Here are 4 ideas to market your small business using social media.
Most big brands have social media pages and use them as a platform for engaging with their customers – think McDonalds. Small businesses without their own social media team may think they don't have enough time to properly engage with people, so they simply post updates about their sales or special events with no real attempt to be social.
However, as long as you are strategic about it, there is no reason why a business with only one restaurant or retail outlet can't gain a boost from social media! Here are four ideas to market your small business using social media.
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1. Pick the right platform
There are so many different social media platforms out there that there is no way you can regularly market on all of them in addition to running your business. You need to decide which websites are the best for sharing information about your business and attracting customers (and always use Facebook, simply because it has the greatest reach).
For example, a bakery probably won't see results from advertising itself on LinkedIn – people are on LinkedIn for business, not finding breakfast. On Instagram, however, you can post photos of your products and videos of how you make them, and your customers will tag you when they post their own photos of the food they get!
Conversely, if you are an accountant or lawyer, then it is very unlikely that people will talk about your services on a photo-sharing site. In this case, LinkedIn will be a very appropriate platform to advertise on, with a Facebook account also being necessary.
Snapchat is also an under-utilized resource when it comes to social media marketing (for a less serious business). If you are making a particularly intricate meal, preparing for a sale or setting up for an event, it only takes 10 seconds to video a part of the process on Snapchat and share it with fans.
2. Share quality and relevant content
If your social media stream is just a series of ads, no one will follow you. The Facebook algorithm has been changing so that people only see posts that their friends have liked or shared, so you need to get people to enjoy following your business.
If you have a blog (which you should – even one post a week will make your website better), then you should, of course, share your updates over Facebook and Twitter (as well as LinkedIn and Google Plus if those websites are appropriate for your business). Additionally, sharing news about your industry should drive your engagement up.
Humor is also a very successful strategy for increasing engagement. The White Moose Cafe in Dublin is a fantastic example of this. The owner, Paul Stenson, runs Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram feeds for the cafe and has generated close to 130,000 Facebook followers.
If you read through the White Moose reviews, you will find that a significant number of customers have been following the cafe long before they first try the food. In fact, The White Moose is becoming something of a tourist attraction in Dublin due to its social media following, with overseas tourists making a point of visiting the cafe when they come to the city.
3. Actually engage
If you simply post a link, picture or status update and then forget about it, you are missing out on a chance to keep it relevant. If people comment on your content, you should try to respond. This will not only make your followers feel that you are interested in them, but it gives you an opportunity to answer any questions they have.
In addition, a conversation in the comments section will further boost your post in the feed of most social media sites, meaning more people will see it (which is the point of using social media in the first place).
4. Find the right groups to post in
Simply sending your Facebook update out into the world might start a conversation and lead to customer engagement, or it might not. To increase the likelihood that people will read your blog (or see your picture or video), find a relevant Facebook group to share it to.
As an example, many cities have a group that bartenders use to discuss work opportunities and share information about the hospitality industry. (In Sydney, it's called the Sydney Bartender Exchange, which has over 35,000 members.)
If you are launching a new spirit or craft beer, sharing information about it in these groups will ensure that your post is seen by thousands of people who will be interested – and hopefully, they will tell their friends about it, too.