When I discovered social media, it seemed like the perfect way to promote my business. “This is just too easy,” I thought. “I can pitch thousands of people without spending a dime or cold calling.”
It didn’t take long for me to learn that social media marketing isn’t like cold calling. It’s much more difficult. But there is a way to promote your brand on social media and get results.
In this post, you will learn:
- the mistakes most businesses struggle with social media marketing
- the only time you should pay for social media ads
- how to choose the right social media platform(s) for your business
- the best type of content are best for each social media channel
Why Many Small Businesses Struggle with Social Media Marketing
People don’t go on social media to buy things, but social media impacts shopping behavior. And brands
To be successful with social media marketing, you must know how people think when they are on it. Keep in mind, it’s social. Most users log on to see their friends’ posts, catch up on current events, or pass the time.
Social media channels are free, making it easy to put your offer in front of a large potential audience. But it’s not the ideal selling environment. You will stay frustrated with the lack of response if you plan to sell something all the time.
Self-promotion is the reason many small businesses struggle to make social media work.
There was a time when people would respond to almost any post. Not anymore. Your posts must have a purpose, and creating “valuable content” isn’t easy.
Social channels have become saturated, and the average life span of a post is six hours. This timeframe makes it challenging to get your content in front of a large group of people on a routine basis.
What works on one platform won’t work on another. The Facebook post that got lots of engagement may not get any traction on LinkedIn.
Each social media channel has a unique audience. So even when the same people are on multiple platforms, they use each one differently.
Engagement on social is more natural for some than others, which is true in most social settings. But for most of us, social media won’t come easy. It will take more effort to reach our target audiences and build a following.
It’s tempting to jump on social media and start posting, but it helps to have goals. So, start by thinking about what you want to do.
When it comes to social media marketing, most businesses have at least one of the following goals:
- Create brand awareness
- Get new customers (lead generation)
- Service current customers and get them to buy more
Each one of these requires a different approach. First, pick one, develop a strategy for it, and put it into action. Then, once you begin to make progress toward that goal, move to the next one.
For example, start using social media to service current customers. Once that is working well, add a brand awareness strategy. When you begin to see results, launch a lead generation campaign. You may do these in any order you choose, but lead generation is the most difficult of the three. So, it’s best to have a solid social media presence before you start a lead-gen strategy.
Organic Reach vs. Paid Advertising
There are two ways to reach your audience on social media.
The first is organic reach. Many small businesses prefer this approach because it’s free.
The goal is to build a following of target customers, hoping that some of them will buy from you. To keep your brand fresh and interesting, you must create a variety of content.
Some examples are:
- Live events
- A behind-the-scenes look at your company
- Customer testimonials
- Industry news
- Brand-related content (such as articles and press releases)
- Quick tip videos
- Polls and surveys
It’s worth experimenting with any content or topic that may interest your audience. You never know what people will like. Make sure all content you create aligns with your brand.
The best way to find out what people want is to ask them. Use surveys to figure out what kind of content your audience wants to see (video, articles). Or ask them what topics they care about most.
Start with no more than two channels and build momentum before moving to another. It’s common for one platform to work better than others. However, you’ll be more successful using the one that is conducive to your business and audience.
Only a tiny percentage of followers will see your posts. As an example, about 5% of your Facebook followers see your content via organic reach. The number of followers that receive your posts varies on each platform.
It takes time and patience to build a following organically on social media. At some point, it may be necessary to make a financial investment to build your audience.
Paid advertising is another way to reach your target market on social media channels.
By comparison, social media ads are cheaper than other forms of advertising. Unfortunately, it’s also easy to waste money on ads that don’t work. If you plan to run paid ads, start small until you figure out what works.
Which one is best for your business?
It’s best to have an organic social media presence before running paid ads. Why?
Because most users will go to your profile after they see your ad. They do this out of curiosity and to confirm that your business is legitimate. If they don’t see much activity when visiting your profile, they may hesitate to buy from you. When people see a business that is active on social media, they tend to trust it more. And trust is a primary buying factor.
Social Media Marketing for Small Business and Brand Awareness
Many small businesses question how practical brand awareness is. But 8 out of 10 people buy from familiar brands. So, a brand awareness strategy is a great way to make yourself available to new customers.
