the success of your business. The tips mentioned ahead will not only allow you to stay on top of your social media marketing game but will also help you in keeping up with the big-league market competitors.

1. Choose The Right Platform

Keeping in mind the sheer number of social media platforms available, choosing the right online channel can be a daunting task. Moreover, not every social media network is the right choice for every business. Therefore, what you really need to do is the following:-

Narrow Your Focus

You might think that getting active on all of them would be the smartest way, but that is actually the incorrect way to go about it. The main objective of your social media marketing strategy should be growing a loyal fan following, and that takes time, energy, and a lot of honest effort.

Think about it for a second: Is it better to have 50 followers on your Instagram account who visit your website and buy your products or to have 1000+ ‘fans’ on Twitter that barely engage with your content? It is always far better to start small and focus on just one or two social media platforms and grow from there.

Balance Determining Factors

You could possibly opt to start on Facebook – the biggest and the most popular social media platform amongst youth and adults. However, you need to understand that the size of a particular online network is not the only factor that matters. A few other things should also be taken into account:

  • Does the website work well with the type of content you will post?
  • Is it likely to go viral?
  • Are the posts relevant to your type of business?
  • Do your potential customers spend time on a particular network?

For instance, a local diner that relies heavily on reviews would benefit more from social networks such as FourSquare, compared to a beauty consultant who would see better results on Facebook, as shown in the infographic below:-

2. Build A Credible Reputation

Building a credible image for your company on social media is not as complicated as it seems to be. Why, you ask? Because you don’t necessarily need a huge following to do it.

As a local start-up, instead of connecting with a large audience, you just have to meld with the right people. You can begin this process by establishing brand awareness. The best way to do it is to create an online image, a near-to-perfect representation of who you are, both online and offline. Start by designing a look – from the logo to social media graphics – that matches your business theme and persona.

Or, if you have more time than money, you can choose from thousand-and-one tools (many of them are free) such as Google Web Designer, and learn how to do it yourself.

3. Attract Potential Clients

Between her booming businesses with Guy Kawasaki, the co-author of Art of Social Media, Peg Fitzpatrick manages a whopping 13 million followers on Instagram and Twitter combined. Peg told the post planner blog the story of her hairdresser, Betsy, who owns B & B Style Salon in New Hampshire.

Betsy wanted to learn how to use social media for her small business venture and Peg suggested that she use Instagram and Facebook to attract prospective clients. If you would like to do the same for your local business, the first step is to set up geotagging on your Facebook Business Page.

You would want people to be able to check in whenever they’re using your service and each time someone does that, it is free advertising for you since all their friends will see their check-in posts.

As the average Facebook user has a maximum of 100 friends and most are local, think of each service report as advertising to 100 new potential clients!

Need more check-ins? Try offering special incentives for people to use your services. For example, in Betsy’s case, she put up a small sign that said those who check in will get a $5 discount on their next haircut.

This is a great example that shows how a small business owner can attract all the right customers. Instead of having an irrational approach and trying to entice hordes of people who might not want to avail of her services, Betsy focused on connecting with her target market.

Hence, sometimes the little changes that seem to be insignificant can be very impactful for your social media campaigning.

4. Establish Customer Service

Using social media for a start-up is not only good for driving customer engagement; it’s great for relationship building as well. Many customers try to reach you with a question or complaint on online networking forums. So which channel do you think is best equipped to help you handle customer service queries?

Social media sites like Twitter and Facebook are used, roughly, 879 million times a year for consumer complaints. What’s worse is that seven in eight messages to brands go unanswered within 72 hours.

Being engaging and responsive has never been more critical, especially for a small business where the loss of a customer could be direly consequential. Although Instagram is great for direct consumer engagement, it might not be the best place to direct customers with questions about your product.

Due to Facebook and Twitter’s quick accessibility and private messaging capacity, customers more than often opt for either one as their first support resource. Pay extra attention to the aforementioned duo, while monitoring every platform you’re on for mentions of your brand.

@TahmidC Should be Tuesday / Wednesday!

— GAMETEE (@GameTeeUK) September 20, 2015

In the above example, a customer tweeted GAME TEE about one of its products and the company responded in less than an hour. This was a crucial tweet to respond to, particularly since it related to a specific product.

The customer could have been looking to make a purchase or asking about restocking. Had the service waited too long to respond, the customer might have found another brand to make a purchase.

Remember that not everyone talking about your business will use your official link. Make sure to track all variations of your company name so that you don’t miss a chance to surprise and delight your audiences.

5. The Selling Power Of The Hashtag

Retailers have continued to revolutionize the way consumers shop on social media. For instance, Amazon has boosted its social commerce experience with #AmazonCart, allowing Twitter users to add products from tweets directly linked to their Amazon shopping cart so they can easily purchase the items later.

You too can incorporate such a strategy by using free social media sharing tools like Hootsuite, which will make it easier and more convenient to schedule regular tweets related to product deals, holiday campaigns, or company story-telling.

Each post or tweet should include a visual promo code, relevant hashtag, and direct link for purchase such as #petfood and #petlover if, for example, you own a pet store.

6. Wash, Rinse, And Repeat

The most crucial step of business marketing is measuring and analyzing your results.

Tracking performance data is one of the best ways to identify which marketing tactics are working and which ones are not. A few things to watch side by side are sharing, engagement and growth. Many social media websites have tools you can use to track and measure your performance.

Google Analytics is a highly popular, easy-to-use option for monitoring traffic and interactions on your business blog. Make sure to keep track of which social media channels are bringing the most traffic to your website.

In order to ace your social media marketing plan, review your business metrics regularly. Every 2-3 months, take a few steps back and evaluate the big picture. Make adjustments for anything not working and try recreating the things that are.

Final Thoughts

One of the most crucial things to keep in mind, when using social media for your start-up, is that your marketing journey is a marathon, not a sprint. Use this article as a guide to starting your online-promo efforts.

Define your audience and choose the best platform to reach out to them. By conducting relevant consumer research, integrating your social media icons, and keeping track of how things are going, you will slowly position your business for definitive success.

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