35 Social Media Marketing Tips to Grow Your Business Online
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Growing your business online doesn’t have to be as complicated as some people make it seem. To help you grow, we’ve compiled our top 35 social media marketing tips, which include everything from overarching strategy recommendations to tactical steps to improve how you’re seen online so you can increase sales.
Let’s dig in.
Focus on Building Authentic Relationships
In a world of inauthentic posts, fake followers, and comment bots, be real. The best accounts on social media are those that focus on building relationships instead of gaining as many followers as possible. If someone shares their story of how your product or service helped them, respond and say thank you.
Write a message that shares how you appreciate that story, and then follow up later on. A brand that checks in on customers? You don’t typically see that, and the time spent in your DMs will build the authentic relationships that will grow your business authentically, too.
Put in the Time
This is one tip that most people don’t like to hear, because it’s a challenge. You have to put in the time to see results! Commit to at creating visual and written content, posting three to five times per week, and monitoring the type of content that performs best for your audience on each channel. From there, you can adjust as needed so you can continue to provide the content your audience likes.
Remember the Visuals
Social media, especially Instagram and Pinterest, are visually driven. In order to engage with your audience, you need to remember to focus on visuals like photos, quote images, and video. Everything you need is in the palm of your hand, without the need for expensive programs.
Forward Push Social Media Manager Keoni Baccus shares, “For easy content creation on the go, we prefer apps like Over, Canva, and even iMovie.”
Build Your Authority by Knowing Your Niche
People don’t buy from companies and individuals they don’t trust. And that trust comes from authority in your niche. As you show your expertise, you begin to provide value followers are looking for. The more they find your information to be applicable and accurate, the more trust they have with you.
This trust is what will sell your products or services. Start by sharing up-to-date and relevant information on important topics in your niche. If you’re a lawyer focusing on family law, share updated regulations on child support, or what people need to know before a custody hearing. The better the knowledge, the better the authority.
Monitor Social Media Trends
If there’s one thing certain about social media, it’s that it evolves quickly. One month videos will perform best, and the next it will be images or text. As you work to grow your small business online, always monitor social media trends. Focus on the news surrounding the platforms you’re on, but also keep an eye on other options.
Pinterest may not be a good option now, but in three months it could be the next big thing for your company’s social media presence.
Maintain Your Brand Voice
What makes a brand stand out to you? While it’s typically a mixture of elements, the brand voice is at the core. It’s what gives Warby Parker its quirk and Allstate Insurance its helpful demeanor. Your brand is the same way.
If you haven’t taken time to consider your brand voice, take 30 minutes to wordsmith some ideas about how you want to sound. Then, take your top choices based on preference, industry, and audience and use them as cues for every piece of content moving forward.
Utilize Free Resources to Stand Out
What if we told you that social media today is easier than it was five years ago, even with increased competition? It’s true. The amount of free resources available today is staggering, and it’s up to you to take advantage.
“Free” and “stand out” may not sound like they fit together, but if you have a limited budget, free photo websites like Unsplash can improve your visual identity without having to pull out your credit card for licensing fees.
Above All, Help & Educate Your Audience
Similar to building authority in your niche, you always want to focus on helping and educating your audience. People respond to genuinely helpful content better than when they can tell that there’s an ulterior motive. Give freely, because the information you’re providing shows that you know your product or service and your industry, and people remember that.
Gratitude and Generosity Will Build Your Audience
In the same way, always be aware of what a privilege it is to have followers on social media. They’re choosing to give you the opportunity to appear in their feed. (Outside of ads, of course.) Consider ways to give back to your audience, like giveaways, free webinars, or even customer appreciation days.
People like to feel wanted. Once you begin to implement that into your social media strategy, you’ll begin to see success.
Test What Others Haven’t Done
In a world of articles (like this one!), you still need to test what others haven’t done. Try out a new type of post that you haven’t seen anyone else do, or try a different hashtag strategy to see what will increase your post reach. Whatever it is, make your own best practices so you can stand out in a crowded online community.
Share Your Story Regularly
When was the last time you shared your story with your followers? Likely much longer than you think. Every company has a story, and it’s often what builds that brand-customer relationship. Begin integrating it into your social media presence in varying ways.
One month it could be a long-form Instagram post, and the next it could be a quick snippet on Instagram Stories while walking between meetings. Just be sure to tie it back to your customers so they know why it’s important.
Focus on Trust, Not Follower Count
Followers, and even likes and comments, are vanity metrics. They won’t actually sell your product or service. It’s a byproduct. Focus on building trust with your community online, because people by from companies they trust. This is particularly true for supplements, kid’s products, and home services.
