How Small Businesses Can Use Social Media to Grow

This article is written by Brian Peters, the strategic partnerships manager at Buffer, where he manages digital marketing campaigns and initiatives.

There’s an abundance of marketing opportunities to help you interact and connect with customers, grow brand awareness and drive sales in the digital age. One of the most cost-effective — and one used by small businesses in increasing numbers — is social media, offering reach (the number of people who come across your brand) for a fraction of the price of other marketing channels. Whether you’ve been testing these waters for a while, or still need to set up your social media accounts, here are 3 ways you can use platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to grow your business.

1. Embrace video

Video marketing is one of the most talked-about topics in social media right now, but many businesses aren’t sure what to create or how. Certainly when it comes to the what, a good rule in marketing is to just look at what’s working best now. Here are some ideas:

  • If you have a blog, view your posts in order of traffic (the number of readers each post is receiving) and create videos about the most popular topics.
  • Look at what your competitors are doing on their social media accounts, and which ideas are receiving the most attention.
  • Find inspiration in the stories and storytelling techniques used successfully by big brands, and consider how you can scale these down for your small business.

As for the how, you don’t have to be an expert in video marketing to see big results on social media. These tried and tested techniques will help you create professional videos that people want to watch more than once:

  • Hold your viewers’ attention with short, snappy videos tailored to each platform.
  • Make your point in the first three to five seconds to make sure viewers don’t miss it.
  • Whether you’re indoors or out, keep lighting and sound consistent and clear.
  • Shoot on the newest smartphone or digital camera you can get hold of.
  • Shoot horizontally on a tripod, without a zoom (which will add pixelation).
  • Use free editing software to make the final cut feel professional, like iMovie (if you use Mac) or Windows Movie Maker (if you use Windows).

2. Boost your top-performing content

Social media platforms help you see which content (videos, images, GIFs, written posts and so on) people are viewing or interacting with most. Interactions can be anything from likes and comments, to re-shares. Use the analytics tools in each of your social media platforms to find your most popular posts, then “boost” them — that is, pay what you like to get those posts in front of even more people. Each platform will begin to discover which types of content people like most overall and when they like to see it.

3. Focus on quality content

If no one can understand or relate to the way you talk about your business — or if they’re bored — you’re going to see little engagement on social media. Quality content lies at the intersection of entertaining and educational, where they learn about your product or service without feeling like they’re being pitched at.

When you’re mapping out an idea on social media, consider how to include:

  • Storytelling that illustrates a problem (beginning), process of resolution (middle) and conclusive solution (end)
  • An interesting and unique explanation of your product or service’s benefits
  • Humour that appeals to your target audience
  • Emotions that your audience will relate to
  • Visual references and music that will feel relevant to your audience

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