Learning the science of social media marketing for small business can be daunting. With the dozens of social media platforms and limited time for a small business owner to learn about the platform and engage with users, business owners often find themselves with few followers and no effective message or traffic. These five tips will help any small business owner understand how to build a social media presence that reaches its target demographic and positively benefits the business.
Be a Community Contributor
While social media sites may seem like the perfect venue for free advertising, social media marketing for small business cannot just be about your message. Social media users want to create relationships. A business that spams their social networks with ads and promotions for itself without engaging with their followers won't have followers for long. Think about what information your followers are interested in and provide it. Post about new technology, interesting articles, and up-to-date news that your followers will be interested in. Engage with them through questions and conversation. Becoming a community contributor rather than a spammer will ensure that your social media following grows.
Learn the Rules
Getting involved in social media doesn't stop at creating an account. Small businesses that are serious about social media marketing know that learning and following the rules of the site is essential. Take a common mistake Twitter users make. If a message starts with an "@" to address another user, that message is only relayed to audience members who follow both the business and the person you are addressing. Adding a period prior to the beginning of the message or embedding the user’s Twitter handle into the middle of the message ensures that all followers will see the tweet.
Time your Contributions
Even if you are tweeting and posting messages that will change your followers’ lives, those messages are useless until they are seen. Timing your social media messages for maximum views will get your message viewed and shared. For instance, if you're an east coast shop that gets most of it's business from the west coast, schedule your posts for mid-afternoon, when it’s lunchtime in California, to ensure that more users actually see your message. Another great timing tip is to post slightly before or after the hour rather than on the hour. This strategy targets those followers who are heading to or leaving meetings.
Limit Your Social Media Presence
It sounds counterintuitive, but small business owners need to assess their social media needs and only focus on the sites that best support their message. Don’t sign up for every social media site available. It will be difficult for a business with a small staff to manage them all, and it will dilute your presence. Start small with one or two social media sites that you believe attract your customers and focus your efforts there. Read the rules, research your customer demographic, and learn how to best convert followers to customers. Only when you've mastered those sites should you move on to new social media sites.
Don't be afraid to abandon some social media sites. While Pinterest has a huge following, if your targeted demographic isn't a presence on the site, you're wasting your efforts. Your social media goal should be to gain followers, provide information, and convert followers to customers. If a social media site isn't accomplishing that, focus elsewhere.
Don't Be Afraid to Tweak Your Message
Every social media user has been the victim of a business spamming their timeline or page with the same message over and over and over. While that tactic is annoying, don't let it dissuade you from appropriately recycling content. Rephrase and repost your social content from time to time and note how your followers respond. Keep in mind what drives your audience and what messages they respond to.
Social media marketing for small business can be tricky. Delegating enough time to gain a following and attract new customers without getting lost in the myriad of sites that don’t produce results is a delicate balance. These five tips can help small businesses focus their message and gain the most benefit from their time using social media.