As a small business owner, you have a lot on your plate. That makes the subject of social media marketing seem like nothing more than another side dish. Beyond having a Facebook, YouTube, Twitter or Pinterest site, what is social media marketing, from a small business perspective? Does it work? The answer is a definite, yes.
A 2019 survey found that about 75% of small businesses in the U.S. choose social media as an effective, go-to marketing strategy. Almost two-thirds plan to increase spending on social media this year.
Whether you own a dress shop, a law firm, restaurant or plumbing company, social media is still a cornerstone of the most successful low-budget marketing programs for small business. It’s a relatively simple way to tap into real customers, real stories and your genuine community.
From user-generated content to influencer marketing and beyond, taking advantage of the wealth of underutilized opportunities in your social media tool belt can be a simple, cost-effective way to grow your business. Here are four easy ways to do it:
It’s not just millennials taking over the marketplace anymore. Now Generation Z is entering the workplace this year. And both demographics care about authentic stories.
One way you can quench their thirst for information is to share, retweet or like images and videos that speak to you and your customers. Not only does these build relationships with your customers and within your industry, but it’s also a quick, free, easy way to provide content without even having to create it.
It’s still important to generate unique content as much as possible. But how? It’s different for every business, but the strategy is the same.
For example, if you own a restaurant, an image of your latest culinary creation with well-written, enticing description is an easy grab.
Own a plumbing company? Create a simple, well-crafted, how-to video on prepping your home for winter.
Are you an attorney? Ask clients to say a few heartfelt words on camera about their experiences with you (see #2 below).
These are examples of low-hanging fruit that any small business can utilize to connect with customers, while also showing their human side.
We’ve all heard about the millionaire social-media influencers on YouTube whose word is gold for large corporations. Influencer marketing isn’t just for big brands with big budgets. You have influencers all around you. They may come in the form of existing customers who are willing to be brand advocates. They may even be family and friends.
The good news is many people in your inner circle and beyond are happy to sing your praises publicly, and when they do, be sure to use it to your advantage. Others, like fellow business owners who use your product, may be willing to do it for trade, or in exchange for getting invites to an upcoming event. Engaging people and building relationships are key.
Here’s an example of simple, easy-to-create social media content that your influencers can provide:
A community has always been the place where small businesses can gain a home-field advantage over the big guys. In reality, you live and work here, giving you unique insight into the needs and wants of your neighbors.
From sponsoring local sports teams to volunteering to participate in charity events, a community is the hallmark of successful small businesses. But what about your brand community?
Your brand community is also a great place to boost your social media presence. It’s a digital place where people/customers meet to talk shop, ask and answer questions, review things and learn more. Think of them as customer service for the customer by the customer. And they generate a ton of their own branded content.
You don’t need a big, flashy platform to find sharable user-generated content. Your customers—or potential customers—are probably already involved in forums related to your products, user groups, Facebook groups, and real-life communities that pertain to your business. Find those places, follow prospects on social media, talk to people, get inspiration for content and re-share on your channels. Heart, re-share, re-tweet, follow back, etc.
There’s a reason why 92% of brands decided to boost their spends on paid social media ads last year. Chiefly, because it works. A recent survey found that when consumers follow brands on social, 67% are more likely to increase their spending with that brand.
Paid social media doesn’t have to break the bank. You can set your budget on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, or any social channels you prefer. Spending appropriately turns them into smart platforms that will allow you to fine-tune your audiences by demographics, location, interests, places of work and even job titles. The key eventually is to get specific about the target audience, run a campaign, test content, learn, and keep going.
The more specific your ad targeting is, the more expensive your campaign is because it reaches the customers you want most. For example, if you’re a plastic surgeon specializing in mommy makeovers, your audience is only women, and only mothers, of a certain age, and, likely, a certain income level.
If you’re a plumber with a less-specific demographic, a more broad-reaching campaign with fewer parameters and less spend may be the right choice. As you get more experienced, you may find smaller niche targets that make a more significant impact on your bottom line.
Social media, whether it’s organic or paid, is an effective and relatively low-cost way for small business to reach their most coveted customers. Include a good mix of user-generated content from clients, shoppers, community members and friends. Combine that with paid campaigns and influencer marketing from loyal customers. All of it works together to help increase your reach, boost your bottom line, and grow your small business.
If you’re interested in learning more best practices for small business digital marketing, check out How to build a small paid search strategy and The Complete Guide to Content Marketing.