In the rapidly changing, digital world we live in today, it can be easy to get left by the wayside as a local small business. Especially when competing with much larger brands. Deciding to invest your time in social media as a small business can be a daunting task, no matter how social media savvy you are. I assure you, however, it is 100% worth the effort.
Social media is the perfect tool to help your small business grow before your eyes. In this blog post, I will help you define, visualize, and maintain social media success that will support your small business to become the thriving business you and I both know it can be.
DEFINE YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA SUCCESS
Recognize Your Goals
Defining your goals for what you expect from, and what you’d like to achieve with, social media is a critical first step to take when making the plunge into the world of social media. It helps you remain accountable to yourself, and it helps give you a clear path to success. It is important to pick something measurable, allowing you to track your growth and progress towards the goals you set for yourself and your brand.
Locate Your Target Audience
Knowing who your target audience is, is preeminent when crafting your social media strategies. The people you’re trying to reach with your social campaigns are the lifeblood of your business, and social media efforts, either through direct sales or even through more social interaction. It will only be beneficial to you to know and recognize who you’re targeting, and not only that but also why they’re coming to you.
Identify Your Brand
Your brand, whether you’re an individual or a company, is essentially everything that makes you unique. It’s the picture you paint for your followers encompassing your photos, posts, profile information, among many other factors. Figuring out the face you’d like to present to the public is essential, but maintaining that face is even more so. Instead of continually trying to overhaul your look in favor of something radically different, you want people to not only become familiar with your aesthetics, but also with your personality as a brand.
Strive for Commitment
Most important, is defining your commitment to using social media as a means to grow your business. It can be a lot of work sometimes, maintaining an active presence and keeping a steady stream of content flowing. Your followers (read: potential customers) notice the frequency of your content, and how actively you’re responding to their questions and comments, so you can imagine how it looks when you don’t post very often, or leave questions unanswered. By maintaining a presence, not only are they learning about your services and your brand, but they are also learning to trust you, which is vital in trying to drive up your sales.
VISUALIZE YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA SUCCESS
Choose Strong Images
The images you use across all of your social media platforms must be cohesive and keeping to the brand you created for yourself. It can be confusing when people follow you on different platforms, but your images don’t reflect the same style. Especially if you’re trying to sell a product, the images you present to people will be the first thing they think of when thinking about your product, and you’d much rather have them believe positive things about your services. It can be helpful to choose a few colors for your brand, and tying all of your images together with color makes a very composed-looking profile.
Hashtags are incredibly important on many of the most popular social platforms, regarding people being able to find you online and also a part of forming your brand identity. When making a post, always research the hashtags you are using, you don’t want your brand to be associated with something that could turn away potential customers. Taking the time to brainstorm your own hashtags is also incredibly beneficial, and can really separate you from your competitors. It will also help you gain traction with your target audience if you have a hashtag that they can’t help but use after partaking in your services.
Integrate your Location
This is less important for those of you that operate entirely online, but as a local small business, it is crucial that you tag your location so that people know where to find you. As a local business, it can be assumed you’re only trying to draw sales from your local community. You’d be surprised, however, at how many people would be willing to patronize your business, if they only knew where it was!
Promotions can mean different things to a local business. It can mean creating your own event, with accompanying hashtags, and promotional offers. Staying in tune with your local communities events is also an avenue worth exploring. If your town is having some kind of festival or gathering, it can be incredibly beneficial to piggyback on the events already existing hashtags and promotions. For example, running a sale exclusively on that day, or even crafting a specially limited product is a great way to entice new business.
Inspect your Competitors
Keeping tabs on your competitors is also a necessary part of trying to grow your business. I don’t mean you should be envious of whatever success they achieved. You should take note of what worked for them, and what didn’t. Take these ideas, and figure out how to expand them for your own use. Hesitate to merely copy them because your clientele will surely notice if you’re just trying to emulate another business. They came to you because you have one thing that no one else has, YOU.
Within your local community, there are undoubtedly other small businesses trying to grow and expand just like yourself. You should look for opportunities to encourage symbiotic growth, by sharing each other's posts or even working together on a social campaign from time to time. By working together, you’re being exposed to an entirely new demographic of potential clients that might not have otherwise been interested in patronizing your establishment. It can be as simple as having positive interactions online or can be as large as a collaborative effort on a sale or discount for each other's followers. In any aspect not only will it grow both businesses, but it will also strengthen your local community.
MAINTAIN YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA SUCCESS
An essential part of maintaining your business's social media identity is being present. What this means is that you need to continue regular and consistent posts on whatever platforms you've committed to. Walk before you run, choosing one platform and perfecting it is a perfect place to start. It might seem easy at first, but maintaining an active presence across multiple platforms is harder than it looks. It will be easy for people to tell if your content is lacking. A good rule of thumb is quality over quantity, ensuring each piece of material you publish meets your standards every time will only help you grow, even if it is just one post at a time.
Communication is another critical aspect of marketing. It is reasonable to assume that after forming an online presence, your customers, whether actual or potential, will try and reach out to you. Being active with your responses, and helpful will only serve to grow your business in the best possible way. Proactive communication with your target audience is the perfect medium to obtain feedback, and more importantly, build the trust that your business relies upon to survive.
Mix in Entertainment
Maintaining a certain level of entertainment value is an often overlooked aspect of representing a business on social media. It can be extremely off-putting, to be always just pushing your product or company, and people will grow tired of that continually appearing in their news feeds. Injecting a little humor into an otherwise bland post, or even having some posts be unrelated to business, is a great way to make people feel more comfortable with your brand. A great way to sprinkle in a little entertainment is using GIFs instead of just a regular image, GIFs are always hilarious, and there are so many for you to use if you can’t make your own.
Practice Patience for Small Business Success
The most important lesson to learn is that you’ll need to be patient. You can’t expect to create an account and instantly be swarmed with followers and customers. It takes time to grow your small business through social media, but if you keep at it, and remain consistent in your efforts, you will see the fruits of your labor.