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Ready NorthNovember 15, 20164 min read

A Guide to Growing Your Small Business on Social Media

14406096347_9a3c83b3a0_z.jpgDeveloping a credible, consistent presence on social media may seem like a daunting task for small or mid-sized businesses. But, with a strategic approach, the time spent is well worth it.

Social media is a communication cornerstone for more than one generation. In fact, research shows that there are nearly 3.4 billion Internet users worldwide. Of those, 2.3 billion have social media accounts. 

Still worried your audiences aren’t there? Think again. The likelihood that your audiences are on social media has never been higher. In fact, users 65 years and older made up the fastest-growing age range in 2015, followed by 18-29-year-olds.

This guide explains how small businesses can—and should—take advantage of the opportunities that social media has to offer to help grow and enhance their business. 

Meet Your Audience More Than Halfway

It’s not enough for businesses to post promotions and discount codes on their websites in the hopes that audiences will stumble across it. To get found by the right consumer, brands must first understand target buyers, what problems they need to solve and where they are more than likely searching for answers. 

These consumers may not even know they need your product, but by taking into account key demographics like age, income level and where they live, you can better communicate your message as to why they do. Pinpoint which social channels your audience uses most often and meet them there. For example, if your small business targets mothers, your brand may see more success on Facebook versus Twitter, or Instagram.

Once you’ve identified top priority channels, focus initial efforts in building up a following on that specific channel. But, be careful not to overdo it. Too many posts in one day or week can lead to a mass exodus from your network.

Mix Up Your Content

Positioning your small business as a thought leader in your industry is a foolproof way to gain trust from your followers. To ultimately convert followers to customers, share an even mix of promotional, curated and owned content.

Why? We aren’t the only ones who think so. There are a number of social formulas that dive deeper into this idea, a popular one being the 60/30/10 ratio from Rallyverse: 

  • 30% owned content, which could include a blog, photos, videos, SlideShare presentations, etc. that your small business created.
  • 60% curated content, which should include links to third party content about your industry or market. While you don’t want to link directly to competitors, the advantage small businesses have is that they can link to larger companies in their industry, while providing their own unique perspective.
  • 10% promotional content, which includes discount codes, sales and calls-to-action to buy your product or service. 

Incorporating a formula in your strategy allows you to keep a healthy balance of content. That said, there’s also the option to take a much more untraditional approach.

Similar to Buzzfeed’s social strategy, small businesses may see a lot of success using social channels strictly as branding platforms. This means posting content that doesn’t always tie back to your product or organizational goals, but is engaging, relevant and clickable—ultimately to help foster a stronger brand identity.

Put a Face to a Name

While it’s important to solidify an identity behind your brand and mirror it across your channels, don't forget that customers want to engage with brands that are personable and passionate.

Small businesses with a vibrant, tight-knit group can maximize the benefits of a positive culture by showing it off on social. A simple way to do this is to encourage employees to act as brand ambassadors. This allows audiences to see the real people behind your brand. Adding a human element to your channels might include employee spotlights, philanthropic features or even providing a behind-the-scenes look at how you create your product.

Don’t overlook the importance of defining your brand’s personality and tone on social. Does your product or service allow room for humor, or does it make more sense to take a more serious tone? Consider this element when drafting content and communicate it with your team. This will ensure consistent messaging no matter who is posting.

Manage What You Must, Automate What You Can

To be successful on social media doesn’t require an entire team. If you’re on a strict budget or simply don’t have the personnel nor the time, there are a variety of free tools at your disposal.

To name a few, social media management plans are available on Hootsuite, Buffer, and Tweetdeck, all of which allow you to draft, schedule, and measure your social media feeds on multiple platforms. In addition, many of these tools also offer access to basic analytics on post performance. 

Another promising option for small businesses: Twitter recently launched Dashboard. The app is specifically made to help small businesses create custom feeds to monitor industry chatter and also offers content ideas, ideal times to post, and more all within a one-stop solution.

It’s every business’s goal to get noticed and start building a loyal base of followers when they join any social platform. For small businesses to compete with other small, mid, or even large sized businesses, there are a variety of tools to help automate social media management and formulas to ensure they’re sharing a balanced mix of content.

Ready to revamp your social strategy? Jumpstart your 2017 planning today. 

Accelerate marketing performance with Ready North


Image Credit: Magicatwork



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