Social media has become an important part of online marketing in the past few years. It is a useful marketing tool for small businesses and startups because the cost of entry is very low and it can be quite effective. However you need a small business or startup social media marketing strategy if you are going to get the most out of these platforms.
The potential social media marketing benefits in implementing an effective strategy can be incredible:
- Increased customer engagement
- Improved customer service
- Brand awareness
- Increased avenues for distributing marketing materials
- More website traffic
- Better search engine rankings and much more
The following social media marketing tips can help you create a successful campaign and obtain these great benefits for your business.
One of the most difficult challenges for small businesses and startups is finding marketing strategies that are effective while offering a great return on investment (ROI). When most businesses are starting out, they simply don’t have the capital available for large advertising campaigns. It is a difficult problem because a new business requires a great deal of exposure to attract their first customers and reach profitability.
Social media is a perfect solution for this problem! It is simple to perform and offers a fantastic ROI if your business uses the right strategy. A great social media marketing strategy can reach millions of people around the world. There are also social media virtual assistant services available to further reduce the financial outlay required by your business.
Social media statistics
To better illustrate the incredible social media marketing benefits available, here are a few statistics surrounding social media.
- Over 74% of all Internet users use social media and 90% of young people use social media
- For the 18-49 age demographic, YouTube has more viewers than any cable television network
- Globally, there are more than 49 billion monthly active Facebook users, which is a 13% increase on the previous year
- The number of social media users is expected to reach 5 billion by 2018
Social media is expected to continue growing in the coming years and will become a more important avenue for online marketing. The question that small businesses and startups face is — how to develop an effective social media strategy that works?
The importance of developing a startup social media strategy
Before jumping in with both feet, it is important to develop a strategy that will be effective for your business. The first step is to decide how you wish to present your business on social media. This should be based on the nature of your business and the product or service it sells.
For example, a young startup that is marketing a quirky product to young consumers might portray themselves in a casual way on social media — making jokes, being funny and rapidly engaging with social media users. On the other hand, a company that is targeting business people may prefer to present themselves as being very professional, knowledgeable and insightful on social media. They might prefer to share interesting business articles and infographics via social media instead of cracking jokes.
The type of social media persona that matches your business will often dictate the types of social media you should focus on. The fun startup targeting young people might focus on Instagram and Twitter while the startup targeting business people might focus on LinkedIn and Facebook. Think about how your business should present itself in the social space and never stray from that brand.
Develop long-term social media goals
The next step is to create some goals for your business. Large established businesses may use social media in every way possible, but a small business or startup will benefit from honing in on two or three social media goals.
Some of the most common goals for social media include:
- Building authority -You might want your business to be known as an expert in a particular area. You can share useful information, solve problems and answer questions via social media. Your business will eventually be known as an expert source on topics relating to your industry.
- Sharing your valuable content – Social media is ideal for sharing the content that you generate and increasing traffic to your website. The content you share on social media might include links, useful articles, blog posts, sales notifications and details of new products — anything which will give a social media user incentive to visit your website.
- Increasing brand awareness – This is a common goal of startups, who are interested in telling consumers about their business.
- Improving search engine rankings – The more times your website is mentioned via social media and the more incoming links your website has, the higher it will rank in search engines.
- Generating leads – You could take a sales-orientated approach and focus on generating leads via social media.
- Providing support – Your business can communicate with customers and sales prospects via social media. Consumers respond very positively to businesses who are active on social media and are responsive to their questions.
Choose which social media platforms to use
Now that you have a goal in mind and an understanding of how you wish to represent your business online, you should choose which social media websites to use. There are thousands of social media websites online, many of which cater to very specific audiences.
A common strategy is to concentrate on 4 or 5 of the biggest social media websites. The biggest players include:
- Facebook: Facebook is the world’s largest social media website and very useful for improving your businesses brand exposure.
- Twitter: A very simple messaging service, where users send and share short messages with one another — very useful for providing support, promoting your business and sharing resources.
- LinkedIn: A social network focused on helping people build professional networks. Very useful for businesses who are targeting professionals in specific markets.
- Google+: Google’s answer to Facebook, it has 300 million monthly active users and is growing at a rapid pace.
- YouTube: YouTube is the largest video sharing website in the world. It is very useful for businesses interested in promoting video content and communicating directly with consumers.
- Pinterest: This is an image sharing website where users collect their favourite images and communicate with others. Businesses who sell products can benefit from posting images of their products and communicating with users.
- Instagram: Instagram works in a similar way to Pinterest and is very useful for marketers with image content. Instagram also allows users to upload short videos which can be easily shared through Instagram or to other social networks.
- Tumblr: Tumblr is a microblogging website and a fantastic space for a business to create content.
It is important to choose social media sites that align with your business goals and branding.
Use a social media marketing template
It helps to be very methodical when posting content to social media. Content needs to be added regularly and you will need to check your social media profiles for responses from customers. A social media marketing template can help you keep on top of your marketing schedule and obtain great results. Some common social media marketing templates include:
Social media accounts list
Your business may end up with a dozen or more social media profiles. It is important to have a social media marketing template document that holds all of the information relating to these accounts — social network, profile URL, username and so on.
This document is used to schedule the posting of new content. The calendar should include the title of the content, links to supporting documents, writer details, deadline, and the social media channels it will be promoted on. If this sounds like a daunting prospect you could always consider contacting a virtual marketing content coordinator.
Twitter Messages Template
For some social networks like Twitter, you may send out a stream of messages throughout the day. It is more efficient to create these messages in one sitting, then use an application to send them to Twitter throughout the day. This document will store the message, post date and URL to include in the message. Social media virtual assistant services can also be used to perform these kinds of menial tasks.
Video is increasingly important
Video content is increasingly a major part of social media. Aside from YouTube, videos made through Vimeo, Instagram, Vine, and Snapchat are easily shared and sent through various social media channels.
If your small business or startup is capable of creating high-quality video content, you can reach thousands of people and dramatically improve brand awareness. If you create informative video content, you will also be able to improve your businesses authority.
Don’t forget forums!
Forums are one of the original tools for social interaction online. They are still a valuable marketing tool and should not be neglected in your marketing campaign. Look for forums that focus on your industry and/or product. Make regular contributions and help users with problems to gain a positive reputation for your business.
Use social media to build relationships and community
The power of social networks is that they allow people to communicate in a way that benefits both parties. Typically, this is done in a casual, conversational manner.
Make sure you maintain that personal and conversational tone in your social media content. Don’t send out robotic sales pitches that read like advertisements. Instead, send friendly messages that offer value to your readers or viewers.
The end-game in social media is to establish a large community of loyal customers that supports your business in the long term. To achieve this, you must use social media as a two-way form of communication and not just another avenue to “pitch” a product.
Constantly review and evaluate
Social media is one of the fastest moving parts of the Internet. New social startups are coming online everyday and some social media websites are gradually declining. Because of the rapidly changing scene, you should constantly review how effective your social media strategy is.
Are people still responding well to your tweets? Is the money you are investing in video production paying off? You can use analytics tools to help you answer questions about your return on investment from social media. Be prepared to change tactics a few times and learn from your mistakes.
We hope you enjoyed “Small business and startup social media strategies”. If you would like to find out how we could support your social media marketing or learn about our other virtual personal assistant services feel free to contact us on 0800 994 9016 or click here to request a free consultation.
- The beginner’s guide to Facebook small business marketing
- Beginner’s guide for Twitter business marketing
- Social media marketing ideas – how to keep content engaging