When you shift your perspective from follower count to trust, over time, you’ll begin to see better engagement and more purchases.
Maintain Consistent Branding Across Channels
We’ve already established that branding is important. Are you staying consistent across channels, though? Every platform has their best type of content (like Instagram’s image focus), but you can still be consistent.
If you’re using color blocking on Instagram, utilize the same colors on Facebook and Pinterest. If your brand voice is helpful and witty on Facebook, then it should be the same on Twitter. This helps your brand become recognizable and memorable.
Cross Promote Your Social Media Channels
Even though people are often on multiple social media channels, they may not be following you on each one. Cross promote your channels by highlighting the type of content you share on each one or by offering a giveaway.
This shouldn’t be a significant number of posts so you don’t annoy your audience, though. One post per month should keep it present on your feed without overdoing it.
Brands Can Be Multi-Dimensional, but It Needs to be Done Right
Like people, brands can be more than one thing. Picture Lemonade, the AI-driven insurance startup. They provide renters and housing insurance, but they’re also personable, technology-advancing, and a B-corporation. Your brand can be multi-dimensional, too, but it needs to be done right.
Consider all the areas you want your brand to encompass, and begin to build links between them in the content you share and the brand voice you encompass.
Embrace Your Unique Self (Even for Brands!)
Embracing your unique self is usually focused on personal branding, but brands can do the same thing. “Netflix is an epic example of this,” shares Baccus, “their Twitter presence sets them apart from their competitors while still sharing information relevant to their business.”
You may not have the same scale as Netflix, but you can still be unique in your local area to stand out from your competitors.
Focus on the Platforms Where Your Customers Live Online
Your audience likely isn’t on every social media platform. This means it’s time to focus your valuable time and energy on the ones that matter. Research where your customer lives online, whether it’s through demographic information like age and location, the industry they work in, or even their answers to customer surveys on where they follow you.
Once you know the specific platforms your audience is on, remember to create content that’s helpful and specific to the platform.
Prioritize Trust Over a Perfect Strategy
Yep, we said it. A brand that people trust is more important than a perfectly executed strategy. If people don’t trust a brand, they won’t buy, and then any strategy isn’t helpful. Now, a marketing strategy can be immensely helpful, but only if you’ve put in the work building trust.
A strategy that may not have the perfect imagery but prioritizes open communication and industry knowledge is far better than one that has perfect imagery but lackluster content, thus not building trust.
Remember That Social Media Is a Two-Way Street
Instead of the classic “always be selling”, try “always be communicating”. A small business can’t grow if they’re so focused on posting that they aren’t communicating with their audience. Always remember to respond to comments, answer Direct Messages, and favorite reposts in a timely manner so that current and potential customers know that you care.
When in Doubt, Keep It Simple
Even the flashiest marketing strategy can’t compete with a simple, well-executed marketing strategy. You may want four brand videos and six perfectly curated posts a week, but do you have the resources to complete it? Will it be understood by your audience?
If you’re ever wondering if you should simplify your social media presence, the answer is probably a “yes”. Focus on what you can do well, and the rest will follow.
Create a Unique Personality Based on Your Brand
Do you stand out online? Maybe? Consider the brands that do. Most are the ones who are highly unique. Let’s go back to our Lemonade example. They still sell a “boring” product. But their brand is unique and has a personality of its own.
You can do the same thing. Whether you’re selling insurance, real estate, or something else entirely, you can get creative and enhance your brand in a way that your ideal consumer will relate to.
Most companies only focus on responding to customer service inquiries on social media, and even then, they often don’t respond in a timely manner. Challenge you and your team to check all social media platforms that you’re on three times a day, and respond to more than just the complaints.
If someone tags you in an Instagram story and proclaims their love for your product, respond! Thank them for sharing, and you can even offer a “surprise and delight” offer like 15% off their next order. Building these relationships through responsiveness on social media is one of the most under looked yet important parts about thriving online.
Remember the Golden Rule
Even if you like something, your followers may not. Use the Golden Rule to develop content that your audience will enjoy so that they continue to engage with your content and, potentially, buy your product or service. If a piece of content helps them in the way you would like content to help you, then you’re in a good place.
Budget Your Time
Unfortunately, time is not an endless resource. This is particularly true for small teams! In order to budget your time effectively on social media, prioritize your best performing platforms. These are the ones that will help you grow the fastest, and fewer platforms means less time spent each week on social media.
Invest in a Scheduling Tool
While you don’t need every tool around for an effective social media presence, a scheduling tool is always a worthwhile investment. This is particularly true if you focus on Instagram, which doesn’t offer an on-platform way to schedule content.
