The SME Guide to Social Media

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As a small business owner are you constantly looking for new ways to engage with your end-user? You might’ve heard of social media marketing and have been wondering what is it all about. Well in this blog I will be answering any questions you have about social media marketing and running you through the basics of how to use social media for marketing. If that is not good enough, I also have a special surprise at the end of this blog. 

Why Social Media

There is no better fit for business than social media. Whether or not you give social media a thumbs up, it‘s one of the most powerful and cost-effective ways to reach and engage with your customers. Social media is almost universally used by both consumers and brands. Marketers are even reporting that social media has an ROI of 100, 200, even 1,000 per cent.

Social media usage is one of the most popular online activities. In 2020, over 3.6 billion people were using social media worldwide, a number projected to increase to almost 4.41 billion in 2025.

Statista

Social media is no longer a platform to keep in touch with friends or family but a powerful tool that businesses can use to create two-way communication with their consumers. It is now necessary for businesses to use social media to engage with consumers at every stage of the consumer lifecycle. To stay competitive, you must know how to leverage social media marketing to build your brand, drive demand, and engage your buyer. 

Social Media Marketing Defined

Social media marketing is the use of social media platforms to connect with audiences to build the company’s brand, increase sales and drive website traffic.

Social media marketing is key to staying competitive for small businesses as social media is a tool to reach your target audiences, engage them with relevant messages, and build lasting relationships. In 2016, 90% of businesses owners agreed that social media is important to their business.

Pie chart showing if businesses agree or disagree that social media is important.
Michael A. Stelzner

You must understand the difference between the different types of social media platforms. Consider which platforms are right for your business, reach your customer demographic, and will provide the most value.

Hootsuite

Facebook

Facebook is the most popular social media platform with a varied audience, with over 2.9 billion active monthly users as of 2021. Facebook‘s continued success can largely be attributed to its focus on user experience and its ability to navigate the shift to a mobile-first world. 

In 2007 Facebook created a space for brands on the platform allowing marketers to interact with potential customers. Also, in 2020 Facebook launched the Business Suite tool provides many options for promoting the services and offers. It offers marketers a tool to set specific goals and new options for creating the targeted audience.

Despite the platform’s reputation as a seemingly “older” network, 26.4% of the platform’s user base is made up of millennials. That said, over one-third (36%) of Facebook’s audience are 45 or older.

Sprout Social

There are many different ways in which you can engage with your audience using Facebook. A few ways you can use Facebook to advertise your product/service:

  1. Facebook Business Page
  2. Facebook Groups
  3. Live Stream
  4. Facebook Stories
  5. Paid Campaigns

Instagram

Instagram might be king for sharing personalised content for your brand and is becoming the go-to platform for many businesses. There is a user base of over 1 billion people, with the majority being millennials. Many brands and companies have had great success once they learned the best way to engage their audience.

Pie charts showing what form of content marketers find most valuable

Instagram is the best platform for visual media, such as graphics, photos and videos. It has many opportunities for great user-generated content and advertising. Important to note that Instagram is a mobile heavy platform, so the content must be compatible with mobile devices. Video stories or reels have become an increasingly popular way for businesses to engage with their audiences. This is because 91% of active IG users watch videos weekly.

Consider the following objectives as you do:

  • Make it exclusive. Post images and videos that can only be seen on Instagram.
  • Make it visually engaging. Instagram users have been exposed to tons of high-gloss, visually appealing images every day. Don‘t post a photo or video unless it has aesthetic appeal.
  • Make it personal. Post photos and videos that give your audience insight into the inner workings of your product or company. 
  • Include your audience. Find ways to feature your followers and promote them (with their permission). Including and acknowledging your audience will encourage them to continue to engage and share.
  • Use Instagram stories. This lets you add polls, ask questions, run-ask me anythings‖ (AMAs), and more to test less-permanent versions of content. 

The Instagram hashtag is a powerful feature that can help new users engage with your content. Hashtags act as keywords, providing a way for people to find photos through a simple search. They are especially useful as you begin to establish your brand as an industry leader and get more followers.

