If you own or operate a small business, it’s pretty darn tough to know where you should start with marketing. After all, there seems to be thousands of options. Everything from ads in local new papers to billboards, the options go on and on. But if you’re like most other small businesses, you’re working with a limited budget. Don’t worry – this is fairly typical of small businesses.
As such, you probably want to get the most amount of efficacy for the least amount of money. Ah, but where do most small businesses go when they want to reach members of their target audience without paying exorbitant amounts of money? Yup, that’s right – they turn to social media because in some cases, it can even be free.
Nevertheless, this introduces yet another problem. Unless you’re a design buff, advertising guru, or marketing aficionado, you probably won’t have any idea what you’re doing on social media. Use the following tips to help increase the efficacy of your small business's social media marketing efforts.
1. Automate as Much of the Process as Possible
Small business owners are inherently busy, and between the overhead of caring for their customers and running the business, most don’t have enough time to pursue marketing endeavors. The good news is that there are a lot of social media marketing tools to help leverage your time. There are plenty of tools that help to automate Twitter and Facebook posts. In addition, if you have a WordPress site, you can easily schedule when you want your posts to live.
It’s best to keep a buffer of several posts (perhaps a month’s worth of them) and to continually and automatically post them to your blog. Using automation tools drastically helps cut down on time wasted on tedium such as logging in, waiting for pages to load, and clicking the post button. It may sound insignificant, but even small amounts of time add up quickly.
2. Use Social Media Tools to Tap into Your Target Audience
People send hundreds of thousands of Tweets every single minute, and Facebook has over 1.65 billion active users per month. Clearly, you can’t hope to reach the right social media users without appropriate targeting. But how do you sift through these billions of users to see what they care about, and what’s trending in your industry? You need a way to identify what content is trending and what content your audience cares about the most.
But how do you do this manually? The short answer is that it’s nearly impossible. But there are plenty of tools that use sophisticated algorithms to sift through each upload, post, and tweet. By letting a tool like DrumUp crawl the web for you, you’ll be able to make a more effective use of your time and find the most relevant, pertinent, and trending topics.
3. Trim the Fat and Post What Matters Most to Your Readers
Maximized and highly effective social media marketers don’t waste time creating content that doesn’t apply to their target audience. Sure, there’s a little bit of trial and error involved to see which industry topics resonate the most with any given audience, but you need to make sure that your content applies to your readers.
For example, if you run an ecommerce site for kitchen utensils, you might be able to tap into different market segments. Let’s say that one of the products you see is a NutriBullet. Realize that most people aren’t going to use a NutriBullet as a common kitchen appliance; rather, they’re going to use it to improve their health by consuming more raw vegetables, health drinks, and smoothies.
Knowing that, you could then reach out to people in specific segments like those on a paleo diet, vegans, vegetarians, and other similar profiles. Help educate these segments by posting the hottest new health drink recipes that can be made at home.
It all starts with understanding your audience and developing marketing personas.
4. Avoid “Dead Content”
After you have laboriously studied your audience, created content, and posted that information online, you’re done, and the content’s life cycle is over...right? Not a chance! Though some content, like news pieces, can be extremely temporal and ephemeral in nature, a lot of content can be reused, recycled, and reignited.
To revamp old content, consider adding fresh new images or linking it to social media in ways that you didn’t do in the past. New to social media? Then try sharing your old content on Twitter or Facebook. It could be that your content will perform better after you have established a firm social media presence.
Also, your content isn’t static. Perhaps a few small tweaks to reflect the latest changes in the industry is all it takes to repurpose and old post.
5. Engage Users on Your Own Posts
Facebook in particular is littered with a lot of curated posts. They are perhaps one of the easiest ways to connect with members of your audience without requiring a large commitment of time and resources to create something original (just look at posts by Buzzfeed...they have a seemingly endless stream of curated posts).
However, if you take the time to develop originality and a personal voice, you’ll be able to stand out from the crowd. Not only do you need to inject your own voice into your content, but you should take advantage of engaging users on various commenting systems (Facebook, Twitter, etc.). The easiest ways to add your own personal voice to social media posts is to:
- state your own opinion
- add personal invitations for others to share their opinions
- ask thought provoking questions
There is a lot more to social media marketing than throwing blog content up on a profile page and hoping it sticks. Though social media offers a cheap and effective way to build a following, increase brand awareness, and reach your audience, most small business owners don’t have the time or skills to run a marketing campaign. But marketing is the lifeblood of any business, so if you don’t have the time, it’s better to reach out to a professional.