Social Media Marketing
Utilizing social media to drive website traffic is just one way social networks can promote your business. Social networks are a cost-effective way to reach existing and new customers, whether or not you decide to have a website as well.
Social networks, what’s right for your business?
Popular social networks today include platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, TikTok, and many more. There are also sites that publish crowd-sourced reviews in certain industries like TripAdvisor, or across many industries such as Yelp. Nextdoor is a popular community-based social network, and there are many others by interest or industry. Depending on your audience one platform might be a better fit than another. Likewise, you might decide a website is better for your business than social media, or vice versa.
It’s a good idea to think about your business and customers to determine what’s the best marketing strategy for you. For example, if you sell home-made jewelry, a photo-based platform like Instagram, Facebook, or a website might be a good fit. Or if you are providing online exercise classes where you are producing a lot of video, you might consider creating a YouTube channel to grow your audience. If you are an electrician, it might be most important to include a list of services, locations served, license number, insurance information, contact information, and possibly some customer reviews. In this case, a website alone might be the best option, or website and Yelp page.
Here are some things to consider when pursuing social media marketing:
- What is your product or service? Think about your product or service and how you plan to sell it. Do you have frequent updates, special offers, menu changes, or other reasons you need to frequently update your customers? Or is your product or service fairly consistent so information doesn’t need to change often? Can your product or service be visually represented?
- Who are your customers? Where do your target customers typically go for information, how do they shop?
- What type of content do you generate for your business? Do you typically create a lot of photos or visual elements? Do you create videos? Are there opportunities to provide before and after comparisons, or new product features? What information would you like to provide to your customers about your business? How is it best represented?
- How much time do you have to engage with online marketing? Social media can take up a lot of time. It’s important to be consistent with your online presence. For example, you don’t want to post on social media three times a day for a week and then not again for several months. Decide on a pace that is sustainable for you and makes sense for your business. Whether once a week or once a month, your online updates should make sense for you and your business. Keep in mind not only do you need to create posts; but when customers interact, you want to be sure to respond. This takes time as well!
Content and copy
What should you post about? There are many ways to engage with your audiences on social media. In general posts that include a visual element are more popular than posts that are just text. Here are just a few suggestions of things you might want to post about:
- Updates to your product or service offering/new products
- Seasonal specials or changes
- Changes to hours
- Before and after photos
- Topics or tips that would be of interest to your customers
- Customer testimonials
- Product demonstrations
- Short video clips (30 seconds or less)
What should you write in captions? Captions or “copy,” meaning the words that accompany your images in post, are largely a matter of preference. It is a good idea to do some research to understand common terms and keywords customers search when looking for a product or service such as the one your business provides. Using these common words can improve your search engine optimization. Some platforms might limit the number of words or characters. For example, Twitter allows just 140 characters. You might need to get creative with the way you say things in your posts to make the best use of space and characters. Keep in mind that the greatest number of people will read the first word of your post as they skim through feeds, fewer will read the second word, and so on. The example below illustrates this difference:
Sample post 1: “Ever wonder how to show someone your love when it’s a special occasion like Valentine’s Day? There are so many options to choose from, how about flowers this year? Our store has many different bouquets, and this year for the first time we are including chocolate with some of our purchases. Visit our website to learn more.”
Sample post 2: Flowers! #ValentinesDaySpecial FREE box of chocolates from @ChocolateStoreHandle with every doz roses purchased, while supplies last! Visit www.sampleflowerstore.com for details or to order.”
Hashtags and handles
Hashtags: It can be helpful to include hashtags and/or handles in your posts. Hashtags (#) provide a way for users to follow and search for topics. For example, if you add “#smallbizideas” to your Twitter post, someone who searches #smallbizideas will see your post. Do some research to make a list of hashtags others in your industry are using, create your own, or use a combination of existing and new hashtags.
Handles: Handles are identifiers or “names” that people, organizations, or groups use on each social media platform. By including a handle for someone or something in your social post you are “tagging” that person or organization. Tagging is a way of cross-referencing or cross-promoting online. As shown in the example above, if you have a flower shop and you are offering a Valentine’s Day promotion including a free box of chocolate with every dozen roses, you could add the handle of the chocolate supplier in your social media post. That supplier would see/receive your tag and could then share the post with its own audiences. Be sure you use the right handle for each specific platform.
Helpful creative tools
You don’t have to be a graphic designer to create images for your website or social posts! Tools like Canva provide a free platform to design and create a variety of graphic images that can be used for websites, social posts, flyers, signs, and other collateral. Here is a list of the Top 10 Best Graphic Design Tools for Beginners from Software Testing Help, and you can search on the internet for free graphic design tools as well.
Helpful management tools
It can be difficult to manage several social media accounts. You may want to schedule posts in advance, monitor your engagements, post the same photo on several platforms, share the social media marketing responsibilities across a few members of your team, and more. There are helpful social media management tools that allow you to do it all in one place. Some include Hootsuite, SocialPilot, Sprinklr, SproutSocial, Zoho Social, just to name a few. Many offer a free trial so you can try it out before deciding on which one to use.