Finding out how to market your small business on social media is one of the first things you should do when starting the outreach process. It’s where everyone is. And to get in front of them, it will only cost you a little time and creativity.
Of course, those are not things that come cheaply. It could be in your best interests to hire a social media manager. But before doing that, it’s best to learn the ins and outs so you at least you know what you’re paying for. Here are some ways you can do that.
Choose a Platform
When consulting a small business or non-profit organization regarding their social media use, it’s always best to direct them towards a single platform. Most choose Facebook. That’s not necessarily my suggestion, though there’s a good chance it’s the one with which you have the most familiarity.
Familiarity is good when using social media to market your small business because it helps you focus more on messaging and strategy than whether you’re doing the technical stuff correctly. That said, there are plenty of valid reasons to hate Facebook. And if you do, that’s okay. You can, and should, pursue other social media options.
Once you’ve chosen that single platform to start your marketing efforts, get comfortable with the types of content you’re going to post. This includes recurring features, upcoming events, bits of human interest, promotions, etc.
Furthermore, get comfortable with what you can do with that post (i.e., adding images, videos, creating albums, slideshows, polls, etc.). Additionally, get a feel for the vibe of the platform. What do people typically use it for? Some common uses:
- Airing political grievances
- Sharing cat videos
- Giving opinions on movies, music, books, or what they’re watching on TV
- Uploading their family photos
- Talking about their gym workouts
- Cataloging the recipes they’d like to try out
Also, what’s the attitude? Is it largely supportive or snarky and sarcastic?
When you’ve studied your platform-of-choice thoroughly and are completely comfortable using it, it’s time to move on to another.
Let’s say you’ve achieved the same level of comfort with your first two platforms. What next?
The short answer
Along the way, make sure you’re keeping your eyes peeled on emerging platforms. Your children or students you have access to can be a great source for knowing what these platforms are. TikTok is one to keep your eye on in 2019.
Now that we’ve covered those bases, here are some activities that will help move your small business forward on each platform.
1. Answer Comments
As your comfort level with each social network increases, so too will the activity levels surrounding your content. People will ask more questions, make more comments, or offer helpful criticisms/suggestions. (Though not always in the most helpful of ways.)
Find a balance between content generation and back-and-forth communication. Show you’re approachable, responsive, and professional, and generally, you’ll get the same in return.
2. Generate Discussion
To get the ball rolling on comments, you’ll want to post content that helps generate discussion. Think about your posts with a call to action in mind (CTA in marketing-speak).
Let’s say you run a Chipotlé-style restaurant that focuses on made-to-order burritos. Maybe you could find a picture of the world’s largest burrito and post it to your social media channels. Then ask: if we offered this at our restaurant, how many of you would eat it?
What industry do you specialize in? What is a related news item or photo or video already out there that would get your followers talking? Dress it up with a CTA and see what happens.
3. Run Offers
One way local small businesses get their customers talking — and referring — is by making special offers and giveaways. An “offer you can’t refuse,” you might say. It could be 20 percent off everyday prices, BOGOs, or sharing a post to enter a contest.
This can work whether you sell a:
- Product: Buy 2, get the third book free; spend $100, get 20 percent off; enter now for a chance to win a free Kindle!
- Service: Share this post and be entered to win a free landscaping service; this month only roof replacement, 30 percent off!
People love deals. They love free stuff. And they will help you use social media to grow your small business if you can deliver it to them.
4. Spotlight Your Community
This works especially well with small businesses. Just go out and get involved in the community. You don’t have to hock merchandise or skills. You don’t even have to turn into a salesman.
Simply show up at community events. Invite yourself. Bring a camera and take a few pictures. Then, start posting those images (or videos) with a thoughtful message. Tag the people you photographed/videoed. Tag their employers and any mutual friends.
Before long, the Likes, Shares, and Comments will take over. And while it may not have any immediate direct impact on your business, it will help you make a splash in the area where your customers are most likely to live and work. That will pay dividends soon enough.
Use Strategy to Market Your Small Business on Social Media
The work it takes to have a competent social media presence for your small business may seem intimidating on the surface. But it’s definitely worth it when you see and feel the results. Still, doing it right may take time and energy you can’t spare. And when that happens, I want you to let me know. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.