But social media marketing only works if you’re strategic about what you post and where you post it. This guide will introduce you to the key principles behind successful social media marketing for your small business.
Social media marketing is digital marketing strategy businesses use to build awareness and engagement with customers by posting on popular online platforms life Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
“Social media marketing is how a small business owner builds their brand online,” said author and small business expert Melinda Emerson. “There are many social platforms to choose from, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram and Snapchat. When utilizing social media, a business should develop and share content that is helpful, engaging, and not too self-promotional.”
Social media marketing comes with many benefits. It can help build loyal customers and keep your business top of mind with them. It can also help you better understand your customers.
“Through social media, a company can learn what clients want, what prospects are looking for, and how businesses can improve,” said Eve Mayer, CEO and owner of Social Media Delivered. “Years ago, businesses spent large amounts of money to engage focus groups to provide feedback about their products. Today, social media enables us to gather much of the same data for very little money and resources.”
Effective social media marketing starts with thinking about who you’re trying to attract and engage. When you post content, always ask whether it will help your customers in some way, and not just your business.
“I view social media as an ongoing conversation with people who are interested in you and your business,” said John Paul Engel, lecturer of entrepreneurship for the University of Iowa. “You should start with an idea of the market you are targeting and archetypes for your customers.”
Engaging in a conversation with your customers means sharing relevant posts, and not just promoting your business all the time.
“Many businesses who have done social media well have figured out that it is not about broadcasting promotions, products or services. It’s about getting people to know, like and trust your brand while building real relationships,” said Shana Haynie, co-founder and creative director of Vulpine Interactive.
Knowing your audience is the first step to creating your social media marketing strategy. Setting clear business goals is the second. After all, you can’t measure the success of your social media marketing unless you know what you’re trying to achieve.
“It’s easy to spend a ton of time posting, liking and commenting, and in return have little to show for it,” said Cyril Lemaire, managing director of digital marketing agency Traktek Partners. “Think about why you’re engaging in social media for your company.”
Some examples of goals you achieve with social media marketing:
Once you set your goals, you can track whether your social media accounts are helping you to reach those goals.
“A social media marketing campaign is when you use a social media platform (like Twitter or LinkedIn) to reach a specific group of people during a defined time period with a specific business goal,” said Mayer.
A social media marketing campaign is where you apply your knowledge about your target audience and your business goals into a specific plan you can monitor over a specific period of time, and then adjust as needed in your next campaign.
Brainstorming social media content doesn’t have to be hard, it just takes a little time and effort.
“The easiest place for a business owner to find content ideas is to consider their customers,” said Emerson. “Why do they buy from you? Why do they need your product or service? What are your customer’s pain points? Once you answer those questions, you should have plenty of content ideas.”
When you’re coming up with ideas, keep in mind that certain platforms are better for certain types of content.