To build brand awareness on social media, you must know where your customers are.
Are they on Facebook? LinkedIn? Instagram? Once you know, you can develop a content strategy that is right for the platform. Now, let’s look at the major social media channels and what content works best on each.
Social Media Marketing: Facebook
Facebook appeals to the broadest audience. It’s also the largest, with 2.5 billion active monthly users. Since Facebook is the most used platform, it’s the most popular one for social media marketing.
But it’s getting tougher to reach users for free on Facebook. Fortunately, Facebook advertising is easy to use. There are a lot of targeting options, and the ads manager is intuitive. If you’re new to paid advertising and want to experiment, Facebook is the best place to start.
Most forms of content work well on Facebook, including video, photos, and text. Attaching images to posts increases the likelihood that people will take notice. Try several types of content to find what gets the most response from your audience.
Avoid getting too serious or business-like. A casual tone works best on Facebook.
Be sure to create a page for your business as well. Facebook discourages the use of a personal profile for business purposes. A business page is the best way to promote your offers.
Many people wonder which days and times are best for posting and how often. Facebook is an active platform every day, so there isn’t an ideal time to post. However, this report shows that posting more than five times per week reduces engagement.
Social Media Marketing: Instagram
Instagram has become another popular social media platform. It’s an excellent channel for brands that rely on visuals to promote and make sales.
Posting photos and videos of customers using your product work well on Instagram. You can also share short stories about your business using images and video. As with all visuals, make sure they reflect your brand identity.
It’s best to post at least once, but no more than ten times per day.
Social Media Marketing: LinkedIn
LinkedIn has 700 million active users and is the best platform for the B2B market.
A lot of business-related content makes it bland or generic, so try to be unique. For example, use humor or find ways to tie your content to current events. Use stories to illustrate the importance of your business’s product or service.
Like all social media, video and imagery will generate more interest and engagement. LinkedIn articles are easy to create and share. They drive traffic to your profile and build a following for your business page.
Post no more than once per day. Users are more active on weekdays, which means you can take Saturdays and Sundays off.
Social Media Marketing: Twitter
Twitter hosts more conversations than on any other platform.
Since posts cannot be longer than 280 characters, creativity is a must. Twitter is an excellent channel for brief announcements about you or your company. Supplying research reports and data or sharing promotions also works well.
An effective way to build an audience on Twitter is to comment on others’ conversations.
The life span of a “tweet” is somewhere around 15-20 minutes. So, try for at least three tweets each day. Active brands post as many as fifteen tweets or more every day.
Social Media Marketing: Pinterest
Of all the social media platforms, I prefer Pinterest. Why?
People go on Pinterest for a variety of reasons. But when they do, all content they view relates to their specific interest. Rather than scrolling through a newsfeed, Pinterest users search to find content. The search dynamic makes it easier to reach an audience that is already interested in your topic.
Much like Instagram, Pinterest content is visual. Focus on helpful information, inspiration, and tips. You can also link content to your website or landing page.
Pinterest “pins” take a little more work to create but are worth the effort. Canva has dozens of templates that make pin creation easy.
Pin at least three times, but not more than 30 pins per day. Once you create and post a pin, it has an indefinite life span, which means users can share it many times over.
Social Media Marketing: YouTube
YouTube is the second-largest search engine on the Internet. It’s hard to ignore this platform, given the popularity of video content.
The content that performs best on YouTube shows expertise or product superiority. Testimonials, product use, how-to, or thought leadership are examples. Case studies and live interaction videos work well too. Make everything easy to share, and be sure to request viewers to subscribe to your channel.
Like all other social media platforms, posting consistency is essential. For YouTube, try to post a video at least once per week.
Some people try too hard to create social media content that will “go viral”. But you never know how people will respond to something you post. So, relax and have fun with social media marketing.
Don’t try to do too much. Instead, experiment until you find content that resonates with your audience.
Most of all, be human. Unfortunately, many businesses fail to personalize themselves online.
People buy from companies and salespeople they know, like, and trust. So, the best way to connect with your target audience is to be relevant and relatable. A brand-building strategy can help you grow your business, especially on social media. If you need help, email me personally at email@example.com.
Until next time,
Learn more about brand strategy.
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