Why Social Media Still Matters For Small Business
Even after unprecedented global events, we’re still bullish on small business.
As a small business it’s always better to have more ways to communicate with your customers rather than less. Social media is social, but it’s also a critical way to stay in touch with your people and keep them connected to your brand and business.
You need to position your business to benefit from some of that socially driven buying intent.
There’s no reason to spread yourself too thin by having accounts on every platform but knowing where your ideal customers hang out online is the best way to maximize your social media time.
Your social media accounts are also a microcosm of what’s happening locally and they’re a great place for you to gather insights and feedback that can help you run your business more effectively and improve your customer experience both virtually and in person.
Shop Local Matters More than Ever
One thing everyone can agree on, small businesses contribute to their community in more ways than one. Your small business keeps more money in the community and in turn, you share your good fortune with charities and other programs that improve the quality of life for all residents.
When parents are sitting on the sidelines, cheering on their daughter’s softball team and they see the sponsorship logo of the local orthodontist, connections are formed. People get curious about your business, and they make a mental note to check you out online.
A strong social media presence keeps that engagement going. Your pages and profiles give you a place to share about your business, talk about products or services, answer questions, or respond to reviews.
Social Media Can Help Reduce Overall Advertising Costs
Even with advertising options available on all the major social platforms, you can get a lot of positive free branding exposure on social media. If you decide to run paid ads for your business, having good word of mouth and name recognition drives down advertising costs.
Plus, local businesses can capitalize on the local connection. Since your customers likely know you and want to see your business succeed, they’re more likely to leave reviews or post other user generated content that works like advertising does to attract new customers.
By sharing a balance of promotional content with fun, informational posts, you can develop a steady stream of business while keeping your potential ad costs controlled.
Social Media Works Best with a Flexible Plan
It’s easy – and free – to get started on social media. You can create a Facebook page, or Twitter profile, or even an Instagram account for your business.
But you shouldn’t start without a plan. Don’t spread yourself (or your message) too thin by getting on every platform.
Think about the goals you want to achieve and how much time you can reasonably invest in maintaining your profiles. If you don’t have a plan to engage your followers on social media you won’t be able to measure if you’re getting positive ROI (return on investment) from the time spent.
Having a social media calendar might sound like the exact opposite of staying flexible, but as a busy business owner you don’t have the bandwidth to be in creative mode every single time you hop on social media. Also, having a social media calendar in place helps you cover your most important topics and share your promotions while keeping a good mix between informing, entertaining, promoting, and selling.
How to Know Your Social Media Plan is Working
When you’re thinking about the time to invest in social media and calculating ROI it can be tempting to latch onto vanity metrics like follower counts and likes. Those things might make you feel good, but they may not tell the whole story about how much social media is contributing to your business and the bottom line.
A small, engaged audience is far more of a boost to your small business than a huge follower count filled with people who never visit your store or engage with your posts.
Give your social profiles time to attract attention so you can truly judge the value of your pages and profiles in terms of actual profits.
Social Media is a Way to Grow Your Network
Building a business takes networking. But if you’re responsible for building your business and running your business, it can get hard to get out to in-person events and meet-ups to widen your network. This is another place where social networking can be a huge benefit to busy small business owners.
Connect with other business owners in your community online. Reach out to businesses that do what you do in different communities. Share ideas. When you connect and collaborate with other business owners who might have similar customers, you can share each other’s social posts and promote the other to your audience. Do you own a tea shop? Cross-promote with a bakery or ceramics studio that sells cool mugs.
Social media is a great way to widen your sphere of influence and discover opportunities to share what you do with new audiences.
Social Media Lets You Put Your Personality on Your Business
First, customers come for what you offer. But customers stay because of you. And there’s nowhere better than social media to turn your business’ pages and profiles into a circle of friends.
Social media is also where you can firmly establish the brand voice for your business. Display your personality in the same way you display the goods and services you sell.
You worked hard to develop a specific customer persona and you should put the same effort into developing a brand persona for your business.
Brand voice guides can be complex, or you can put a quick one together by asking yourself a few simple questions and jotting down the answers:
- What are five adjectives that describe your tone of voice? (serious, funny, nerdy)
- When you aren’t running your business, what are you doing?
