[Click for full size infographic]
For small business owners, social media is a great way to connect with customers, potential customers, build brand awareness and spread news quickly. According to the 2013 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, 86% of marketers report that social media is important to their businesses.
But the average small business owner has limited time and money to spend on social media. A recent survey by Zoomerang states that 59% of small businesses spend less than $100 on social media (42% spend nothing), and 74% don’t employ anyone to manage their social media. And those who do employ social media for their business often don’t know where to start.
You can easily capitalize on the marketing potential of social media even with limited resources. You just need to make sure you put your resources in the right places. Below are some tips on how to focus your social media efforts in a way that will resonate most with your customers.
Social Media Business Tips
Start with Facebook
With 9 million pages for small businesses, Facebook is the most popular platform among small business owners. And for a good reason – Facebook is the place their customers are most likely to be. Not only is Facebook the most popular social media site, it is also the most addicting. According to the aforementioned industry report, 23% of Facebook’s users check their account five or more times every day.
Facebook is very effective for generating business — according to Social Media Quickstarter, 51% of people who “like” brands are more likely to buy a product after becoming a fan:
Image: Social Media Quickstarter
Small business owners should spend the majority of time and money on designing a Facebook fan page. Make it visually dynamic with quality graphics and photos, which humanize your brand image by spotlighting the people in your business and giving customers a glimpse into your business’s inner-workings.
A few tools that will make sure you get the most out of Facebook:
- Use Name Vine to check domain names, Facebook and Twitter extensions in a matter of seconds to see if your desired vanity URL is available.
- Facebook Social Media Plug-Ins let you see what your friends have liked, commented on or shared on sites across the Web.
- Use an app like Pagemodo to customize your page.
Limit Your Focus
Beyond Facebook, be smart about which social media sites you choose to invest in. If you try to maintain a presence on too many sites, you may find yourself overwhelmed and unable to keep up. Outdated and abandoned social media accounts can hurt your brand image. When you fail to respond to customers’ comments and inquiries on these sites, they will think that you don’t care about their input.
To effectively narrow your social media focus, determine which social networks your customers frequent. One recent study found that the average social media user has accounts on only two social media sites and many users have narrowed their usage down to one site. You can determine which platforms your customers prefer by sending a quick survey.
Once this is figured out, maintain a consistent brand identity by matching your company’s designs, graphics and logos across all platforms.
After setting up your social media accounts, it’s time to determine how to interact with your customers and how often to do so. Most small business owners don’t have the time to spend hours posting on Twitter and scrolling through Facebook comments. Fortunately, you don’t have to post constantly to reach a large audience; there are many ways to tailor your posts for optimal reach and engagement.
It is recommended that businesses post one to four times a day on Facebook and five to ten times a day on Twitter. These posts should occur during business hours (8 AM to 8 PM) as this is when most people visit social media sites. It may be difficult for small business owners to post this frequently, but fortunately, Facebook allows you to schedule posts to be published at a later date.
To further save yourself time, push content to all of your social channels at once by using a tool like HootSuite. Take your Facebook page, Twitter feed and any other social channel you have and publish to all of them at once from a single interface.
In addition to scheduled posts, make an effort to respond to customers’ posts on your pages. Considering that the highest percentage of customers prefer to receive special offers and discounts (see infographic image, top of page), use social media as a platform for publicizing discounts. You can even offer exclusive special offers to your social media customers.
Social media might seem intimidating for the overworked and underfunded small business owner, but with the right tools and strategies, social media can be an easy and effective way to reach your customers.
Follow these tips and you’ll be socially savvy in no time.