What small businesses need to know about social media marketing

by Brett Relander

Source: http://www.socialmediatoday.com, November 13, 2014

Small and Medium-Sized Businesses (SMBs) are now spending more money on social media marketing than any other category, according to a report published by BIA/Kelsey. Despite the fact that an increasing number of small businesses are spending money on social media marketing, not all of them are reaping maximum benefits. This is often due to their inability to develop a personalized marketing plan targeted toward a specific audience.

Finding yourself

Among the most common problems faced by many small businesses attempting to develop a social media marketing presence is that they simply do not know where to begin. Far too often, they are all over the map, or they allow decision paralysis to interfere with developing a social media marketing campaign. The first step should be to define who you are and why your consumers should care about your business. Think about why you first started your business and how you want to present it to the world. Ask yourself: if someone else was describing my business, what would they say? Answering these questions should provide you with a clearer vision of how you wish to portray your business to the social media world. Keep in mind that you could have the best products in the world, but if you do not have an interesting story for each of them, your business will not be remembered. Make your presence memorable.

Finding your customer

Along with knowing who you are, you also need to know who your customers are. Who is going to be attracted to your products? Why do they want to buy them? What benefits do your products provide to consumers?

Finding your social media voice

Social media marketing offers tremendous advantages because there are so many platforms for providing brand exposure. The flip side of this is it can be difficult to identify exactly which platform is best for promoting your brand. Each social media channel has a distinct personality, and tends to attract certain target demographics. The more you can learn about the intricacies of each social media channel, the better prepared you will be to choose the platform best suited for disseminating your brand’s voice.

Facebook

70 percent of B2C marketers have found consumers through Facebook, which is very impressive, considering that it is the largest global social network, but it only helps you if you know that the most common demographic on Facebook is between 25 and 34 years old. However, Facebook can also be a good social network to use when targeting older consumers who may not use other social media networks, such as Twitter or Instagram.

Twitter

67 percent of users on Twitter are more likely to make purchases from brands that they follow. Twitter offers a number of benefits in terms of marketing, including the fact that it is instantaneous, and fairly simple to use for engaging with your target market. If your target market includes the tech industry, it is a necessity to incorporate Twitter into your social media marketing strategy. In planning your campaign on Twitter, be aware that 90 percent of people state that they specifically follow businesses on Twitter in order to receive promos or discounts.

Pinterest

While Pinterest remains the darling of crafts, this social media platform has expanded at a near exponential rate. The fact that more than 90 percent of the pins created on Pinterest are made by women is a factor you may want to consider in your social marketing campaign.

Instagram

Instagram has also expanded far beyond a fast and easy way to share photos with friends. This rapidly expanding social media network has more than 200 million users. One of the benefits of Instagram is its network’s base comprised of all types of users. If you market to teens, or if your target market involves anything related to travel, this is the place to be.

Once you have identified which social media platform is the best choice for your marketing strategy, the next step is to determine the best type of content to post on your social marketing medium of choice. For instance on Facebook, 75 percent of the content posted by brands consists of photos. Keep in mind that regardless of the type of content you post, it should link directly to your service homepage or your products. Other examples of relevant content might include posts talking about what you are currently working on, or expressing your appreciation of your customers.  Make sure you also post content that will be of interest to your target market. In this regard, you have tremendous flexibility because you can opt to write your own content, or locate interesting content to share with your audience

Maintaining exposure

After you have developed a following on social media, regardless of which platform you choose to use, it is important to ensure that you post on a regular basis. The most vital ingredient in a successful social media campaign is consistency. If you do not post regularly, and interact with your audience frequently, they will go elsewhere. The best way for engaging with your audience is to make it a point to reply to all mentions and comments. Do not be afraid to ask your current customers to follow you on social media, and consider offering discounts in exchange. Keep in mind that building a strong social media following takes time and effort. Given that 74.5 percent of Small and Medium Size Businesses are using social media to promote themselves, your time and effort is well worth the investment.

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