As a small business, you need to be savvy and make the most of the advantages you have over your larger competitors. One of those advantages is your ability to build personal relationships. Being small makes it much easier for potential customers to see the people behind your business. And it’s true what they say: People do business with people. So, with the right approach, social media for small business can be even more powerful than it is for the big players in your industry.
You can use this advantage to build real relationships and an audience of loyal clients. As a marketing tool, social media for small business allows you to amplify this effect. You can engage with a number of people at once while still retaining this personal feel. It just requires some careful management.
How Social Media Helps Your Small Business
There are lots of reasons why social media marketing is vital to your business success.
Of course, it’s a great way of raising your brand profile and getting known but that works two ways. Being present on social media will also help you to get to know your clients. You can listen to their problems and needs and ask them for their feedback on your products and services. Invaluable market research.
Social media also gives you the opportunity to reach a whole new circle of people, the friends of your customers. Every person on social media will have their own network of connections who can see what they like and listen to what they have to say. This is social proof and it’s a massive factor in people’s buying decisions. If there’s a choice between two brands, we’re much more likely to go with the one recommended by people we already know and trust.
Another reason that social media is a great marketing choice for a small business is that it is cost-effective. Nurturing relationships and building a following does take time. But the investment is relatively small and much more targeted compared to more traditional approaches such as print advertising.
Which Social Media Platform Is Best for Small Business?
The big question! One thing that is often in very short supply in a small business is your time. You can’t be everywhere all the time. So it’s better to choose one or two social platforms and do them well. Don’t spread yourself too thinly.
Which to choose depends on your product or services and who you are trying to reach. For example, do you sell to individuals (B2C) or other businesses (B2B)?
The most far-reaching platform. Facebook can be good for any B2C businesses but particularly if you are targeting an older demographic. Facebook can also be great for niche businesses because there are so many special interest groups.
Another platform with a very wide reach but a younger overall audience than Facebook. Essential for targeting millennials. Great for B2C businesses, particularly if you sell something highly visual like flowers or food. It’s also popular for lifestyle-related businesses such as health, wellness, beauty and travel.
The more business-oriented social platform. LinkedIn is generally good for B2B and for some businesses B2C, particularly if your target market is professionals. When people are on LinkedIn, they are much more receptive to educational or career-boosting content. But they still want to unwind, too: no one’s “working” 100% of the time.
Twitter can be used for B2B or B2C and is a good platform for reaching a broad, internet-savvy audience. It’s more limited than the other platforms by the restriction on tweet length. But there are lots of opportunities for getting involved in existing conversations and building relationships. As far as engagement goes, it’s one of the top platforms. And it’s one of the easiest to start conversations with new people.
Pinterest can be a fantastic platform for B2C businesses. Especially if your business is related to crafts and hobbies. Or has a lifestyle element, such as cooking, travel or beauty. In many ways, Pinterest is more like a search engine than the other social media platforms. And if it’s well-used it can drive a lot of traffic to your website. Not only immediately, but for months and years to come. (In comparison, the average half-life of a Tweet is less than 20 minutes.)
7 Essential Social Media Tips for Small Business
A lot of the same factors that make social media great for small business can also make it challenging. Like any marketing, it has pros and cons. If you follow these 7 steps you won’t go far wrong.
1. Start with a plan – Our number one piece of advice: Be strategic. Start by deciding what you want to achieve from the time you spend on social media. Then make a plan to get there.
2. Choose one or two platforms to focus on – We’ve talked about this one already. Devote your resources to building a good presence on one or two channels. You can always add more further down the line.
3. Know who you are speaking to – Be clear about who your ideal client is. You can give them a name and a backstory if you want. Now every time you post on social media imagine you’re talking to that one person. You’ll be surprised at how much easier this can make it.
4. Build relationships – Never forget the social in social media. This is not the place to be doing the hard sell. Focus on building relationships and the sales will follow. Don’t just post and run; remember to respond to comments and engage with your community as well.
5. Give your fans opportunities to help you – If people love your brand, they will want to support you. Make the most of it! Ask people to share your content, support your campaigns and give you feedback.
6. Be yourself – Don’t try to be something you’re not on social media. It’s hard to keep up and will make it harder to form genuine relationships. Whether you are B2B or B2C, social media is about people interacting with people.
7. Measure results – Take time to review your results periodically and use this information to refine your social media strategy. One of the beauties of social media is how agile it is. If something works well one week, you can do more of it the next week. If it stops working so well, you can change tack again.
For more tips, check out our 10 social media mistakes and how to avoid them.
How Can Social Media Benefit My Small Business?
You’re probably convinced by now that social media has something to offer your small business. If you’d like to have a chat about how specifically it could work for you, book a free social media consultation.