How do I use social media to grow my small business?
Today’s lesson is for the small business owner. You may have an ecommerce store, you may be third-party seller on Amazon or Ebay, or you may have a local brick and mortar location. Regardless of what business structure you have, social media can help your small business grow.
After reading this lesson, you will learn:
The importance of having a content marketing strategy
What social media networks to use and what benefits they offer
Three marketing strategies to grow your business using social media
Before social media comes content marketing
It is not enough to have a social media presence. Millions of businesses have discovered how easy it is to fail at social media marketing. The antidote to ineffective marketing on Facebook, Instagram, and other social platforms is relevant content.
Content marketing is educating or entertaining your buyers using video, audio, and written content with the intention of creating enough good karma that buyers choose you and your products because they know and trust you.
The secret to content marketing is understanding your buyer. What information is your buyer searching for online? What pages does your buyer like on Facebook? Who does your buyer follow on Instagram? What do your buyer pin on Pinterest? All of this information is freely available. As a small business owner, you must take the time to understand your buyer’s digital life.
Having this understanding will help you create relevant content for each social media channel. Let’s understand the most popular social media channels.
Social Media Channels for Small Business Marketing
Facebook is today’s biggest and most used social media platform. The biggest user base is comprised of the 25-34 age group, but just about everyone has and uses a Facebook profile. Chances are a Facebook Business page should be the first social accounts you create.
Key benefits Facebook offers small business marketers:
Facebook Advertising is a very sophisticated advertising platform that allows you to target your ideal customer according to location, interests, and consumer behaviors.
Facebook Groups are online communities formed around diverse topics and areas of interest. Business pages may not join Facebook groups, but small business owners may join using their personal Facebook pages and share content from their business pages.
Video Content on Facebook allow users can watch videos without leaving the Facebook ecosystem. Today, Facebook competes against YouTube for video consumption. If you can create video content, upload your videos directly to Facebook.
Instagram was born as and remains a visual social media platform. It empowers the average person to channel their inner photographer by providing an online gallery to showcase their photos as well as edit them using Instagram’s filter technology.
Although creating artistic photography of your product or service may not be an option, Instagram offers small business owners the opportunity to connect directly with individual buyers and buyer influencers.
Direct messages allow you to message anyone with an Instagram account. A small business may use this to message both buyers and influencers. More on influencers later on in the article…
Instagram hashtags help you find buyers and key influencers who are posting photos and videos related to your space.
Twitter continues to be the place people share their .02. If you are a small business owner, use Twitter Search to discover conversations related to your product and service.
Similar to Instagram, Twitter hashtags allow you to directly message – or Tweet – users experiencing a problem your product or service can solve. It’s a great place to create awareness and provide value.
Twitter Search allows you to quickly find and join conversations relevant to your product or service.
YouTube is a video-only platform. YouTube users tend to prefer longer, in-depth videos such as how-to guides and reviews, full episodes of relevant shows, and interviews. If you are a small business owner, here is a question to ask before starting a YouTube channel:
“What kind of show can I create that would be interesting to my ideal buyer?”
Pinterest is both a place to save (or pin) interesting content as well as discover new content. Pinterest is a visual platform that uses photos and videos. It is skewed towards women, many of whom use the platform with intent to purchase.
If you are a small business, creating Pinterest content that lands at the top of search results can grow your business and create enormous awareness. Nearly 200 million users use the platform each month. Here are some key benefits of Pinterest for small businesses:
Pinterest Search is used very much like Google search. Results are in the form of most pinned (or saved) content.
Intent to Purchase means users use the platform to find products and ideas from interior design shopping for an outfit. If you have an online store or sell a physical product, Pinterest should be a social media platform you consider.
Should I automate my social media marketing?
Social media marketing on all of these platforms takes time. Machine-learning automation of manual marketing processes allows you to distribute content faster. If you’d like to learn more about automating your social media marketing, click here to read about our content marketing solution for small businesses.
Three Social Media Strategies for Small Business
If you are a small business owner who hasn’t yet invested sufficient time and resources into social media marketing, here are three strategies we recommend to grow your business. They are Instagram influencer marketing, Twitter marketing, and Facebook advertising.
