Every business starts small! Companies around the world are posting images of where they began and where they are now, most of their growth is down to social media presence.

Take the fast fashion company Pretty Little Thing for example, their brand exemplifies the power of social media.

In just seven years the brand now has 10 million followers on Instagram alone!

Over the years they have mastered the social media game, all because they know their audience interests down to a T.

Calling all small business owners… If you want to learn how to strategize your social media presence to attract similar successes, then keep reading!

If you are struggling with social media recognition or you aren’t sure where to start when planning a social media campaign, look no further.

This post explains everything you need to know about understanding social media from the perspective of a small but thriving business.

At CB Digital we understand the importance of being able to establish your business on social media platforms. We strive to bring our clients story to life through engaging and original content.

We also track, measure and optimise our client’s profiles to ensure remarkable results.

Source: Twitter @NastyGal

Source: Twitter @OfficialPLT

Social media is one of the largest industries in the world, there are currently 3.8 billion active social media users across the globe.

Social platforms connect business to business, stranger to stranger and friend to friend. It is such a versatile platform which can perform in so many different ways. But, for a small business it could be the defining element between success and failure.

Social media allows you to develop long lasting relationships with customers. It is now, more than ever, rooted in marketing because it drives traffic to your website or products.

It offers 24/7 assistance to customers and builds and maintains brand reputation. Social media fuels a strong contact database which is invaluable in the marketing world.

There are over 25 million Instagram business accounts worldwide with 80% of average users following one or multiple business or brand accounts.

These statistics might seem quite daunting for small business owners. You are probably thinking, how is my brand going to get recognised when there are so many people battling for the same recognition?  

With the Coronavirus pandemic and lockdown restrictions continuing to affect the world, so many industries are dependent on social media. It has become an essential marketing tool for all business types.

Social media is a competitive place if you do not understand how to use it.

After reading this post I am hoping you will feel more confident in your ability to come up with a clear social media strategy which will ensure your businesses profile gets the acknowledgement it deserves.

Here are my top 10 tips on understanding social media from a small business’s perspective:

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1. MAKE SURE TO START WITH A PLAN

Like most things, I would always suggest starting with a plan. It is so important to clearly understand what you want to get out of having a digital presence.

Do you want to attract a wider audience to your brand, are you trying to increase sales, are you wanting to attract endorsements…? Once you know what your aims and goals are the strategy will be a lot easier to create.

HubSpot Academy recommend following the SMART guide when planning a social media strategy. Ensure you plan is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely. They believe that if your plan demonstrates all of these points the likelihood of success is very high. 

One of the biggest components to recognise before setting up any social media platforms is the buying persona of your brand.

Understand who you want to reach by looking into the demographics of your target audience. Details including the age range, their shared interests will ensure you decide the best platforms for your brand.

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2. SET GOALS AND OBJECTIVES

I suggest setting business goals and objectives at the planning stage; however, they should be revisited every 2-3 months to ensure your targets are being met. 

Your goals and objectives should include KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) which will evaluate the success of your profiles. 

Social Media KPIs should look at the reach which includes followers and mentions. It also evaluates the engagement on your profiles, the retention and loyalty of your customers and the ROI (Return on Investment).

Your goals might also consider whether you want your brand to go international and what impact your social media will have on your business. 

It is difficult to clearly distinguish a link between your social media platforms and return on investment to begin with and it might take some time to do so. However, social media successes do not happen overnight, and the long-term benefits are definitely worth it! 

It is important to know the benefits so they can be identified and congratulated when achieved.

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3. RESEARCH YOUR COMPETITORS

Every business is different and as I have mentioned it is important to identify your individual goals and objectives. However, for example, if certain content is proving successful for your competitors consider how you could reflect this success in your own campaign.

It is important to not get distracted by your competitors, do not get obsessed with what they are doing. Instead think about what you’re not doing.

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4. CREATE A SOCIAL MEDIA CALENDAR

In order to crack social algorithms, it is a good idea to schedule your uploads at the same time.

I find that 7am, 12pm and 4pm on Monday to Saturday are times that work well in terms of reach and engagement.

Apps such as Later are useful tools that allow you to schedule your uploads. This therefore means you do not have to worry about posting at a specific time.

Consistency is key! 

This also allows your community to stay up to date because they’ll know and be able to track your posts and updates.

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5. UNDERSTAND WHICH PLATFORMS BEST REACH YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE

The main social media apps businesses tend to use are Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram. 

Instagram has one billion users at the average age of 18 – 24 years old. The story feature has 500 million uploads posted every day and the third most viewed are business publications. 

Facebook has more than 2.45 billion users however rates have declined in recent years. The reason it is still hugely beneficial to businesses is due to their Ad and group tools. There are 400 million users who are linked to a group. Groups help build a captive audience and allow you to connect to your target consumer market. 

