How to Make Social Media Work for Your Small Business

Social media marketing isn’t rocket science, but it’s not something to take too lightly either. Whether you want to get the most out of your existing accounts or are thinking about starting a new one, there’s a lot to keep in mind.

Recent research tells us that around 80 percent of small and medium-size businesses use social media and they have big expectations for the results. Seventy percent believe social media should generate leads, 57 percent expect it to help build brand awareness and another 57 percent think it should engage their customers.

Does social media live up to these expectations? The answer depends entirely on how you use it. Social media marketing can reach specific groups of people in a way that isn’t possible with traditional TV, radio or newspaper ads. But you can’t just throw together a Facebook page and expect customers to pour in. Here are our tips for doing it right:

Choose a focus

Consider your focal point when choosing a social media platform. For example, if you run a bakery or salon, visuals are important, so Instagram can be a great tool for showing off your handiwork. If you plan to share small updates and news, maybe Twitter is the way to go. If you don’t have a dedicated person to handle social media, it’s probably best to choose one or two main platforms to focus on and run well. If you try to take on too much, you might be so overwhelmed that you’re unable to respond to customers when they reach out to you.

Metrics matter

In a recent survey of over 500 small business owners, 38 percent reported that they haven’t seen a return on the money they’ve spent on social media marketing. However, 55 percent are apparently not using any sort of marketing dashboard to track the real results. It’s hard to quantify marketing success without digging into metrics. Be sure you have systems in place to measure results so you can gauge what’s working and what’s not.

Results take time

What are you trying to achieve and how do you want to make it happen? Answering these questions might get easier if you create a long-term social media strategy. Be patient as you create your online presence and build followers. Have fun interacting with your audience and think about what you can do to add value. Effective social media isn’t just about promoting your brand — a feed that’s entirely self-promotional gets dull pretty fast. Instead, link to relevant articles and events, respond effectively to customers’ questions and provide your customers with behind-the-scenes glimpses of your business.

Combine marketing efforts

Social media is especially powerful when used with email campaigns, competitions, loyalty programs and other marketing efforts. Be sure to include social media links on everything else you do. You can also incentivise customers to follow you by posting special discount codes to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

You can do it!

While the vast majority of small business owners are using social media, some are still resistant to trying it. One study found that 51 percent of respondents feel social media marketing takes too much time to manage, while 9 percent feel it’s too complicated and 2 percent are concerned it has hurt their image in the past. If any of these concerns resonate with you, take it slow and chat with someone you trust who has managed social media for other small businesses. If you don’t connect with your customers online, you’re missing out on an important opportunity to build your brand, respond to criticism and resolve problems. So go on, get your voice out there and help your business shine!

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