Social media can make a big difference for small businesses at a low marketing cost. According to Social Media Examiner’s seventh annual Social Media Marketing Industry Report, 92 percent of marketers working with small businesses agree or strongly agree that social media is crucial to their marketing efforts.
Within two years, more than 50 percent of small businesses agree social media helps them increase sales; within five years, 70 percent of small businesses see ROI from a social media presence.
Rhett Rowe, President of Capital for Merchants, a small-business lender, says small businesses fail when they try to beat big companies at their own game. Most small companies can’t match the sheer volume of content corporations can create with their seemingly unlimited resources or the glitz of campaigns created by the world’s top marketing agencies. “Small companies don’t have that kind of money, time, or stamina,” he says. “Instead, they should focus on expanding brand awareness, increasing website traffic, and building a community of loyal followers.”
Spreading the News About Your Business
Brand awareness social media posts are like virtual flyers or the online equivalent of newspaper ads. They build name recognition and help your small business start to form a brand identity.
Get the most from social media by tracking metrics within your social media accounts dashboards. Rowe says to use these performance indicators to see whether your posts are boosting your brand:
- Impressions and reach. An impression is a view of your post, or the number of times it showed up in someone’s feed. Reach measures how many people saw your posts; the same post can show up multiple times in someone’s feed.
- Mentions. Track how often your small business is mentioned on social media.
- Follower growth. Track the number of followers on your networks and how much followers grow over time. If you notice one particular post or promotion attracts a lot of followers, create more of those posts or offers.
- Sentiment. Track sentiment by searching for your company name or username followed by words like “love,” “best,” “sucks,” or “fail.”
- Location. Gathering followers from a particular part of the city, state, or country could open your eyes to expansion opportunities.
Increasing Traffic to Your Website
Making people aware of your small business is good. Enticing them to visit your website is even better. Share blog posts, promote your in-store and online sales, and share important news about your products. When you share links on social networks, Rowe suggests sharing either specific website pages or dedicated landing pages. Directing visitors to your homepage isn’t as effective as sending them to pages optimized for conversion.
Start tracking which social network posts drew people to click your URL and which, if any, posts led directly to lead generation or purchasing.
URL clicks. Within your social network dashboard, track which URLs attracted the most clicks and which posts drew the most attention to those URLs.
Conversions. Use Google Analytics to set up Goals to track visitors from different social networks. Goals might include clicking URLs in a social post, filling out a contact form, or subscribing to a blog. To focus your efforts, analyze how factors such as network, content shared, and time of day affect your conversion goals.
Forming a Community
Forming community creates a network of brand evangelists and potential repeat customers. Rowe suggests asking followers to fill out surveys, answer questions, or share photos or videos of themselves using your products. He also suggests hosting a Twitter Q&A, if you have enough followers, so people can ask questions about your company or products.
Loren Taylor, CEO of Soothing Walls added “Encourage customers to reach out on social networks if they have a customer service question. Set up email or text message alerts for your team so they can respond immediately to customer concerns. If a customer question would benefit your community, turn your answer into a blog post, and invite other customers to share their experiences. When social media makes them feel like part of your small-business family, customers will return again and again.”
Additionally, encourage customers to reach out on social networks if they have a customer service question. Set up email or text message alerts for your team so they can respond immediately to customer concerns. If a customer question would benefit your community, turn your answer into a blog post, and invite other customers to share their experiences. When social media makes them feel like part of your small-business family, customers will return again and again.
Don’t Try to Beat the Big Guys
Rowe advises monitoring other small businesses and competitors to see how they’re engaging on social media. Note how they’re meeting their goals, and adapt their approaches for your business. Let the big guys do their own thing.