According to a recent STAPLES study, although most small business owners know that they ought to be using social media, more than a quarter of them don’t know how it can actually help their business. An equal number consider themselves inadequate and lacking in skills for using social media platforms.

Social media, with all its complexity and new features being added so frequently, can be a scary place for a small business owner, and the idea of trying to market their company without having any experience of using various social media platforms can put them off altogether. Here are our 7 absolute must-knows about social for small businesses.

  1. Competitor Analysis


Social Media has been around for quite some time, it is highly likely that some of your direct/indirect competitors have already started promoting their business on social media. As such, social media is an excellent tool to conduct industry research on what types of content work best for attracting customers specific to your industry. See our tips on finding ideas to churn out content for your blogs and social media platforms, and also how videos can and should be integrated into your social media plan.

2. Decide which social media platforms is best for your company.


Not all social media platforms work perfectly for every business. It varies with industry and products/services offered. It will also change with the kind of audience you’re targeting.

  • Facebook: 70% of B2C marketers have found consumers through Facebook, which is very impressive indeed. Facebook is the largest global social network, but it only helps you if you know that the most common demographic on Facebook is between 25 and 34 years old. However, Facebook can also be a good social network to use when targeting older consumers who may not use other “younger” social media networks, such as Twitter or Instagram.
    Read our guide to using Facebook to promote your business!
  • Twitter: 67% of users on Twitter are more likely to make purchases from brands that they follow. Twitter offers a number of benefits in terms of marketing, including the fact that it is instantaneous, fairly simple to use for engaging with your target market, and is a great tool for customer service. If your target market includes the tech industry, it is a necessity to incorporate Twitter into your social media marketing strategy. In planning your campaign on Twitter, be aware that 90% of people state that they specifically follow businesses on Twitter in order to receive promos or discounts. Find out 10 strategies to get the most out of Twitter!
  • Pinterest: While Pinterest started the platform for the artsy businesses, this social media platform has expanded at a near exponential rate. The fact that more than 90% of the pins created on Pinterest are made by women and a majority of the users are women themselves,  is a factor you may want to consider in your social marketing campaign, especially if you want to target women for your business.
  • Instagram: Instagram has also expanded far beyond a fast and easy way to share photos with friends. This rapidly expanding social media network has more than 200 million users. One of the benefits of Instagram is its network’s base comprising of all types of users. If you market to teens, or if your target market involves anything related to travel, food or fashion, this is the place to be. Learn quick and easy ways to promote your business on Instagram!
  • Linkedin: Known as the Facebook for businesses and executives, LinkedIn has emerged as the social media platform of choice to generate leads and promote your business. According to HubSpot State of Inbound report, 43% of all marketers have found a customer via LinkedIn in 2013. Professionals in any field can showcase their expertise and build their professional brand by using LinkedIn. If your company selles to other businesses and high performing individuals, Linkedin is your platform. Check out our know-hows on promoting your business on Linkedin!

3. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail



As with everything you decide to do in your business, there ought to be a plan for social media too. With social media, plans are in the form of Editorial Calendars – monthly, weekly or even daily. Simple editorial calendars can be created on spreadsheets. If you need to create graphics, there are tools such as Canva and Adobe Spark.

Automating the publishing process have been made simple and possible with tools such as Hootsuite or Buffer – scheduled posts go out on multiple platforms such as Facebook, Linkedin and Google+. Once you’re done with your editorial calendars, you’ll just have to schedule as and when the post is due and voila!

4. Social listening/monitoring


‘Social listening’ is the term that is often used to describe the process of systematically and strategically keeping a tab on conversations around the web around your brand and keywords.  Web mentions of your business mean that your brand is well and alive, enough to elicit reactions and responses on the web. If no one is talking about you, you may want to create conversations around your brand and stir up some buzz! Here are our 10 tips for social listening!

5. Boost results with social advertising


Social media advertising isn’t merely a hype anymore – it has become a real, tangible driver of leads and sales. Facebook, Twitter and other social networks are filled with hundreds of millions of consumers. In the third quarter of 2014, Facebook brought in $2.96 billion in advertising revenue, 66% of which came from mobile ads and Twitter generated 85% of its total revenue from mobile advertising in the same quarter. Buying ads on Facebook and Twitter can be done and monitored quite simply – you just need to put up meaningful creatives and target your ads to the right demographics to get the most out of your money.

6. Interlink all your social media platforms with your main website


This should be quite an obvious step to enable users from each platform navigate to your primary website. Now that you’ve created your social media platform, it’s time to get its name out. What’s the point of having newly created a page but not have any followers to reach out to? Social media icons linking to your respective social media pages can be placed on your main website. If you’ve had a company Facebook page and just newly created an Instagram business profile, all you have to do is sync it together.

To increase traffic or entice your followers to your new social media platforms, small-scale campaigns and/or quizzes can be created. Always place a call-to-action at the end, and ask your supporters to spread your name and message!

7. Keeping the boat afloat


Regardless of which platform you choose to use, it is important that you post on a regular basis. The most vital component in a successful social media campaign is consistency. If you do not post regularly or interact with your audience frequently, they will go elsewhere. The best way for engaging with your audience is to make it a point to reply to all mentions and comments. There are also different sorts of content that your business can create to generate interest and conversations, especially if you can create content that the users genuinely find useful.

Do not be afraid to ask your current customers to follow you on social media, and consider offering discounts/freebies in exchange. Always keep in mind that building a strong social media following takes time and effort. The creation of social media platforms is the easy part – the hard work comes in engaging them in meaningful ways such that they always have positive associations with your brand.

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