Are you not sure where to start with your social media? Need some of those great apps to kick-start you into having a rocking online profile? Here are Becky Amon's top 5 tips for Social Media for Small Business.
The Sensis Social Media Report 2017 found that eight in ten Australians are now using some form of social media, with Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter dominating as the most-used platforms. With such high usage and viewership, social media is a fantastic marketing tool for businesses large and small to not only advertise their products, but also to form value-exchange relationships with potential customers. However, as social media becomes more and more saturated with business accounts, it is becoming harder to stand out from the crowd. The frequent changes in feed algorithms (which dictate what content is shown and in what order on platforms such as Facebook and Instagram) also make it harder for business content to be seen, unless the content is funded through paid advertising. Social media marketing is no longer simply about the pretty pictures and using the right hashtags. There are apps that can help you schedule and create content to become more competitive, but subscriptions for these tools aren’t always part of a small business budget.
Now, I’d like to note that I’m certainly not a seasoned marketing expert with years of experience. There are professionals out there that can talk you through algorithms, analytics and the nitty-gritty of paid advertising. But, as I’ve noticed through conversations with small business owners and entrepreneurs, not everyone has the time or resources to learn the intricate details of social media when they’re trying to focus on the day-to-day running of their business, as well as personal commitments outside of work. You don’t need to be posting five times a day or attracting tens of thousands of followers for your social media to effectively attract potential customers. Creating quality content and devising a simple strategy is a great starting point. Through my study, listening to tons of podcasts (I love podcasts!) and trying out social media strategies on real business accounts, I feel that I’ve learnt enough to share some basic tips with you that helped me, and might help you, get started in social media or improve your social media skills for business.
I’m going to share with you my five top tips that I’ve gathered through my experience so far using social media as a marketing tool for small businesses. Hopefully these will be useful for you, regardless of whether your business is service or product based, as they are geared towards constant learning and creating quality content. So here they are…
1. Listen to Podcasts!
I absolutely LOVE podcasts. You can listen to them almost anywhere, so they are easy to incorporate them into your daily routine. I like to listen to podcasts as I drive to and from work each day, when I’m ironing, or even doing the dishes.
There are heaps of great podcasts out there geared towards social media and business marketing. Some of them go into in-depth and technical discussions such as data privacy and Facebook ad scaling, which can be really interesting, but you can certainly find others that keep their content relevant to small businesses and discuss topics such as choosing the right hashtags and how to create a Facebook Ad. Listening to this sort of content regularly is a great way to keep up to date with current trends and changes across different social media platforms and will help you tweak your social media strategies accordingly.
I would highly recommend checking out the following podcasts to start out:
2. Be Consistent
As I mentioned earlier, you don’t have to be posting five times a day to show you’re followers that you’re active online and for your social media content to send the right message and reach the right audience. Realistically, even posting once per day can be struggle with day jobs, kids, keeping your business running and not to mention a social life (that’s face to face social!). I recommend picking two to four days per week – a number of days realistic for you to be posting - and to keep these days consistent each week. It’s a really good idea to consider analytics such as Facebook and Instagram insights when picking your days and times to post – I will discuss insights in tip 3.
You can schedule posts within Facebook (that is, create a post and schedule it to go live at a particular date and time), but some platforms such as Instagram don’t have this feature. There are apps like Buffer , Hootsuite and Loomly, just to name a few, that allow you to plan and schedule your content across multiple platforms. However, you often need to pay to use these sorts of apps and these costs won’t always fit into the advertising budget for many small businesses and start-ups. I generally plan my posts for the week on a Sunday afternoon (you can choose a day and time that works for you) and I save the images and captions on my phone. I often use Reminders on my phone to send me an alert about 5 minutes before I want to do each post. You might use sticky notes or an email reminder – use what works for you!
It’s not just the posting itself that needs to be consistent – you should also consider your brand message, aesthetic style and voice. Being consistent with these elements of social media will ensure that you maintain a clear brand and that people will learn to recognise your content. My number one app for creating consistent images, particularly for Facebook and Instagram, is Canva. This app can be used free, or upgraded to a premium account for additional features. You can save your brand colours, fonts, logos and favourite layouts to help ensure your content is consistent and there is also a wide range of royalty-free images that you can use or edit for your socials. Adobe Spark post is also a great image-creating tool to consider.
3. Look at Your Insights
There are free analytics right at your fingertips – use them! Platforms like Facebook, Instagram have free analytics summaries for business accounts. On Facebook, this can be accessed from your business page through the ‘Insights’ tab and on Instagram you can access analytics insights through the small column graph symbol at the top right hand side of your business profile (please see the images below; I have indicated the highlights feature with a yellow circle). Insights on different apps will be set out in different ways and may give you slightly different information, but they are extremely useful. Information about your followers such as their age, where they live and when they are usually active on the chosen social media platform is highly valuable in both understanding your target market and choosing the best times to post content (remember schedules and being consistent!). Information about your post success including statistics on reach, website clicks and promotion summaries will also help you identify what types of content are working well on your profile and might point you in the right direction with what sort of content works best between different platforms. I recommend checking your insights at least weekly to keep track of your content and audience, to see what’s working and what’s not working.
4. Be Interactive
Remember that posting on your feed or story isn’t the only type of content you can create on social media. Interacting with your followers and like-minded businesses is an invaluable way of creating more content and implementing value exchanges that reflect your business goals. At her recent Tamworth event for her regional tour, Lisa Messenger mentioned that interacting with your followers and other business profiles is a way to display your authenticity and values as a business (absolutely agree, Lisa!). This sort of value-exchange content could be as simple as spending a few minutes each day commenting messages of support on like-minded businesses doing great things in their field, sharing articles or blogs supporting like-minded businesses, or sending a thank you message to followers that share your content. Actions like this display your values as a business and make your social profile more ‘human’ and interactive. As a result, followers may find you more approachable and are more likely to consider doing business with you or perhaps even wanting to collaborate. Not to mention, engaging with your followers will also allow you to learn more about them and what they might be looking for in your business.
5. Have Fun
This might sound silly, but honestly, you do need to have fun with social media. You can take it very seriously, use all the advice from experts, and sometimes still have a post that only reaches a few hundred people. Social media platforms, the way they display their content and the types of content that you can create on them change so frequently it can be hard to keep up, particularly for busy small business owners. Sometimes, it’s just trial and error. Sometimes, a post just doesn’t quite capture an audience the way you hoped it would. And that’s okay – we know that next time we might need to take a different approach.
There’s no point in taking on a Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and Snapchat account for your business. It’s not possible, if you’re both running a business and running it’s social media platforms, to post consistent, quality content over too many different platforms. Choose one or two platforms that capture your target market and that you are comfortable in using consistently, and make a small commitment to managing them well, even if you can only post once a week.
Play with image design, experiment with new features and try out tips that you hear in those podcasts – the more you experiment, the more you will learn and hopefully the more your following and potential client base will grow!
Becky Amon has just finished her Bachelor of Media and Communications at the University of New England and after working as an intern for Savvy Birds, has now come on board as a Social Media & Marketing Advisor. She has a passion for learning about small businesses, digital marketing and how to best harness social media for marketing success. Becky is thrilled to be able to learn and grow with Savvy Birds.