Social media has become a huge part of the business world today. Having started out as a vehicle for people to keep in touch with one another, make new friends and share fun times, it has since grown to become a core marketing tool for businesses, both small and large.

For small businesses, the advantages are numerous. Imagine the huge budget it would take to promote your business to the point where it could compete favorably with larger competitors. If this were the case, it’s safe to assume that there would be no hope for small businesses. Social media provides a cost effective, yet efficient platform for promoting businesses, attracting new customers and building your brand.

If you’ve not been fully utilizing social media in your marketing efforts, you could be missing out on a huge market. Brendan Wilde, Marketing Head at one of New Zealand’s largest hosting provider, Discount Domains, sums it up perfectly: “The bulk of internet traffic comes from organic search and social media mentions. Therefore, businesses should take advantage of one or both to be successful.”

Fortunately, the following basics have been prepared to help you get started.

What’s your Social Media plan?

When it comes to using social media to build your brand, it’s best to know exactly what you’re doing. There are many reasons why small businesses fail in their efforts to capture the market using social media; mostly, this is because they have no idea what they’re doing. Regardless the type of business, whether you have a large marketing budget or are running a shoestring operation, every action you take on social media that’s channeled towards the growth of your business should be carefully planned and targeted towards an ultimate end goal.

  • Set your goals: Why exactly do you need social media? What are you trying to achieve? These are questions your social media goals should answer. For instance, do you want to increase traffic to your website? Are you interested in increasing engagement or would you rather just grow a community of followers on social media? Whatever your aims, they should align properly with the corporate goals of your business and they should be SMART.
  • Find out where your customers are: In order to have an effective social media presence, you need to identify the likely platforms where your customers are based. Facebook remains the most popular social media platform, accounting for 79% of internet users in America alone. Twitter is the next most popular platform, followed Instagram and Snapchat. Of today’s Instagram users, 51% use the platform daily. While each of these platforms are equally important, they appeal to different sets of people respectively, so identify them according to your target audiences.
    One good idea is to take a look at where the competition is most active. While it’s okay to have a presence across all platforms, pay attention to your customers’ preferences and demographics before choosing one. For instance, LinkedIn is a platform for professionals and business people, so it wouldn’t be good investment to spend so much time on that site if you had a spa business.
  • Grow your online presence: As mentioned earlier, if you don’t already have a social media presence for your small business, you might not be able to compete favorably in the market. SEO has evolved and ranking high on Google or Bing is a must in most cases. If you run a web design agency in Birmingham for instance, you will need your page to pop up on search results when users in your locality type “web design Birmingham”. This way, you won’t have to worry much about getting traffic to your online shop. Keep in mind that it doesn’t stop you from building a visible presence on a platform that will directly help your business. This means using the right social media platform and paying attention to building your brand online. From your posts to the level of engagement you have with people on your network, everything should be channeled at painting your brand in the best possible light.
  • Create a schedule: As a small business, keeping your social media channels updated can be a hassle. The truth is that your customers and followers won’t care if you’re swamped with work and can’t answer their queries or reply their questions. All they know is that your brand doesn’t appear to have good customer relations. This is why it’s vital you create a social media schedule and stick to it. If your schedule involves updating your social media channels twice a week, ensure you spend a reasonable amount of time online on those particular days. If push comes to shove, the best thing will be to either outsource your social media marketing or engage an expert, whose only job is to manage your social media channels.
  • Don’t ignore the power of paid social: Understandably, small businesses face the problem of modest budgets. It takes a lot of money to grow a business and you may feel that there is none left over to pay for ads on social media. However, it’s important to point out that social media marketing is more cost effective and efficient than traditional marketing. You’ll get to reach more people who need your product, and at a much cheaper cost too. Research has shown that paid social has a higher return on investment than any other form of marketing, which means you’ll definitely begin to make profits before you know it. It’s important however to point out that paid social requires a different level of skills than simply running a social media account; therefore, you may need to take some time to learn about this or engage the services of someone who is up to speed.

Sitting on the fence is not allowed

To conclude, you can’t have a small business that you hope will one day become a big brand and sit on the fence, assuming that growth will happen automatically. Today’s big businesses were once small and it took dedication, hard work and grasping the relevant opportunities to get to where they are today.

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James Cummings is CEO of DailyPosts UK and an experienced business psychologist. He has successfully managed multiple business projects and delivered staffing solutions to some of the world’s leading brands. Office UK: 023 80 970 979 Office US: (646) 679-7971

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