Social media marketing can seem a little daunting at times. With careers and businesses being built on providing it as a service, it can really make DIY social media marketing seem like a bit of a lost cause, but fear not! There are small steps that you may not have even thought of that will improve your chances of making a splash online. In this blog, we will look at different ways small businesses can benefit from social media marketing.
Social media has grown as an advertising tool for businesses of all sizes, in fact for small businesses alone, there are over 50 million Facebook pages being used to connect with customers, and that’s just Facebook! There are so many social media platforms out there that small businesses can use, it’s just simply using it to your advantage that you need to keep in mind.
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One of the first ways that small businesses can benefit from social media marketing is realising when enough is enough. It can be tempting to post as much as you can to make the most of the content at hand, or to really drill down on something that you want to promote. However, being selective when it comes to social media is what is going to improve your content. Mostly this is something a lot of people will be aware of, and on occasions, the reverse might be true, where people need to start posting more and stop neglecting their platforms! Nonetheless, it's still something to keep in mind.
It’s also worth taking the time to sit down with your social media or marketing team and work out what kind of content you want to put out, what voice do you want your company to have? Sticking to a brand guideline and a social media schedule is a great way to ensure that your content is regular and consistent. You can also use each platforms insights or analytics tool to determine the points in the day where your content is engaged with the most and then structure your content schedule around this, to really allow you to target your followers when they’re online.
Take a look at this blog by Hubspot which will give you some information on the best days and times to post on social media, you can also check out this article by RivalIQ, in it, they discuss all the benchmark figures across key industries. From this, you will be able to gain some insight into your industry's average posts per day, popular hashtags and average engagement rate.
Make the most of your media
The media you use in a post has a huge impact on its future success and it could be the smallest of issues that are preventing it from reaching its full potential. Media comes in a few formats: images, videos and links, and ensuring that they are presented in the best possible manner is the key to having eye-catching and aesthetically pleasing posts. Let’s start with links.
Links are a valuable addition to any social media content (except Instagram, which doesn't allow links in the copy, only the profile bio), in fact, link clicks account for 92% of all Tweet interaction. Not only do they bring the addition of media to your post, but they also provide a road straight to whatever page on your website you want people to land on. As a rule, it’s good to include a link with most of your posts (even if they have another media element to them), it makes it as easy as possible to lead people onto your website. One thing that people forget though, is that links come with content of their own. Take a look at the two examples below.
As you can see both of these links are quite different. One has a large striking image and the other has a small pixelated image. If you were scrolling through Facebook and came across these posts, which one would you click on? Where you can, take the steps to have larger link imagery on social media, check out this article from Buffer, you will be able to find out all the correct social media sizes for imagery, including link images, for the 6 major social media platforms.
Moving on to images themselves, much like the link imagery, each platform has a different pairing of pixels that make up the perfect sizing for their newsfeed. It can sometimes mean resizing different images for different platforms, but the end result will be worth it. Again, use the Buffer article linked above to really nail that sizing.
However, one thing that we notice frequently on social media is the use of poor quality imagery, and this could relate to things out-with imagery that is blurry and too small. From text heavy imagery to overly staged stock photography, there is an abundance of pitfalls when it comes to imagery use. Our key tips are:
- Use less text - Text heavy imagery can be off-putting, if you must use text, use it wisely and sparingly. Facebook alone has a 20% rule that restricts the reach of your ad if the text content of your image goes above 20%. Instead, focus on good imagery and keep the text to the copy above, allowing the image to do the initial eye-catching. This brings us on to our next point.
- Use stock imagery, but make sure it's good - Not all stock imagery is over the top and heavily choreographed. There is a multitude of options out there for you to use when it comes to royalty-free imagery. Pexels, Pixabay and Unsplash are good options to make use of.
- Focus on the details - small changes and slight alterations to imagery can do wonders for improvement. Take a look at your competitors, what do they do? Can you do it better? One small change can take you from social media white noise to the loudest post on the newsfeed.
- Keep your eye on your audience - you have an audience and demographics for a reason, it allows you to stay in tune with the people who are buying what you’re selling. Try not to reach too widely outside of your target market if you are doing ad content, you might find that your efforts don’t pay off.
From gifs to actual video content, media that moves really does reel people in. By implementing video content, you are increasing your chances of web clicks, reach and engagement. Much like imagery, video use for social media marketing comes with sizing specifics, which you can view on this Sprout Social blog.
In fact, between the years of 2016 and 2017, the use of video on Facebook alone rose by 258% and a tweet with a video is six times more likely to be retweeted when compared to a photo tweet. So as you can see, video really is worth the effort.
There has been a surge in pages that feature mainly video content, with a lot of them being DIY or recipe-based, like Buzzfeed Tasty. Online video content is even a way to make a living, with ‘vlogger's literally rising to celebrity status in recent years. It doesn't matter what you offer or what you're into, there is a video theme that suits almost every taste: warm and fuzzy, funny, informative, fun and personal. Whatever your taste though, keep in mind that 85% of videos on social media are watched on mute, so captions or exciting graphics may be required to rack up those views.
However, small businesses may not have the budget for big and bold video content, however, you can make something small and make something with impact. Just ensure that it is shot well on a good quality camera, edited professionally (or by someone who at least knows what they are doing) and it fits within the allotted time for each social channel.