Youtube

Youtube has over 2 billion monthly logged-in users, the majority being Millennials closely followed by Gen Z. Youtube is a great tool for both B2C and B2B for brand awareness through entertainment and how-to videos. Now might be the best time to launch a youtube strategy because Over 82% of internet traffic will be online videos by 2022. Leveraging youtube to educate your audience in short and well-edited videos is key to success for companies that sell complicated products or services.

Amharc Tech’s Video on Cyber Security

Your video titles should be customer-centric and descriptive so users can easily find your content, and your video descriptions should be two or three sentences that include targeted keywords. Be sure to take advantage of the tagging feature, which is how YouTube determines the relevance of your asset.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the world‘s largest professional network, with more than 706 million members. It has outgrown its original use of being just a tool for hiring employees but is now a powerful platform for B2B marketing. It has a more evenly spread demographic of users between Baby Boomers, Gen X and Millennials. Linkedin is a highly professional social media platform so commit to creating polished, professional content related to your business. Paid LinkedIn advertising is considered the number one way for B2B lead generation.

You can build a robust company page and profile on Linkedin to showcase your products/services, blog posts, other social media accounts, company culture and upcoming events. Along with posting professional content, you can also share content that matches your brand and company. We‘ve found that because users are on LinkedIn mostly for professional purposes, educational posts perform well.

LinkedIn groups are communities formed around topics of interest, industry, title, professional organization, brand, and so on. You can join specific LinkedIn Groups to ask and answer questions, which can help you establish brand recognition. You can strategically place yourself, in groups, where people are asking questions and sharing articles and information. This way you can learn more about potential customers and their pain points.

Twitter

Twitter is a virtual watercooler where the world‘s newsbreaks and people gather to discuss politics, industry news, pop culture, and their daily musings. As of March 2019, there were 330 million monthly active Twitter users, and the number continues to grow. Twitter is a male-dominated social media platform with over 70% of the users being male.

An estimated 78% of Twitter users influence purchases of friends and family, 73% follow brands on the platform2, and 60% are more likely to be the first to buy new products than non-users.

Twitter

Twitter has become a leading network for thought leadership growth and development and a space where both corporate and personal brands can develop ongoing relationships with followers. It also serves as a popular platform for customers to air their customer service complaints. Twitter is best used for a company with a  strong brand voice as tweets are all words. If you are a company that has a more visual brand and hasn’t developed a strong voice, Twitter might not be the best choice for you.

Pinterest

Pinterest has 444 million monthly active users worldwide. Pinterest is a virtual scrapbook or pinboard that allows users to share and organize visual imagery and link to external sites. The platform functions as a visual search engine. The audience is primarily Millennials with a solid audience in Gen Z, Gen X and Baby Boomer. 85% of Pinners say Pinterest is where they go to start a new project. Also, 80% of weekly Pinners say they’ve discovered a new brand or product on the platform.

Pinterest can serve different purposes depending on the type of business you‘re promoting. For B2B organizations, it‘s a great way to curate visual content like infographics, videos, company culture, and even articles or blogs. The boards provide a unique, visually appealing way of organizing content. But always make sure your content is relevant to your audience and that you include a good content mix on your Pinterest boards. 

For consumer organizations, Pinterest is a valuable tool that allows brands to curate content that builds and reinforces their look and feel. Depending on the product, Pinterest can help drive conversions and sales. From retail to fashion to DIY and beyond, Pinterest has become a valuable conversion generator for many marketers. 

Social Media Strategy

Now I understand that you might be excited to start posting content straight away on the social media platforms of your choice but before you do that you need a strategy. A well-structured strategy will ensure you are setting realistic goals and sticking to a plan to achieve those goals.

Research Buyer Personas

The first step in any social media marketing strategy is to understand your audiences from prospects to current customers. To do this you will need to develop a buyer persona or profile. Personas are simply representations of your main types of customers, categorized and defined. They make it easier to understand your full audience by combining the most prevalent characteristics of your customer base.

To develop your customer persona try and think about the audience you are trying to target. Then decide how you would group these consumers based on their interests, background, pain points, and demographics. For example, if your company sells stylish clothing that is manufactured from 100% recyclable material, you might consider your buyer’s persona to be stylish Millenials who are sustainably aware.

