July 4, 2017
Marketing  |  8 min read

Social Media Basics for Every Small Business

With one-in-seven people using it, social media is the perfect way to attract and engage with your potential customers.  While, yes, there are ads on social media, the fact is, your audience is not all that into interruption marketing.  Like most aspects of human interaction, social is relationship-based. This means you need to engage with your audience, drawing them in by being interesting and easy to find, if you ever expect them to buy from you. To build your audience and engage with them, follow these must-do basics.

Follow buttons on your site

Your website is the best place to attract new followers. The fact that someone’s on your website shows a level of interest in your brand, your products and services, and your content in general. Make it super deluxe easy for them to connect with you on social by adding follow buttons on every page of your site. Don’t be pushy, just make it easy for someone to follow you if they want to. This is the first step to building a devoted fan base.

Add relevant hashtags to posts and profiles

Hashtags identify your profile or posts with certain topics. For example, if you manage a B2B sales consulting firm, you may want to add the hashtags #b2b and #b2bsales to your Twitter profile description. That way, when Twitter users search for profiles related to #b2bsales, you will appear in the search results. In the same way, by adding a hashtag to your posts, they will show up in search results for that hashtag. Some hashtags are searched on a daily basis, while others get no traffic. Like keyword research for your website, identifying relevant hashtags for your business takes some time and experimentation.

Post contagious content

Social networks make it easy for your fans and followers to pass your message on to their own friends and connections through shares, retweets, and repin options. If you craft shareable content, your message can spread beyond your immediate fans and followers to new, interested followers.

Post brand-relevant content

While it might sound obvious, it’s a faux pas you don’t want to make: using your branded social profile like a personal profile. Even if your face and name make up your brand, it’s still a brand. Be hyper-conscious of what your fans are looking for and why they follow you and keep your posts on brand.

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Post content that fits the channel

One of the biggest challenges for small business marketing is finding time to actually do the marketing. The result is that many businesses cut corners on social media in the interest of time. They post the exact same post on every channel because it’s easier. Unbeknownst to them, this could actually be hurting their social media efforts. Not all channels are created equal, and you can’t treat them that way. LinkedIn and Facebook are vastly different spaces. And While some content crosses over (Instagram, for example, can cross over nicely with Facebook and Twitter), the actual posts may not always work so well on multiple channels.

Pay attention to the way each channel works and look at the analytics to see what content on each of your channels does well and make adjustments. If it sounds like too much work, then focus on your strongest channel and reduce your efforts on other channels. It’s better to be a master of one than a master of none.

Interact with individuals

Guess what? It’s called “social” media for a reason. Social isn’t a “set-it-and-forget-it” kind of environment. You’ve got to interact with the people who are interacting with you. Genuine interaction can help you rise above the clutter on social networks. Make sure your interactions are thoughtful and relevant to the topic. Refrain from self-promotion or engaging in negative stuff.

Join and interact with groups and organizations

Getting involved in social media groups and organizations is a great way for business owners or sales staff to network with potential customers; however, self-promotion is usually discouraged.  Instead, provide valuable information that also introduces group members to your business and the solutions you provide.

Use social to grow your list

As you build a social audience that wants to interact with your brand, you’ll want to engage with them in a more direct manner that’s more likely to nudge them toward a purchase. Keeping in mind the tips above (providing content that fits the channel, is useful and interesting, etc.), there are some tried and true offers that you can sprinkle into your feed and leave on your social profiles that give your audience an opportunity to both offer up their contact information and receive something that benefits them in return. This is called a lead magnet, and it’s a beautiful thing. Below are some examples of lead magnets you can use:

Run a giveaway

You can generate buzz around your products by offering a free sample, or upgrade for a limited time. Giveaways help you attract more attention, as entrants spread the news of the giveaway to friends and connections. Just make sure you have enough to go around. You don’t want someone to sign up, only to be told that you’ve run out.

Run a contest

Like giveaways, contests can generate a lot of buzz. Especially if the prize is exciting. Winning can be based on a number of votes an entrant receives, rather than a random drawing. This is a powerful incentive that gets people sharing the promotion and opportunity to win.

Offer a freebie

Freebies, aka lead magnets, like e-books, newsletters, and white papers are great incentives in exchange for users’ contact information. You can either promote the offer through ads or share them with your current fans and followers, just make sure they provide value by addressing your audience’s real needs with viable solutions.

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Offer a discount

A flash sale, that is a limited time offer for a discount on your product, encourages potential customers to become valuable leads. A good way to keep those leads after they’ve received their discount is to offer future promotions—this could be done via a newsletter that offers future discounts and sales incentives, or it could be a loyalty rewards program.

Make sure to do ads the right way

Finally, organic social is an absolute imperative, but you can’t live on organic alone. You’ll need to learn the basic mechanics of advertising on social media to get started, but once you’re up and running, you’ll have the most effective strategy when you can track interactions and target the right audience with your ads. This will help you bring back the highest ROI on your efforts.  

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