- What matters to you?
- What other businesses in town do you support?
- What are topics you won’t ever comment on?
Your brand personality dictates your branding guidelines and it’s what brings that authentic flavor to your social media posts. Knowing who you are as a brand also means that if you decide to hire a social media manager, you’ve got a working brand voice document to share with them.
Make your brand’s persona part of your branding guidelines and let your unique personality shine in your posts. People do business with people, so don’t be afraid to use social media to connect with your customers.
Hashtags on Social Media Can Attract New Customers
It’s crazy how effective hashtags are for widening your audience on social media and attracting new people to your small business. By using the right blend of popular, memorable, and unique hashtags you can get more eyes and more buzz building in your community.
Choosing hashtags is part of building your overall branding or marketing strategy. It’s smart to create an association between terms your ideal customers are already looking for online and putting some energy into building engagement around branded or specialized hashtags.
Hashtags always kick off with a #, but no spaces or punctuation marks can be included.
Keep them punchy and relevant. Too obscure and no one will find it. Think about things your customer is looking for and jump on those trending tags.
As your audience grows, you may see community members creating hashtags for things that matter to them. Embrace the energy of user-generated hashtags as your audience and reach expands.
Hashtags can be a great way to get people feeling included in your community.
Social Media is the Best Free Market Research Tool
Wondering why people buy your products? Need more insights about what motivates your ideal customers? Social media is essentially the best market research tool out there.
By getting curious on social media, you can get critical information that can help you make informed decisions about product lines or promotions that will attract customers like bees to honey.
Use polls, ask questions. Social media is a great way to solicit feedback and show your customers that their opinions matter to you. When customers feel involved in the decision-making process, they feel more brand loyalty.
Great marketers and savvy business owners know it’s easier to sell your services when you enter the conversation your ideal client is already having about the problems you solve for them.
Social listening can give you insights into challenges, pain points, and most importantly, the actual words your prospective clients use to describe their wants, needs, and secret desires.
Everything you can discover about what your ideal clients say when they are hanging out online will help you market your business more effectively.
Using these insights to further perfect your core messaging makes your content marketing and paid advertisements even more powerful.
Put the “Social” in Social Media
Now that you’ve seen the benefits of social media as a research tool, join into the chats people are having on social media. When you ask questions, stick around, and stay in the conversation.
Social media isn’t a “set it and forget it” marketing channel.
Too many comments and customer service inquiries go unanswered on social media and your potential customers notice the communication gaps. Showing up shows you’re different than other businesses.
The social media strategy for your business should include time each day – even if it’s only 10 or 15 minutes – to respond to comments, questions, and reviews.
That personal touch is going to set you apart from your competitors.
Social Media Helps You Stay Ahead of the Competition
Every smart business owner knows what their competition is up to. If your top competitors are on social media, you must be on social media too. While it’s never wise to copy what your competitors are doing on social media – after all, you have your own unique voice – it’s helpful to research what is resonating and see how you can make a similar post work for your business.
Seeing what works and what doesn’t can save you a lot of time. By observing what others are doing, you reduce your learning curve and will see positive results more quickly.
The other benefit of social is increased visibility off the social platforms. While social media isn’t a direct ranking signal for search engines like Google, having an engaging social presence causes followers to check out your website which increases the chances they’ll purchase from you.
Pro tip: Get inspiration from outside your industry. After you check out the competition, seek out some social media inspiration from other industries. You might find something that would be a perfect post for your business in an unlikely place.
Social Media Helps You Grow Your Business and Connect with Customers
With 37% of Americans saying they are trying to shop local, it’s a great time to get into – or back to – social media as a way to grow your business. Having more ways to communicate with your customers gives you more opportunities to support your community while supporting your own business goals.
Figure out which platforms make the most sense for you and your ideal customers and balance that with the time you can invest in keeping your profiles fresh and up to date. With every post you make, you can learn more about your customers and your competition.
Social media is still one of the most effective ways to achieve your marketing goals.
Social media increases the visibility of your business and with smart promotions and your growing network, you will see the time spent on social media turning into dollars spent at your business.