Social media acts as a bridge between the offline and online world. 🌉
As we shift towards digital, the role of social media has only become more relevant. People are ordering online, working online and meeting up with their friends online. Having social media accounts is like having a small property on the internet: it offers a space where you can interact with your customers, reach new potential clients and market your own products.
But how does a business get started with social media? And how can you, as a business owner, make sure you aren’t just wasting your time? We put together this short guide to help growing small businesses get started with social media.
If millennials and younger generations are part of your target market - which is highly likely - then social media marketing offers you an opportunity to reach them. According to Pew Research Center, 90% of young adults use social media, and most users log into their accounts at least once per day. Younger generations aren’t watching TV, reacting to billboards or clicking on ads; they’re on social media.
Many young adults like to check out a brand’s social media before purchasing a product for them. That’s because an active social media account is a good way to understand brand values, learn more about a company and interact with the brand if necessary. If a small business puts effort into their social media, it’s usually a good indicator they care about their customers.
Having a social media presence and posting regularly is a good way to increase brand awareness. If someone eats at your coffee shop and tags your company in their Instagram story, everyone who watches that story is now aware of your coffee shop. If they walk by your coffee shop one day and recognise the logo, they are more likely to pop in and try the coffee. ☕
Brand awareness is something that’s hard to measure, which means it can be hard to justify - but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth trying. Notice how your customers interact with your social posts, and see how some customers become more loyal when they receive updates on your company.
Here’s an example of a local coffee shop that posts regularly on their Instagram:
These kinds of posts help Instagram followers feel more involved with the company, and more likely to turn into loyal brand advocates.
If you sell items or services online, it’s likely you’ll have a website (if not, we can help you make an online shop for free). Social media marketing is also a great way to help increase traffic to your website. This could be by sharing your content on Facebook or Twitter, or offering discounts to those who buy through social media.
Social media acts as a bridge from the offline to the online world. People visit your store or takeaway, see that you’re on social media and then follow you online. After seeing your regular posts and interacting with your brand, they’ll make the jump to your website and purchase your products online. Social media helps transition your physical customers to online customers, which not only helps sustain your business during lockdown, but increases sales overall!
Social media experts usually recommend posting on two social media channels, but at the end of the day it depends on how busy you are and your overall capacity. If you only have time to post through one channel, then it’s good advice to pick one, get to know it, build a following and only then move on to the next one.
Which channel should you pick? Once again, the best social media for your business depends on the industry you’re operating in. If you are selling something visual such as food or art, Instagram is a good place to start. If you sell books, software or digital products, Twitter may be better. Facebook is usually best for ecommerce sites and online shops, and LinkedIn for B2B companies.
Most experts recommend starting with a plan. Although a plan is essential, it’s also good to start with a bit of experimenting. If you are new to social media, it’s worth testing what works best for you and what resonates with your audience. Download the social network on your phone, set up your company account and then post something every day. Check out what your competitors are posting, and see what their audience seems to like. Follow accounts that your target customer is already following, and follow them back - it’s a good way to get noticed and get your first follower.
Add a “Follow us on Instagram” in your physical shop and website to encourage people to follow you on social media. Offer discounts on your social network to encourage more people to follow you, and offer rewards to those who refer their friends.
Once you have an idea of what you like posting and what your audience may like, then it makes sense to make a plan. Decide on the types of posts you want to be publishing: reviews, customer success stories, current news, witty company posts, etc.
List your several post categories and how often you want to be posting. If you want to take this to the next level, set some goals: how many followers you’re aiming for, what conversion rates you want for your website, etc. Finally, create a calendar with all the posts for the next week, or even next month. Write and schedule them in advance so you don’t need to worry about not posting.
You can use something like Excel to make your plan, and then schedule your posts with a software like Hootsuite or Buffer. Planning in advance makes social media marketing easier to manage as well as to track overall progress.
The Content Marketing Institute has a great Editorial template to help small businesses get started with social media marketing on an Excel spreadsheet: CMI Editorial Content Calendar
One of the main reasons small businesses don’t succeed with social media is because they test it out for a few months, don’t see a return and then give up. The key with social media is to remain consistent. Keep posting relevant content and you keep turning up on your customers’ social media feed. It may take time, but the return eventually appears.
Try to post a few times per week, and schedule posts in advance so you don’t feel overwhelmed. Once you feel a little more confident about your social media marketing, do some more experimenting: interact with customers, do giveaways, prize draws, virtual games and more. Find more creative ways to help bridge the gap between an offline customer and someone who interacts with you online, such as offering pre-orders, or integrating a fully-fledged online ordering system. With Pomelo Pay, we can help you get started for free, and the only fee we’ll charge is a transaction fee of 1.49%.
When it comes to social media and business, it’s important to realise that it should not be a chore or a boring business activity. Social media marketing can be a lot of fun and full of creativity. Customers can usually tell when a social media account is “forced”, so they appreciate it a lot more when the company genuinely wants to connect with them. Download the app on your phone so you can quickly reply to customer queries and enjoy talking to them online.