Focus on the features
With the popularity of social media being at its peak, there are countless add-ons and features for each and every social channel. From ‘Instagram stories’ to ‘Twitter polls’ there are so many things to take advantage of. Before you settle on which channels you will be using for your business, find out what each one of them offers, is there something there that you could be taking serious advantage of?
Let's use Instagram Stories as an example. With Instagram's algorithm going non-chronological, it left people unsettled about missing posts on their timelines. However, Instagram stories are better at allowing to keep track of what's been posted through that element of the app. Meaning people have been using it as a social media marketing tool more and more, and this is something that really could benefit small businesses who are trying to reach people in new and interactive ways. Let's take a look at an example from one of our clients, Chase Distillery, below.
As you can see, Chase has used the stories feature well. They have some great imagery, tagged a relevant account, used a relevant hashtag, used a little bit of text to inform people of the reason for the post (the opening of their pop up bar) and used the location feature, all while making it look very aesthetically pleasing. In other posts, they have even used the swipe up function, which allows viewers to swipe up and be taken to a page on the website that the business wants them to land on. In the case below, it was to enter a Royal Wedding competition.
Instagram Stories are a great method of getting people engaged with your content, you can even let them know through that, that you have a new post up, encouraging them to go and engage with it. It can also be used as an advertising platform, allowing your interactive story to be seen and engaged with by more people. It's simple and easy to use, and honestly, it's a little bit addictive…
As we said, there are multiple platforms with multiple different add-ons, shop around before you invest your time into one alone.
Ponder on paying
Focusing in on Facebook initially, with a number of changes to its algorithm over the last year, seeing any notable success may mean you have to supplement your content with paid for advertising. Only between 2-6% of organic posts appear in users' feeds, which can be frustrating, however, the targeting options and the opportunity presented through advertising on Facebook are unparalleled. It's an ideal way to get a good return on investment with relatively low costs attached.
Facebook advertising also accommodates various ad options, you can boost posts directly from the newsfeed and there is also the option to utilise the ads manager. Ads manager allows you to run carousel ads, video ads and image-based ads with a variety of goal paths (web clicks, conversions, engagement etc). You can target a specific audience by using interests, pages people like, gender, age and even location (right down to the postcode or co-ordinates!). Instagram also runs from the Facebook ads manager too, allowing you to advertise across both platforms with the one add and budget. There is also the option to implement Facebook's audience network, which would mean you ad could appear on various other websites or apps that are affiliated with Facebook, you really are getting a lot of reach for your money. If you know your target market, Facebook advertising is a great way to get your name out there. If you want a little more insight, try our blog here.
Twitter and LinkedIn also have advertising options, however, they are arguably not as sophisticated as Facebook's ad platform, although they do boast their own bonuses. Like Twitters look-a-like function, allowing you to target people who follow or are likely to follow certain accounts on the platform, and LinkedIn's in mailing function that lets you pay for messages to be sent directly to the inbox of the audience members you are targeting.
They’re all varied, so again, read up and make your decision based on the ones that suit you best.
Update and inform
As we have stressed, keeping up regular content is so important, flitting between periods of posting content and neglecting your page entirely makes you forgettable to your followers. Use your social media as a news outlet for your own company, if you have a new member of the team or an event coming up, keep your followers updated and informed.
Small businesses have the benefit of being small, meaning they can be a bit more personal with their online presence and making it easier to keep people updated with the goings-on and big news of the company. This more personal touch, allowing people to see a little more granularly into your business, is a great way to get people interested in you, people love to see what people are doing and this is something all small businesses should take advantage of in their social media marketing. Show people photos of your team lunches, nights out and birthdays, keep them in the loop and celebrate your team when they excel and hit career goals (like awards and recognition). It shows your company to be a warm, welcoming and just generally a more approachable business.
Also keep in mind that if you do have something big coming up, you can use your social media to promote it, whether that’s organically with Facebook event pages, allowing you to track interest and attendees, or whether that’s by boosting it to the audience you want to target. Don’t forget that you can also boost an event to an audience, two birds, one stone!
Updating and informing extends to other elements of your channels as well. Many times we have seen businesses with outdated contact information or links on their pages. This makes it harder for potential customers or clients to reach you through your social media. Keep your about section up to date at all times and ensure that there are no issues with your contact information, you don’t want to be missing any opportunities. This includes any add-ons to your about section, we once completed a social media audit for a restaurant and on their Facebook page they had a viewable PDF of their menu. This is a great addition to a food businesses Facebook as it makes it easier for people to access the information they will want to see, however, the menu listed was out of date, showing options that were no longer on their most recent menu. There’s nothing worse than getting to a restaurant with a particular meal in mind, only to be disappointed when they don’t have it. Keep everything up to date at all times to avoid disappointment on both ends!
Overall, social media is a great place for small businesses to make the most of digital marketing. There is a multitude of options and even the advertising fees are likely the lowest you will get anywhere else, online or otherwise. However, it's down to you to make the most of it and to utilise it in the best way to benefit your business. It may take some testing and a little time to get the ball rolling really well but a great social presence can do wonders for your business.