If your small business doesn’t have a social media presence, you may be missing out on significant benefits for your brand. Through social media, you can gain new customers and engage more insightfully with recurring ones. Social media can be a highly cost-effective and personalized way of reaching your customers while providing valuable insights into your brand.
“Social media provides targeting capability, as well as reach and scale, at a lower cost than almost all other marketing channels,” said Abdul Muhammad, chief digital officer and partner at RBB Communications. “People are on social media all day, every day. Brands must go where the people are.”
We’ll explore social media’s most effective business uses, best practices for an effective social media marketing strategy, how to measure social media ROI and how to select the best social platform for your brand.
These are some of the aspects of business that can benefit from a social media presence:
When you incorporate an effective social media presence into your small business marketing plan, you can reach customers and prospects where they are. Here are some tips and best practices for creating a successful presence on social media to market your brand:
Because so many customers already communicate through social media, using social media for customer service is a no-brainer. Through social media communication, you can address customer problems quickly and efficiently, helping you create a loyal customer base.
One of the most direct and lucrative ways to experience the power of social media is through increased sales. You can boost sales on social media in various ways:
In the modern hiring process, social media platforms provide an excellent way to recruit potential talent. Social media recruiting through sites like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter lets employers access a broad candidate pool and efficiently sort through viable recruits.
A business’s social media channels are also an essential recruitment tool. Potential employees are likely to be more excited about joining your team if your social media platforms reflect your brand and share your company’s values.
What did your business tweet in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings? What did you post on Facebook? Whether you chose to send a heartfelt message to your business’s social media followers or ride out the week in silence, you were probably unsure of how to proceed amid such a tragedy.
Unfortunately, there’s no etiquette book on handling social media marketing when the headlines turn horrific. There are, however, several schools of thought on how businesses should use social media to react to tragic events.
Here are some tips for using social media during a crisis:
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Using social media for business has many advantages. Here are eight business benefits that social media provides.
You’ll need to consider several factors when formulating, setting up and tracking your business’s social media ROI.
Here’s an overview of the most popular social media platforms and their business tools.
Facebook is an extremely popular social media network with a varied audience of more than 2.9 billion active monthly users as of 2022. It’s worthwhile for any business of any size to use Facebook’s business tools and have a Facebook business page.
Use Facebook to share everything from photos to essential company updates. With a business account, you have access to powerful advertising tools and in-depth analytics. Business pages also have many customization options, highlighting your contact information, hours of operation, the products and services you offer, and much more.
If your business considers senior citizens a key demographic, Facebook may be a great way to reach them. Roughly half of the 47 million seniors living in the U.S. use the social media platform, and seniors are the fastest growing user group on Facebook today.
Instagram is also incredibly popular, with more than 1.1 billion active users in 2022. From Instagram Live to Instagram Stories, there is no shortage of Instagram business tools that help brands promote and sell their services and products. Instagram is a visual platform focused on photo and video posts, so it’s an excellent tool for businesses with strong visual content to share. It’s also almost entirely mobile, with tools and services optimized for mobile.
More artistic niches tend to excel on Instagram, but most businesses can benefit from the platform and its broad user base if you target your audience. Your Instagram account manager should have a good eye for detail and some photography skills, ensuring the photos and videos posted to your account are high quality.
While Twitter is great for short updates, engaging with followers and sharing links to blog posts, the platform isn’t ideal for all businesses.
On Twitter, you can share short tweets (240 characters or fewer), videos, images, links, polls and more. It’s also easy to interact with your audience on this platform by mentioning users in your posts along with liking and retweeting tweets.
If you’re a highly visual business or you don’t have a strong brand voice, you may want to skip this social media network. However, many companies excel on Twitter because they have a unique, on-brand voice they use to their advantage.
Other companies use Twitter for business functions like handling customer service; active Twitter-using customers will seek out companies to express concerns or share praise.
If you have interesting content and can engagingly voice that content, Twitter is an excellent tool for quickly spreading the word. Hashtags help boost posts, and if a user with many followers retweets you, your content could go viral.