A list of questions that help with building buyers personas
Questions for Buyers’ Personas

There are many free templates available online for buyer personas, one such example would be Hubspot. You can create your own by answering the questions in the above image. Feel free to add more specific questions that suit your company.

Choose a Social Media Platform

Once your buyer personas are developed it is important to decide which platform you wish to target. There isn’t necessarily a right or wrong answer when it comes to the right platform but there are platforms that will be more beneficial to your business based on your audience. When deciding which platform to use you must consider your customer’s needs and where they tend to spend their time. 

In the first section of this blog, we went through each of the social media platforms for you to choose from. It is important to see if your customer demographic is using those platforms. It is also important to choose a platform that matches your brand. For example, if your company has a visual brand and the content you create is photo and video-heavy then Instagram and Pinterest would be a good choice, but Twitter might not be.

Create Content

Due to the intimate one-to-one nature of social media marketing, your audience will expect to behave like everyone else using social media. So, it is not only important to create that offers value to your audience but also meets their expectations. 

The first step to creating content is to define your writing style or tone of voice. This should be based on the buyer persona you created earlier, allowing you to know exactly what style, tone and strategies to use. For example, If you‘re targeting practitioners, you could use a conversational voice on Twitter or Facebook.

Content with relevant images gets 94% more views than content without relevant images. 

David Hall Social Media

Every piece of content you create should have an intended audience even if the audience is broad, you must understand the personas you are speaking to. Make sure to consider their needs and interests so your content provides them with value. Content is your fuel for engaging with your audience on social media. To get the best performance, it‘s important to have the right kind of content. 

Social Media Calendar

So you started creating targeted and engaging content but now you ran into a new problem, you have so much material that it overwhelms your audience. The question of what and how often to post on social is a very important one. To figure out the right mix for your business, you should start by looking at your priorities and determining what you hope to accomplish with your social presence. Do not forget certain social media platforms have different recommended numbers of weekly posts. For example, you should only post twice a week on Facebook but can tweet every hour if you wish. Find what works for you and your business.

You probably have several objectives, which could include the following:

  • Sharing relevant content 
  • Showing off your brand‘s personality and culture
  • Promoting events 
  • Establishing thought leadership
  • Staying on top of industry trends 
  • Announcing new products
  • Increasing traffic to your blog, website, or landing pages 

You might have more or less than this list here, you can also have other objectives that are not listed. To start making a schedule you must prioritise your objectives in order from more to least important. There are multiple free social media calendar templates online, but you can always just make your own that suits your business.

Analysing

One of the most important aspects of a social media strategy is ensuring that all your effort is not going to waste. Once the content is posted on your social media your job isn’t done you have to look at the metrics. You must see if your posts are meeting the goals that are prioritised for that post. If they are not performing well analyse why that is the case and learn for the next post.

Some common and often important metrics to pay attention to are your engagement, impressions and reach, the share of voice, referrals and conversions and response rate and time. These combined will give you a full view of how your social media posts are performing. There are also many other metrics or KPIs you can use, look up what KPIs are best for you and your company.

Most social media have a tool that allows you to analyse your social media posts and account. Twitter Analytics, Facebook Analytics, and Instagram Insights are examples of tools are built into the social media platforms. 

Conclusion

Now you have all the tools and information to need to start your social media marketing strategy. As social media adoption continues to rise, a social media marketing strategy is essential to your brand‘s success. You can‘t afford to be absent from conversations about your brand, especially when your competitors are part of them. Now that you understand how to develop a social media marketing strategy, you‘ll be able to engage your customers at each stage of the journey and create relevant content that drives your objectives forward.

As promised here is the surprise for getting to the end of this blog. For a limited time, only Amharc Tech is hosting a webinar about social media marketing. If you want to learn even more about how you can turn your social media into a money-making machine then click here. There are even more free goodies in the webinar you don’t want to miss.

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Amharc Tech Expert
Amharc Tech Expert
Our in-house experts in Marketing, Business Development, IT, Social Media, Programming, AI, Cyber Security and Web Development - bringing you valuable content every week.

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