Basics of Entrepreneurship: How to Use Social Media For Your Small Business
Social media is an essential and powerful tool to connect with your customers, build brand awareness, and increase sales. With millions of people using social media daily, it is a great way to access a large audience from around the world with minimal effort. Finding and resonating with the right people can be a challenge though. By learning how to make social media work for you, you can meet your marketing goals and build a platform of loyal customers.
Step 1: Find Your Target Audience
Before creating any content you need to know who you want to reach. Social media is a form of marketing and you want to make sure you don’t waste your time by not reaching the right audience. Start by asking who are your customers, what are their needs and wants, and what kinds of content do they usually interact with? What do they want from you? Do they want to learn from or about your business, do they want to be inspired, do they want to interact with your business, or do they want to be shocked? Decide what unique value you can provide that is in demand by your target audience.
Step 2: Choose the Right Platforms
Choosing the right platform to post goes hand in hand with your target audience. Depending on the demographics and desires of your target audience, they will more often use certain platforms. The types of content that each social media platform uses will affect which ones you should choose. For example, if you want to just post pictures, you should use Instagram or Pinterest. If you want to post video tutorials or explanations, you should use TikTok or Pinterest. The age of your target audience is a major demographic factor. Most older generations are on Facebook or LinkedIn, whereas younger audiences are flocking to TikTok. If you do not choose platforms that are most tailored to your target audience, you are not helping yourself and making it harder for your ideal audience to reach you. When starting out, try to just manage 2 to 3 platforms.
Step 3: Create a Content Strategy
Next you need to create a content strategy. After you have decided what kinds of content you want to produce for your customers, you need to create a strategy of when and how you are going to post. You can create a social media calendar here. A good rule of thumb is to post 2 to 3 times a week per platform. You want to start out by introducing your business and sharing with customers what value you can provide them. As you continue to post, you can gain insight into what times and days your audience is most active and engaged with your content. Generally, you want to use social media to create brand awareness, share with customers what you are up to, and to build relationships with personal content. Make sure that anything you post follows your branding strategy, so you can build a recognisable identity.
Step 4: Keep Up With the Trends
Social media content can be trendy one week and boring the next. It can be hard to keep up with the vicious trend cycle that is especially prevalent on TikTok. Platforms like Facebook, Pinterest, and LinkedIn have stable trends that can be safer options. Additionally, there are different trends for each niche on the internet. It is good to spend a decent amount of time each day scrolling to see what your competitors and leaders in your industry are posting.
Keeping up with trends and news in your sector will help you to be able to read the room and post desirable content. Your digital footprint is also something to consider when posting. Make sure not to take too harsh of takes or offend any groups of people. The tone and messaging of your content can be perceived in many different ways. Often, people hold brands to a certain standard, and people may boycott you if you promote ideas that do not align with their morals.
Hopping on trends before their cycle ends can help your content to go viral. Instead of trying too hard to make a one hit wonder viral video, it is more sustainable to post consistently and build a smaller, loyal group of people. Having a million followers means nothing if they don’t actually care about your business and having 1000 loyal customers will bring in more profits.
Step 5: Engage With Your Followers
Engaging with your followers is an essential step when posting as a business. A business can often seem impersonal and cold on social media, but by replying to comments, reposting your customers posts, and responding to questions you can build trusting relationships. People want to see that your business is run by a real person too, and by doing so people will be more likely to buy from you. Additionally, if you go out of your way to thank customers for their orders, they will be more likely to be a returning customer.
The way you speak to customers on the internet can make a difference in how you are perceived. Having a kind tone and using appropriate emojis can make you seem more personable. Questions and comments must be answered within 24 hours or else you risk angering your customers. Additionally, creating engaging content that involves people in your business process will create a sense of commitment and will help customer retention. For example, if you ask customers in a poll, “should I create blue or red shirts next?”, and if a customer votes red, they will be more likely to buy that red shirt because they had a say in the decision making process.
Step 6: Measure Your Results
Finally, it's important to measure your results and adjust your strategy as needed. Use social media analytics tools to track your performance, such as engagement rates, follower growth, and website traffic. This will help you see what's working and what's not, so you can make informed decisions about your social media strategy. Being able to pivot your content strategy is essential for the success of your business. If you are stuck in the past with your social media, you will do more harm than good for your business; especially since popular content changes so quickly.
A message from the author, Natalie Ward:
Social media can be a daunting, time consuming, and confusing aspect of marketing your new business, but with enough patience and consistency you can elevate your business by connecting with customers. My best advice is that it might take a while to reach social media success. Don’t give up just because your first strategy does not work. Even if your numbers are low don’t quit, because you never know which post will go viral.