It’s essential to find balance with Twitter. Don’t just share your links or media; ensure you’re also sharing interesting, relevant content from other Twitter users.
This visually oriented platform allows users to save and display content by “pinning” digital bulletin boards, which can be organized by category. For example, a personal user might have a food board dedicated to pinning recipes, another board dedicated to photography and so on.
Pinterest uses for business include a series of special pins called Rich Pins, which brands can use to add specific information to their pins, including product details and location maps. Every pin on Pinterest includes an image or video, making it a purely visual platform. As such, Pinterest is not the place for you to share information like your business hours.
Pinterest is great for niche businesses, but it may not be for every company. Popular categories on the site are DIY projects, fashion, exercise, beauty, photography and food. That’s not to say that businesses outside these categories can’t succeed on the platform, but it makes Pinterest an especially good marketing tool for businesses in those areas.
Snapchat is a mobile-only, visual social media network known for its disappearing content. Users can send videos and photos to each other or post content to their public Stories, which disappear after 24 hours. The app has expanded to include chat, messaging, image storage, events and media content. Now, content posted on Snapchat can easily be saved and uploaded elsewhere.
Because posts are temporary, there is less pressure to create super-polished content. You can also see how many and which specific users viewed your story. When it comes to Snapchat for business, a small business will most likely utilize the platform’s Stories feature. However, keep in mind that only users who have added you can view your Stories content. Once you have an audience, Stories allows you to easily create story-driven and interactive content.
Google-owned YouTube is a video-sharing platform where people can view, upload, rate, share and comment on content. The site is a massive hub for news and entertainment.
Many businesses on YouTube have a creative, visual or educational component. The platform is heavily creative, so it’s essential to have a dedicated video editor producing content. However, your business doesn’t need a channel to market on the platform; there’s a subculture of YouTube influencers who publish frequent videos and often maintain large audiences.
Often, businesses partner with YouTubers for product placement because these users already have engaged audiences. Using YouTube influencers can be an easier way of marketing your business on the platform since you don’t have to put in the time and effort to create content and build a following, which can take years.
LinkedIn has 260 million monthly users and is the best platform for professional networking. As far as LinkedIn business uses, it’s an excellent place to find top talent, position yourself as an industry leader and promote your business.
LinkedIn is designed to be more professional than other social media platforms and is geared toward businesses and professionals. Users create profiles similar to resumes, and companies can create pages that showcase their business. Because LinkedIn is a professional platform, it’s the best place to post job openings and information about your company culture.
You can join industry-specific LinkedIn Groups to ask and answer questions, which can help you establish brand recognition and bring users to your company page and website. Like on Twitter, it is best to have a mix of original and shared content on your page, so commit to creating polished, professional content related to your business.
TikTok, the relatively new hit platform where users create and share short videos, can be an immensely effective option for businesses, but only if used properly. Because TikTok is primarily popular with the infamously discerning Generation Z, it can be challenging to strike the right tone for business success on the platform.
To use TikTok for business, you need a keen understanding of your brand and how that translates to TikTok specifically. Examine how other businesses are tackling TikTok before trying it yourself.
This largely depends on the type of business and its social media goals. Facebook has the largest audience and the most room to customize your social media marketing. Twitter is the best for receiving feedback from and directly engaging with customers. Pinterest is ideal for small and niche businesses that can market directly on the site. YouTube is arguably the best social media platform for driving traffic to other websites, such as a company landing page where customers can make purchases.
The best social media site is one you can leverage for your business’s specific goals. With that in mind, though, a combination of social media usage on multiple sites will typically yield the best results.
The disadvantages of social media largely depend on the platforms you use, but there are some universal drawbacks.
There is no magic number for social media marketing. While you should probably spend at least a little money on it, how much you get out of your spending will depend on the efficiency of your campaign.
According to WebStrategies, companies typically spend 15% to 25% of their total digital marketing budget on social media. That marks a nice place to start, but you can and should adjust your spending according to your ROI statistics once those numbers are available.
Kiely Kuligowski and Saige Driver contributed to the writing and reporting in this article. Source interviews were conducted for previous versions of this article.
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