Social Media Marketing Made Easy: The Ultimate Guide For Small Businesses
Social media marketing for small businesses can be overwhelming and confusing to those who haven’t really put it into play. However, for small businesses today, social media has become impossible to ignore. Over the last 10 years, social media usage has grown substantially. On average, people spend 145 minutes a day on social media. That’s a wide window of opportunity to get in front of potential customers. Don’t miss out on your opportunity to grow your brand and reach your target audience. In this ultimate guide, we cover all the fundamentals to creating a social media marketing strategy that works.
What Is Social Media Marketing?
Let’s start with the basics. Social media was originally designed to make it easier to connect and share life’s precious moments with friends and family. However, over the years, social media quickly became an invaluable and necessary tool for businesses looking to grow their brand and reach their target audience. Social media marketing is the use of social media platforms to promote products and services. Not only that, but it’s also a way to engage with current and future customers.
Why Is Social Media Important For Small Businesses?
According to a study by Statista, there are currently 3.78 billion social media users, which equates to about 48% of the total population. With 81% of small businesses currently investing their time in social media marketing, and 74% U.S. adults using social media, it’s no surprise that social media is an essential marketing strategy for small businesses (Sprout Social). Using social media helps you build brand awareness, increase your customer base, generate leads, and connect and engage with current customers.
So, How Do You “Do Social Media?”
Now that you know just how important social media is for your small business, how do you put it into practice and build a successful marketing strategy? In this ultimate guide, we walk you through the 6 steps to building a successful social media marketing strategy.
Start With A Plan – Set Your SMART Goals
Before you get started, you should have a plan. One of the first steps to coming up with a plan is making sure you’ve outlined your goals and what you hope to achieve from your efforts. Setting SMART goals, in particular, can help you keep your efforts focused and effective.
- Ask yourself why your business is on social media and make your goals specific. What do you hope to accomplish? Your goal may be to simply engage and connect with customers, or it might be to increase website traffic and conversions. Whatever your goal may be, make sure it is specific and clear.
- It’s not enough that your goals are specific, you need to make sure they’re easily measurable. Otherwise, you’re not able to tell just how effective your strategies are. This might be a good time to invest in social media management tools, such as Google Analytics, Sprout Social, or HootSuite – to name a few. These tools can help you track your engagement, conversions, and other metrics that are important to you and your business.
- While you should challenge yourself, you don’t want to make your goals completely out of reach. Ask yourself: are my goals attainable? If they’re unreasonable, reassess your goals. Don’t set yourself up to fail.
- Your goals should be relevant to your business, otherwise you’ll lose the interest of your customers. If your strategies don’t speak to your customer base, or it doesn’t align with your objectives, then it may be tough to achieve the results you hope to achieve.
- This is where you have the chance to hold yourself accountable. Set a deadline for your goals. Mark your calendars for the day you plan to reach your goal. It’s easy to put off achieving your goals if there’s no end date in mind.
Choose A Platform – And Know Your Audience
There are hundreds of social media sites out there, but only 6 of them have generated billions of monthly active users. Depending on your current demographic, you should choose the platform(s) that make the most sense for your brand. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular sites and the demographics you’re likely to see on each one, according to Sprout Social.
- Age Group: 25-34
- Gender: 44% Female, 56% Male
- Age Group: 25-34
- Gender: 57% Female, 43% Male
- Age Group: 30-49
- Gender: 32% Female, 68% Male
- Age Group: 46-55
- Gender: 49% Female, 51% Male
- Age Group: 30-49
- Gender: 78% Female, 22% Male
- Age Group: 18-24
- Gender: 59% Female, 41% Male
Contrary to popular belief, when it comes to social media, quality is better than quantity. You don’t want to be on every social media site – especially if that’s not where you’ll find your target audience. Some questions to ask yourself when deciding who your target audience is includes:
- Marital Status
- Income/Job Industry
- Purchase Behaviors
- Communication Preference
Research Your Competition
A competitor analysis can help you learn what’s already working and what’s not for other businesses like yours. Think about your top 3 competitors and do your research on their current social media marketing efforts. While you don’t want to copy them, learning from them can help you while you figure out a plan.
