Technology blossoms and expands each and every day. The savvy consider it a blessing; those who fall behind consider it a curse. Social media, one of the vanguard faces of modern technology, procures mixed reactions from many who resist change. For smart small businesses, however, it can produce a good profit.
Small businesses have something large corporations don’t: a unique voice. Social media, despite however intimidating it may be to some, can often times be the best way to amplify that voice and attract new and repeat customers. With these social media tips for small businesses, you and your business will be able to navigate social media (and better business practice) with ease.
Use Multiple Social Media Sites
In this day and age, businesses can’t afford to just dip their toes in the shallow end of the social media pool. They need to go full cannonball in the deep end.
Facebook is a great start, but for most businesses it shouldn’t be the start and finish. In addition to Facebook, small businesses should have Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and, if the business’s work is photogenic, Pinterest. Social media has a lot to offer small businesses, but it’s becoming increasingly difficult to reach your fans organically on Facebook. Smart businesses will move to diversify their social media portfolio. Just make sure each platform makes sense for your business. Don’t try to bite off more than you can chew; it helps to make sure you’ve thoroughly planned your social media strategy.
Find Your Business’s Voice
Social media users have to sift through a lot of content on any given visit, so make sure yours stands out with a unique voice.
Maintain a coffee shop? Maybe adopting a laid-back, descriptive voice to highlight the soothing tastes of your cappuccinos. Run an art supplies store? Feel free to go zany or quirky to match your clientele. If you think everyone in your industry is starting to sound the same, maybe try doing something completely different. There will be some trial and error here, but it’ll be a lot easier if you’re able to do some self reflection and discover who you are as a business, who you are to your customers, and ultimately be true to yourself.
Upon choosing your voice, make sure to keep it consistent. Fans who appreciate a casual voice may get put off if the account starts stampeding with exclamation points. If multiple people are helping to run a single account, make sure this is known. It will make occasional changes in voice more acceptable.
Optimize Social Media Profiles
This is a simple tip, though one that many businesses (mistakenly) overlook.
Fill out every account in its entirety. Address, phone number, business descriptions, feedback, header photos, and everything else. People love to explore on social media (likely during their lunch breaks), so give them things to read and photos to look at. Photo albums in particular generate much interaction. Not much can turn someone off from your social media page nearly as effectively as a blank field or lack of attractive visuals.
Likewise, both Facebook and Google+ use different categories to promote businesses to users. Facebook mobile searches rely on the “Category” page, and Google+ relies on Business Pages. It’s good to know what each social media platform uses to evaluate businesses.
Strike a Posting Balance
Now that you’ve laid the groundwork for social media success, plan out exactly how much you want to post each day. Post too little, and you risk falling into irrelevance. Post too much, and you risk billing your brand as annoying.
The ideal day features 14 Twitter tweets, 2 Facebook posts, 1 LinkedIn post, and 2 Google+ posts. Be certain to schedule these social media posts far enough a part and within ideal posting hours (also included in the guide).
Keep Content Engaging
Readers don’t just want a list of the day’s specials; they want content they can interact with, hence “social” media.
Ask your followers questions. Encourage feedback. Run occasional quizzes/games about your business where the winner gets a coupon or a free item. Your promotions don’t have to be groundbreaking. Followers just want to feel appreciated. To feel like there is an exclusive and valuable benefit to following your business. Not only does this galvanize your followers, but it encourages new users to join in.
When users are engaging with your business, be certain to engage back. If fans have questions of their own, answer them in a friendly (and timely) manner. If aligned with your brand’s image, make jokes and communicate with your followers. This helps to associate a friendly persona with your company. It is really important to be genuine and in alignment with your brand voice here because anyone will be able to see your comment or response on your pages. This sets the tone for how other customers or new customers will expect to be treated.
Use Social Media Software
Managing social media can be tedious. It requires remarkably precise timing, on-the-fly-thinking, and abundant creativity. It’s often fun, but it can also be exhausting.
Take advantage of free or inexpensive social media software like Tweetdeck (which comes with Twitter), Hootsuite, Buffer, Social Crawlytics, and more. These tools can help you to establish your social media domination. They allow you to schedule posts in advance, manage outreach, and track success. It’s the best way to beat-out burnout and ensure consistency.
Don’t Go On Hashtag Overkill
Hashtags, for better or worse, are a part of the modern lexicon. They’re used in popular media, reality TV shows, on products, and in conversation both ironically and unironically. For the uninformed, hashtags are words denoted with the “#” symbol that link to all other words with that symbol. They’re great for sharing content.
Due to their surge in popularity, some businesses have taken to “hashtag overload.” Tweets and Facebook posts will feature multiple hashtags, sometimes interspersed within sentences.
It has been shown that businesses that used hashtags on Facebook saw their user engagement drop significantly. This goes to show that it is important to know how users on each platform will react to your use of hashtags. They are not a magic bullet to greater reach.
Hashtags are powerful tool, but use them sparingly. On Twitter, use maybe once or twice on the occasional tweet. Avoid using them on Facebook, as they make your brand less personal and much more obviously “corporate.”