Twitter has 330 million users and there are more than 500 million tweets published every day. Tweets are instant and help engage with audience questions, queries or complaints.

Linked In has more than 706 million users and is predominantly a B2B (business to business) platform. I recommend all businesses to have a Linked In profile because it is beneficial for research, networking, driving traffic to your website and finding out more about prospective investors and/or clients.

Other platforms including Pinterest, YouTube, Snapchat and TikTok are also useful apps to look into. Everyone consumes information differently which is why it is crucial to identify which apps best suit your target market.

Once you have reached your target audience through your chosen platforms, it would be productive to consider expanding your audience through different social media platforms to gain a wider reach.

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 6. BUILD RELATIONSHIPS WITH YOUR DIGITAL CUSTOMERS

There are real-life people on either side of the screen and personalisation goes a long way when growing your brand and developing a strong reputation. 

Be friendly and relatable whilst maintaining a professional presence.

One way to continue driving traffic whilst building relationships is to use active and call to action terminology in your responses, such as download, register, subscribe.

This gives a human element to your brand which is important because people want to talk to people, not a robot! 

By doing so you are increasing the loyalty of your customers, adding value to your brand, maintaining a good reputation and amplifying your reach.

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7. ALWAYS USE VISUALS

Every business has a story to tell through imagery, and you are more likely to capture your audience by doing so. 

Be creative in how you tell your story by using searchable topics such as national days, influencer content and giveaways.

You have less than 3 seconds to engage a potential customer, this is why it is important for your content to be informative, entertaining and connected. By connected I mean be part of a global conversation, make sure that your content is relevant.

Video content creates huge amounts of traffic. Statistics show that by 2022 82% of consumer traffic will come from short-form video. 

Videos can include animated GIFs which are shareable and searchable.

Other ways of being creative with content is live videos which showcase the personality of your brand. Similarly, Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat stories attract a wider audience. 

As well as videos and pictures, audience interactivity is very rewarding. Quizzes, surveys and polls encourage customer engagement and boost brand recognition. 

Don’t be afraid to experiment with a multi-media approach. 

I would recommend using some sort of visual in every post. 

Whilst consistency is a key factor when using visuals, it is also important to ensure your posts are high quality and reflect your business in a professional style.

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8. MONITOR SOCIAL CONVERSATIONS

Building a relationship with your audience through interaction in social conversations is key. This helps you to manage your reputation, determine new avenues of product development and get ahead of competitors.

Statistics show that 48% of customers are more likely to make a purchase with brands who are responsive on social media. 

Therefore, it is essential to be actively looking for mentions and conversations about your business in order to discover what type of content works best, identify gaps in the industry that you could fill and measure campaign success. 

It is also a nice touch to be part of the conversations which aren’t always about your brand. Reply to comments about social trends which relate to your brand or help potential customer enquiries. 

56% of customers unfollow a brand if they deliver poor social media service and 40% of users expect a response within an hour. Whether the customer is complaining, asking a question or simply commenting on your brand it is important to reply promptly. 

However, when it comes to complaints, use your initiative to understand whether the complaint can be dealt with on a public platform or whether it is more sensible to direct the customer to email you where you can provide a more personal response.   

An added tip to keep track of conversations is to create a hashtag for your brand. This way every time someone mentions your business you have more of a chance of seeing and responding to it.

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9. MIX UP YOUR CONTENT!

Don’t flood your feed with promotional content.

It is recommended that 80% of your feed is dedicated to your audiences’ interests and only 20% of it is promotional content.

These statistics aren’t set in stone and a 50/50 split might work better for you; however, this is why it is so important to analyse your target market so your content can be relatable. 

If you aren’t sure what content would interest your audience, ask them! This offers additional value to your page because you are interacting with your followers.

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10. TELL PEOPLE WHY THEY NEED YOUR BUSINESS 

This nicely leads on to my last piece of advice…

Don’t tell people how great your product or services are, instead tell people why they both want and need your business. 

Always focus on why instead of what. It is important for people to understand what you do; however, the sales will come from you telling people why they should commit to your brand. 

You have your website to inform your customers. Use your social media platforms to interact, interest and involve.

I hope this article has been useful and given you an insight into how social media can be one of the most valuable assets in a marketing campaign.

It is a daunting process; however, persistency is key, and you will see results in the long run.

As time goes on identify which types of content worked well, understand what content works on each platform and whether you are attracting your desired buying persona.

Remember social media is free and you won’t have access to its database anywhere else!

Thank you for reading this article and good luck in your social media journey! Let me know what you think via our social media platforms which are linked below…

 

Credit to Hootsuite & HubSpot

Elizabeth Price

Elizabeth Price

Marketing Communications Manager

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CB Digital Nottingham Marketing Agency