- Identify Your Competitors
- Know What Social Media Platforms They Use And How They Use Them
- Research How Their Social Strategy Is Currently Working
After you have a good sense of how well your competition’s social media marketing is going, you can conduct a SWOT Analysis. A SWOT Analysis is a framework used to determine and define your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats against your competitive position.
- Strengths (Internal)
- What do you do well and what are your advantages?
- Weaknesses (Internal)
- What are the areas you can improve on as a business?
- Opportunities (External)
- What outside factors, such as the market or your competition, contribute to your business and can help you build upon your strengths?
- Threats (External – Competition)
- What outside factors, such as the market or your competition, pose potential problems or risks for your business?
Pay Attention To Trends
Social media changes all the time. Some of the most popular recent trends include live videos, AR and VR technology, influencer marketing, and stories – just to name a few. While you aren’t expected to jump on every meme or video that goes viral, it’s a good idea to pay attention to trends. This way you can understand what people are looking for when they get on social media. After all, you want to post appropriate content that resonates with your audience – and is relevant to the world today.
Not only that, but it’s also a good idea to research the main reasons why your audience is using social media in the first place. How can your brand benefit them and fulfill their needs, or answer their most pressing questions? Are they there to:
- Stay up-to-date on current events?
- Find entertaining content?
- Have something to do while they’re bored to help pass the time?
- Stay in touch with friends and family?
- Share photos and videos with other people?
Use The Right Tools
Decide which tools are right for you. Social media can be overwhelming and time consuming, and it often falls on the back burner. Luckily, there are many tools you can use today to make it an easy and seamless process. Some of the tools include:
- Even if your main goal is to increase conversions and website traffic, engaging with your customer is still important. There are tools such as HootSuite or Sprout Social that can help you easily be able to engage and respond to customers without having to log into each individual social media site. Not only can this save you time, but this can also make it easier for you.
Analytics and Reporting
- It’s always a good idea to analyze the success of your social media marketing efforts. There are tools out there that give you the ability to review data all in one place so you can see all the statistics you want: engagement, likes, followers, month over month comparisons, etc. Some tools include Google Analytics, Sprout Social, HootSuite, Buffer, and more. If you’re not tracking your success, you won’t know where you can improve your efforts.
- In order to create eye-catching content, graphics and/or photos are necessary. There are many sites out there, some are even free, that give you the ability to create graphics that will work for your brand. One popular site is Canva.
- Content is single-handedly the most important part of your marketing strategy. You want to create content that is relevant to your audience and your brand – and also engaging. We suggest you plan a month’s worth of content in advance, so you can really dedicate time to creating content that will work for your strategy. At the end of every month, check out those analytics and see what worked well and what didn’t. It’s never too late to work on your content and change it up to fit your needs – and the needs of your audience.
- Tools like Sprout Social, that offer easy engagement management and analytics and reporting, are the same tools that offer the ability for you to automate your posts. This helps free up more of your time, so you are spending less on having to come up with new posts every day. Not only that, but it also allows you the opportunity to focus on engaging with your audience.
Experiment and Pivot – Patience Is Key
If you’re new to social media marketing, be patient with yourself. It’s rare that people get it right the first time. You may notice overtime that your goals don’t work for your business, or you didn’t understand your audience as much as you said you would. Once you know what type of content performs the best for your business and what your audience likes and dislikes, you can adjust and try again – or keep doing what’s working. By using analytical tools, you can easily assess your strengths and weaknesses all in one report. Some experiments you can try include:
- Different Types Of Content
- A/B Testing For Ads
- Show Two Different Ads To The Same Audience At The Same Time
You can look back and see which strategy performed the best and which got the most engagement. The first step to any successful social media marketing campaign is to get started.