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Small Business Tips

How to Use Social Media to Market Your Small Business

Victoria Morrison
Engaging with social media

Social media is a versatile tool you can use to raise brand awareness and increase sales. However, the art of social media management can be tedious and hard to master, especially if you are already doing everything else for your small business.  Looking to grow your social media accounts to drive sales, or merely wondering how you can use social media to market your small business? Keep reading for our top 10 social media strategies for small business owners.

1. Commit to your social media strategy

Managing your social media accounts can be time-consuming. But, if you're looking to expand your business and increase sales, it can also be a free source of marketing. By committing to be active on social media every day, you'll keep your audience engaged, growing, and thinking about your brand.  A great way to ensure you don't skimp on your social media activities is to plan your posts in advance. For example, consider dedicating a batch of time to creating all of the social media content you will post throughout the week.  Try to do this when you're feeling outstandingly creative. For some people, this will be Monday morning. For others, it will be Friday afternoon.  The bottom line is, getting organized will help you create high-quality content. And because the social media sphere is so saturated, high-quality content can help you get an edge over your competitors.  So what does quality content look like? Think of well-written long-form blog posts with compelling graphics you can share on Instagram or Facebook to alert your audience of said posts. You might also consider posting pictures of your team or workspace, or time-lapse videos of yourself at work.

2. Set clear goals

Make these goals as actionable as possible. For instance, if you want to increase people's awareness of your brand, make sure you have a precise idea of what that means.  More specifically, you might be aiming for a certain number of likes per tweet or Instagram post, or maybe you would like to increase the number of people who visit your website on a monthly basis. Setting S.M.A.R.T. goals can help you here.

3. Share content that's authentic and engaging

Social media is meant to be a human, social experience. In other words, you should share your personal thoughts, feelings and experiences. Show people who you are and let your audience see what makes you unique.  If you are selling a product or a service, you should tell people what's great about what you have to sell. But you can also share posts about your employees, your values, and your passions. Sharing non-marketing details are the type of content that will entice people to follow you.  For example, if you run a restaurant and you're passionate about haute cuisine, don't be shy to share a meal you recently enjoyed, even if someone else prepared it. Do you do any volunteer or charity work? You can post about that too. Also, just sharing a beautiful scene, you saw on your break or on your way to work, will help people relate to you, which in turn can help increase brand awareness.  Try to let your personality shine through in your posts. Are you a lighthearted person who loves to laugh? Don't be afraid to be funny! Are you passionate about sports? Share your excitement with your audience.  The more you interact with your followers, the more they'll engage with you. These are the types of relationships that will keep you in your potential clients' minds. Accordingly, people will be more likely to think of you the next time they need your products or services.  

Shot of a diverse group of people social networking outside

4. Pay attention to customer feedback

If you're going to do social media right, you need to think of it as an exchange. Which means that your feed isn't just about putting out content; it's also about engaging with your followers and your community. Interacting with your audience will help you understand what your customers want and how you can serve them better.  For example, if you have a t-shirt business, potential customers might give you ideas for new designs. They may also request specific sizes you may not carry.  When someone engages with you, it's always a good idea to reply. By acknowledging your follower's feedback, positive comments or ideas, it shows your appreciation. In turn, this will cultivate a climate of respect that encourages people to support you.  If your followers tend to ask a lot of questions on social media, you might consider answering them in the context of blog posts. Addressing common problems is a great way to create additional content that will help drive traffic to your website. It will also save you time by preventing you from answering the same questions over and over.

5. Don't spread yourself too thin

Try to focus on developing an upstanding presence on one or two social networks. A strong reputation is preferable to having a weak presence everywhere.  Not sure how Snapchat works but love Facebook? Focus on the latter! Managing your social media accounts will be that much less of a chore if you can spend time on one or two networks you enjoy rather than trying to cultivate a presence everywhere.  Creating a lot of great content on one network will also be more valuable to your brand than publishing sparse content all over the place. Besides, focusing on one channel at a time will give you a chance to master all of the nuances of the platform. Once you've mastered the art of promoting your business on the channel of your choice, you'll also save a lot of time as coming up with great content will become second nature.  

screenshot of smartphone and social media icons

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6. Automate your posts

There are scores of automation tools that will post social media content for you on a timer. Buffer is one option you can use to schedule social media posts.  You can also use Canva to create quick graphics to accompany blog posts or get people's attention on Facebook or Instagram, or Animoto to create videos. The more tasks you can automate, the more time you will have to focus on your actual business.

7. Create a social media calendar and follow it

Setting up a social media calendar involves outlining major company events that you can share with your followers to create engagement. If your business is still in the start-up phase, the act of sitting down and figuring out your social media calendar can also be a great way to brainstorm social media posts.  So what are some fundamental elements that you might include in your social media calendar? Think product launches, company milestones, and major holidays. Once you've outlined the events you want to highlight, think of ways you might underscore them.  Highlighting a significant event or milestone can involve creating a short YouTube video and posting it on Facebook, or posting a thematic selfie on Snapchat or Instagram (i.e., you wearing a Santa hat in December). The possibilities are endless here, so try to think outside the box, or check out what some of your favourite companies are doing to get inspired. The more versatile you are, the more engagement you're likely to generate.

8. Post content that lights you up

In addition to posting about your products, services, and daily life at work, you can also branch out. For example, this might look like posting a series of drawings or cartoons you think are hilarious and likely to resonate with your clients.  You can get thematic here, too. For example, if you are promoting a copy editing business, post examples of common grammar mistakes and explain how to correct them. Posting memes can be a decent way to create engagement as well.  When it comes to social media, engagement is a by-product of strong content. Which is why you should post content that plays to your passions. Whether you achieve this by showcasing your products or being funny or inspirational, high engagement can help you to generate more sales.

9. Follow companies you love

When you use a social media platform like Instagram or Twitter, you shouldn't just focus on getting followers and selling to them; you should also find great people to follow.  There are a few reasons to do this. The first is that bigger companies that have more time and money to devote to developing social media content can help you come up with great ideas for your social media feed. You can also increase your social media presence by reposting content that another company has created (if you do this, make sure to credit your source!).  Correspondingly, liking and commenting on posts created by like-minded businesses and individuals can help potential customers discover your products or services.  From this perspective, avoid using bots to follow people in hopes that they will follow you back. If you have a disproportionate follower ratio (i.e., you follow way more accounts than you have followers), you could get caught in a negative feedback loop where users will assume you're only on social media to gain followers. As a result, people will be less likely to follow you, and that is a discouraging prospect!  When it comes to running a successful social media game, focus on being authentic and growing your following organically. Prioritize quality over quantity. The reward will be worth the effort.

Little girl playing with digital tablet and colorful emoticon displayed on the screen taken from above

10. Remember your niche

If you try to be all things to all people, you'll likely miss the mark on showcasing your expertise. Whether your passion is fixing bikes, graphic design, or teaching English, focus on what you're strengths! This emphasis will help contribute to the quality of your social media presence.  Positioning yourself as an expert in your field will give your followers a reason to revisit your profile on a regular basis. As a knowledgeable resource, you remain on people's minds. Meaning your potential customers will be more likely to think of you the next time they have an interest in what you have to sell.

The value of social media for small businesses

In short, social media takes work, but it can also help drive sales to your business. To make social media marketing work for you, give some thought about your posts in advance. Create engaging content you are passionate about, and pre-schedule your posts.  If you don't have time to focus on social media management for your business, consider hiring an intern or outsourcing the job to a social media agency. Whichever route you decide to take, remaining active on social media is a great way to increase brand awareness and stay in touch with your customers.

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