Some people love social media while others don’t understand the appeal, but for any small business, it would be a serious mistake to underestimate the importance of social media in our society.
For many people, social media is a core part of how they interact with others, consume news and find out what’s new and interesting in their world. It’s how they find the products they want to buy and the experiences they want to have. And it’s where they go to highlight poor service they’ve experienced and to warn others off places or businesses they think are sub-par.
But it’s not just a platform for airing grievances. Social media also offers small businesses a real opportunity to shine by providing the kind of personal touch that larger companies find hard to scale. It’s where consumers can go to champion their favourite brands and help spread awareness when they’ve had a good experience.
So what’s the best way to take advantage of the reach that services like Twitter (now X), Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and more offer?
Regardless of the size of your business, the first step is to define your social media strategy. What are your goals? Who is your target audience? What message do you want to convey? How will you know if your efforts are working, and what does success look like? Knowing the answers to these questions will help you choose the right platforms and create content that resonates with your audience.
Not all social media platforms are created equal. Different platforms attract different demographics and serve various purposes, so it’s important to know your customers well. What kind of people are they and where do they spend their time online? What are they interested in and what’s important to them?
Research and identify which platforms they frequent the most, and then think about how your company might thrive there? For example, if you are selling visually appealing products, Instagram and Pinterest might be your go-to platforms. If you provide professional services, LinkedIn could be more suitable.
Maybe you have decided to have a presence on multiple platforms, and if so you should give some thought to making sure your accounts are consistent in terms of tone and presentation. For example, it can be a good idea to use the same profile picture, cover photo, and brand colours to ensure that your audience recognises your business wherever they encounter it.
Social media allows you to talk directly to your audience, and it’s here that being a small business can play in your favour. Developing and curating a business personality that suits your business goals can help you establish what your strengths are with customers.
Larger companies often struggle to create an authentic feel online, so this is a place where being personal counts for a lot. People interacting with your accounts can be sure there is a real person behind the posts and messages they see.
Your social channels are an always-open virtual shopfront for your business and its products and services. This is why it’s important to post regularly, and to respond promptly to comments and messages. By all means, encourage discussions and feedback in your comments sections but don’t be afraid to block and delete. It’s your page, after all.
Remember also that a social channel that’s dormant and hasn’t been updated in weeks or months can make your business look amateurish, out of touch or worse, like it’s on the way out.
Wondering what to post? Look at what your competitors are doing, and in particular notice those you think do social well, and ask yourself why? Then look around your business and think in terms of content that might work well online. Share informative articles, entertaining videos and eye-catching visuals.
Crucially, don’t just focus on selling but instead aim to build a relationship with your audience by providing them with content that entertains or inspires and communicates your company’s values.
You can also explore user generated content. Encourage satisfied customers to share their experiences with your products or services. User-generated content serves as authentic endorsements and can significantly boost your brand’s credibility. But don’t forget to ask permission and engage with your customers to make sure they’re happy to have their thoughts and opinions shared.
Social media advertising can be a powerful tool, even for those with limited budgets. Platforms like Facebook and Instagram offer highly targeted advertising options that can help you reach your desired audience effectively. Organic reach (unpaid for shares and likes) will always count for more but if you have a defined goal and need to access a tightly defined group of people, advertising can work.
It costs nothing to collaborate, at least in principle. Consider getting together with other small businesses or even influencers in your sector who have complementary offerings to yours. Partnerships and shout-outs can help you reach new audiences and build a stronger brand presence.
With a well-defined strategy, dedication, and creativity, your business can make its mark and build a strong online presence. Don't underestimate the potential of social media in connecting with your audience, growing your brand, and ultimately, driving your goals forward.
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