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.”
I quickly learned 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.
When you finish reading, you will know:
- Why many small businesses struggle with social media marketing
- Paid versus organic social media marketing
- How to make social media fun and profitable
- How to choose the right social media platform(s) for your business
- What types of content are best for each social media platform
Why Many Small Businesses Struggle with Social Media Marketing
Here’s the conundrum: people don’t go on social media to buy things. But people buy things on social media.
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 makes it easy to put your offer in front of a large potential audience. But it is not the ideal selling environment. You will likely stay frustrated if you always lead with your business, product, or service.
Self-promotion is the reason many small businesses struggle to make it work for them.
There was a time when people would respond to just about any post. Not anymore. Your posts must have a purpose, and creating valuable content regularly isn’t easy.
Social channels have become saturated. In addition, the average life span of a post is six hours, which makes it more 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. Do you think the Facebook post that got lots of engagement will work on LinkedIn? Think again.
Each social channel has a different audience. So even when the same people are on multiple platforms, they use each one differently.
Engagement on social media comes more naturally for some than for others, which is true in most social settings. However, if you have the skill and desire to engage, it will be easier to promote your business on social media.
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 won’t be easy to achieve much without having 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. Pick one, develop a strategy for it, and put it into action. 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 build awareness, launch a lead generation strategy.
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 exciting, 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 to connect it to your brand to all content you create.
The best way to find out what people want is to ask them. Try posting questions on your social media profiles to determine what kind of content your audience would like to see (video, articles). Or ask them what topics they care about most.
Start with no more than two platforms and build momentum before moving to another. It’s common for one platform to work better for your business than others.
When posting organically, only a tiny percentage of people will see your content. As an example, organic reach on Facebook is limited to about 5% of your followers. The number of followers that see your posts varies on each platform.
It takes time and patience to build a following on social media through organic reach. At some point, it may be necessary to make a financial investment to build your following.
Paid advertising is another way to reach your target audience on social media.
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 ads, start small until you find what works.
Social Media Marketing 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 start developing a content strategy that fits the platform.
Now, let’s look briefly at the primary 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 roughly 2.5 billion active monthly users. Since Facebook is the most popular 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 want to dip your toe in the water and experiment with social media ads, 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 different 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 using 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 each week causes engagement to drop.
Social Media Marketing: Instagram
Instagram has become a popular and growing social media platform. It’s a great channel for brands that want to use a lot of visuals.
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 any visuals, make sure all of them align with your brand identity.
It is best to post at least once, but no more than ten times per day.
Social Media Marketing: LinkedIn
If you’re in the B2B market, LinkedIn is the social media platform for you. With over 700 million active users, it is the best platform for professional services.
Sharing business-related content makes it easy to be boring or generic. Instead, try to be unique. 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 personal profile and build a following for your business page.
Post no more than one time per day. Users are more active on weekdays, so you can take Saturdays and Sundays off.
Social Media Marketing: Twitter
More conversations take place on Twitter than on any other platform. There are over 330 million active Twitter users. (President Trump may be its most famous participant.)
Since posts are limited to 280 characters, you must creative. This platform is great for brief announcements about you or your company. Providing 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 per 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, almost all content they view relates to a specific interest. Rather than scrolling through a newsfeed, Pinterest users search for content. This makes it much easier to reach your target audience with content they are looking for.
Much like Instagram, Pinterest content is visual. Focus on helpful information, provide inspiration, and tips. You can also link content to your website or landing page.
Pinterest “pins” takes a little more work but are worth the effort. Canva has dozens of templates that makes pin creation easy.
Post at least 3 times, but not more than 30 pins each day. The good news is that once you create and post a pin, it has an indefinite life span and can be shared many times over.
Social Media Marketing: YouTube
YouTube is the second-largest search engine on the Internet and has over two billion subscribers. It’s hard to ignore this platform considering given the popularity of video content.
The video content that performs the best on YouTube demonstrates 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 important. 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”. The truth is 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. Keep experimenting until you find content that resonates with your audience.
But more importantly, you must be human. Unfortunately, many small businesses don’t do a good job of personalizing 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 relatable.
A brand-building strategy helps you in every area of your business, especially on social media platforms.
If you need help with this, email me personally at email@example.com.
Until next time,