Scheduling content is basically the one true form of multi-tasking. Schedule out a week or a month’s worth of posts, then get back to other tasks while the tool publishes your posts for you. We like Contentino, but platforms like Hootsuite and Buffer are also good options.
Rotate Hashtags Regularly
Hashtags, particularly on Instagram, are an art form. You want to make sure you’re using hashtags that are relevant to the post, while also being something that people will search and engage with. Even though you’re posting similar content, you want to make sure to rotate your hashtags every post so that you continue to reach as many accounts as possible.
These don’t have to be completely unique; rotating two to five each post will do while keeping your core hashtags the same.
Perform Monthly Reporting to Track Growth
Are you really growing each month, or are you assuming? Monthly reporting on your social media accounts will keep you on track with your goals, as well as monitoring different metrics to see what is and isn’t working.
We recommend focusing on the number of purchases or leads attributed to social media, followers, engagement rate, and traffic to the website from social. These can all help you discover what your current and potential customers like, helping you better connect with them moving forward.
Curate Articles to Decrease Your Workload
Just like with Unsplash photos, curating articles from other sources is a valuable way to decrease your workload while still sharing regularly on social media. Share articles your customer persona would find interesting, and include your insights in the caption so you add value, too.
Be sure to choose articles from websites that aren’t your direct competitor. Professional organizations and non-competitor business blogs are both viable options.
Give More Than You Receive
Social media is a long-term strategy. People very often aren’t going to buy from you the first time they see your post or start following your account. In order to build the trust required for that purchase, you need to give more than you receive.
Provide free content like blogs and infographics that help your audience improve their lives. Over time, you’ll build that trust and stay top-of-mind when they need your product.
Don’t Wait for Perfect
It’s tempting to want to wait until you have a perfectly organized strategy to begin sharing on social media. However, it’s also better to just start posting! Test out one type of curated content for 30 days, see the results, and then adjust if needed.
The best way to test is by doing, so this month, start sharing before you think you’re ready and see what happens. You could have a successful strategy on your hands that you never would have known if you kept waiting.
Use Pop Culture to Generate Buzz
Making pop culture references is a common choice for many brands online, and for good reason. It works! It ties into relevant conversations and increases the number of people who see your content and brand.
However, it can also go too far. Take time to consider whether the joke or reference is on brand, culturally appropriate, and adds to the conversation. If you answer “no” to any of those questions, don’t post.
Know Your KPIs
Your KPIs, or Key Performance Indicators, are the metrics that you choose to watch and base success off of. We recommend sticking to one or two, because you want a focused strategy and different KPIs mean different marketing techniques.
Common KPIs for social media include engagement rate (number of comments and likes/number of followers X 100) and page likes or follows, though we recommend focusing on website traffic from social rather than page likes or follows because it’s more actionable data.
It shows what content people are interested in while driving more people to your website, where you can gather email addresses and encourage purchases.
Revisit Your Strategy Regularly
Marketing strategies aren’t “one and done”. They’re a living support system that helps you reach your goals online. We recommend revisiting this at least every six months. During this review, look at what content performed well, what didn’t, and if there was anything that wasn’t completed because of time or resource constraints.
Then you can start developing the plan for the next six months based on that data and the ensuing insights.
Consider Outsourcing Your Social Media Management
As we’ve discussed, social media marketing is an ever-changing field that requires a significant time commitment to do it correctly. In order to grow online while also growing your business, oftentimes the best decision is to outsource.
Baccus shares, “bringing on a dedicated social media team means that you can focus on what you do best while maintaining a great online presence.” Remember to hire a team that has case studies and a proven track record of success so that your investment makes returns.
Remember, Everyone Is Sharing a Highlight Reel
“Social media is a highlight reel” is for more than individuals. It’s for brands, too. It’s easy to focus on what other brands are doing on social and to compare yourselves to their best content. But they have branding questions and content struggles, too.
Once you begin to reframe how you view other companies, you can begin to focus on what really matters: building a connection with your current and potential customers. Not another company’s.
Do You Need Help With Your Social Media?
We hope these 35 social media tips for small businesses have inspired you to recreate your company online. If you’re ready to take the next step and partner with an agency experienced in taking small businesses to their next goal, let’s chat. Give us a call at (415) 640-8009 or (404) 600-3884.
By Marc Apple
Marc Apple is recognized as a leader in the marketing industry and has 20+ years of experience helping businesses of all sizes improve their digital marketing. He specializes in website design, SEO, social media, and paid search programs. He is a frequent contributor to other marketing websites and speaks regularly about marketing to small business owners and startups. To learn about Marc and to contact him, visit his author bio page.
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