A. Influencer marketing
An influencer is an individual (or a page) with a large following. Influencers can be bloggers, vloggers, athletes, and general interest community accounts. Buyers pay close attention to what influencers in their world do, what clothes they wear, what products they use, and what places they visit.
Many influencers have built successful businesses promoting products that align with their personal brands and are useful to their audiences. To grow your small business, pay (or barter) with influencers to promote your product, service, or location to their followers.
Although it is recommended, you don’t need an Instagram account to get started with influencer marketing. Here’s how to start:
1. Identify key influencers
See who your buyers are following by manually clicking on their followers. Influencer research tools are another option. Many are available, and most are not free.
The idea here is to create a list of influencers who have an audience of people who can use your product or service. As you create this list, keep in mind the most important metric is engagement and not the number of followers. Higher engagement means your advertisement is more likely to be seen.
Before moving onto step 2, create a list of 50-100 influencers relevant to your space.
** Insert screenshot of list of influencers **
2. Prepare unique offers for each influencer
Using your list, understand each influencer’s audience and brand. For influencer marketing to work, you must bring each influencer’s audience value. What kind of offer can you put together for each influencer?
Understanding each influencer’s business will allow you to speak their language and differentiate yourself from other brands and products. Your next step after understanding your target influencers is to contact them with your offer.
3. Ask each influencer about pricing for promoted products
To contact an influencer, you can contact them directly using Instagram’s direct messaging feature (an Instagram account is required for this) or using the email listed in their profile. Many influencers include a promotional inquiry email as part of their Instagram profiles.
Being respectful of their time, your email or message should be short and to the point. Here is an example:
“Hi INFLUENCER NAME,
We love what you’re doing. Would you be interested in reviewing our PRODUCT in a promoted post? You can review it honestly, we think you’ll love it, and we want your audience to connect with it without a script.
Please let me know. We would like to offer your audience OFFER.
** Insert image of DM/email asking for influencer pricing **
4. Negotiate pricing and track each post
Once you start hearing from influencers interested in promoting your product, you will need to determine how much you’re willing to pay for promoted posts. Influencer fees will vary and your marketing budget will determine which influencers are a right fit for your campaign.
To track sales lift and website traffic generated from each influencer post, use different trackable links for each influencer using Google Tag Manager. For discount offers to your online store, use a unique discount code for each influencer. If you are working with a manageable number of influencers, consider creating a separate landing page for each influencer’s audience.
B. Twitter conversations
Small business marketing is all about going door to door to build personal connections with potential buyers. Using Twitter for your social media marketing efforts allows you to multiply these one-on-one conversations in the digital space.
Twitter is used by millions of people who share the minutiae of their lives. You can find and jump into relevant conversations and share valuable opinions and feedback. But just as you wouldn’t try to sell something to somebody in person when you first speak to them, you don’t want to push your product or service on somebody talking about a related topic. Instead, provide advice, kudos, even encouragement. Your Twitter profile will have all the information those who find your Tweets need to find you and your product or service.
You will need to have a company Twitter account for this to work. Here is how to start using Twitter for your small business marketing:
1. Navigate to search.twitter.com. You will have the option of searching for hashtags, phrases, and locations. Spend time searching Twitter for relevant conversations. You will begin finding users who are potential buyers.
2. Like their relevant and recent tweets, follow them, and tweet them response. Be helpful by sharing advice, feedback, or simple acknowledgments.
3. Rinse and repeat, ad infinitum. The idea here is to build personal connections. Unlike influencer marketing, you won’t see an immediate and measurable lift in sales. But over time, as your tweets provide value and help people, just like going door to door often results in sales months after connecting with a buyer, your engagements will being to pay off.
C. Facebook advertising campaign
A Facebook ad campaign will show a very targeted group of buyers a Facebook post or video from your Facebook business page. If you are a small business, one of the best marketing investments you can make is to use Facebook ads to create awareness about your product or service.
The key to an effective Facebook campaign is context. Because you can target a very specific buyer, your advertisement can speak to them and only them. Your ad can include words, locations, and visual cues your buyer is familiar with. If you have an online store, you can pay Facebook to show specific products to specific buyer groups.
To run a Facebook advertising campaign, you will need to have a Facebook Business page. We have more in-depth guide to Facebook marketing. Click here to read how to create and target a Facebook advertising campaign.