Social media for small businesses

photo-1473187983305-f615310e7daaUsing social media for your business can bring about great results if done right. However, the trick is to put in the right amount of effort that makes it work, while not being overtaxed by the endeavor. As a small business owner, your time and resources are limited. So when it comes to social media, you can’t be trying to outcompete brands with deep pockets and social media agencies. So here is what you need to know.

Social media, like branding, is a long game

It is really easy to get lost in the immediacy of social media feedback such as ‘likes’ and ‘shares’. After all, that is the metric that’s used by the media when showing how ‘popular’ a post or poster is. While it is definitely a good yardstick to use, the game you’re playing here is one of business goals, not social media popularity. Sure, it would be nice if lots of people liked and shared your stuff, but if you’re after is the next viral hit “like the ice bucket challenge”, you may be missing the forest for the trees. Speaking of…

Figure out what success looks like

Depending on your business, your social media goals might range widely. From providing customer support to building brand perception as a thought leader, there are several many ways to define success. It could even be almost purely informational, just showing your location, operating hours. The last one gives your customers a place to ‘check in’ or leave a review. So if you provide good service, your customers can effectively be your ambassadors.

Play to the right audience

Despite what the networks would have you believe, social media is not purely about the number of people following you. The makeup of those people and how they interact with you is far more important. If you are a physical store, you’d likely do better playing to your local audience rather than an international crowd. Likewise, your activities should center around the same crowd as your business. That way, your are talking to the people who are likely to be customers.

Create a distinct voice

Brands often come off one of two ways – overly impersonal or way too friendly on social media. Like many things, there is a balance to be struck here. If you’re a small business, treating people online as if they were potential customers coming through your door would be a safe bet as long as you recognize anything you say is public.

Used paid promotion strategically

Used sensibly, paid promotions can go a long way in helping you get your word out there. While many business owners are somewhat skeptical about spending money on social media, the truth is that there are great efficiencies that can be enjoyed due to smart targeting. Coupled with an in-store or online promotion, it can really create some excellent returns on investment.