We are witnessing a historic shift.
Gary Vaynerchuk CEO of Vayner Media and an early adopter of Social Media has compared the current day to the 1950s when television surpassed radio as the dominate medium in American life. Right now, the shift from television to social is underway and if your business still doesn’t recognize the importance of advertising and marketing on major channels like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram you could be losing money and potential customers. Your customers are on social media, why isn’t your business? Don’t let your competitors leave you in the dust by neglecting social media.
Full disclosure, unlike Gary Vaynerchuk I was a late adopter of social media, a very late adopter. I didn’t get on Facebook until 2014 and didn’t find Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat until I took over part ownership of 1st In SEO. However, I did have a MySpace account for several months back in 2005.
What soon became apparent to me when we took over the business was that social media was driving more than half the traffic to our website and for the customers whose websites we managed. Social media also generated more leads and customer inquiries than any other channel.
The learning curve was steep and I’m still learning, but what also became abundantly clear was that traditional advertising is dead. The days of paying $2000 to run a 30 second commercial during the 11:15 time slot during Days of Lives, are gone. Why spend thousands of dollars on TV advertising when everyone is staring at their phones?
Attention is currency.
Companies spend billions of dollars each year competing for your attention, inundating customers with a deluge of information every time they open an app and finding more creative ways to make phones more addictive, making sure people spend more and more time scrolling through feeds. So how do you as a small business owner get a potential customers attention?
It’s simple, not easy.
Create Valuable Content
One way is to create valuable content and give it away for free. Now before I get into this I’ve heard numerous times that the word “free” implies no value…whatever, don’t get caught up in semantics, in order to effectively market your small business, you need to give away a significant amount of the content you create at “no cost. “
Developing a consistent content strategy will pay dividends and you don’t have to go viral overnight but like Mark Cuban says, “you only have to be right once.” The right piece of content at the right time could catapult your business to new heights.
Although you really want to make sure though that you don’t come off sounding desperate to potential customers, no likes being tagged in a post for supplements they don’t use or some face cream pyramid scam. Don’t annoy people. Customers want solutions to their problems and creating content that helps them solve their problems or satisfies what they are searching for adds value to your brand.
How many times have you searched for something online and not been able to find an answer to your question? It’s incredibly frustrating.
So, if you own a pest control company, writing a blog post or making a video on DIY eco-friendly pest control solutions that teach a customer how to safely eliminate a particular species of ant from his kitchen without accidently killing the entire family with toxic chemicals could help develop a certain level of trust among potential customers that would be hard to get otherwise.
Now If you’re not the best writer or your busy schedule prevents you from devoting 30 minutes a day to writing blog posts then you probably need to hire a writer, you can do that on one of the many freelancer sites that are too numerous to mention here. Typically, a decent writer will run you 3.5 to 5 cents a word or between 70 and 100 dollars for a 2000-word blog post.
Hiring someone to make a video for you can be much more expensive so investing some time in learning how to edit videos with something like iMovie or a similar app would be more than worth your time.
Another content solution is infographics. It’s a well-known fact that 78% of Americans love statistics, that’s a fake statistic but really according to hubspot.com infographics get 3 times more engagement than regular posts. Producing an infographic with stats relevant to your industry is an easy way to get potential customer’s attention. There are several apps that allow you to create professional looking infographics at no cost.
Spend Some Money
Once you have content you need to post it but if you have a Facebook business page you already know that your post only gets in front of a small amount of people unless you promote or boost the post. The good thing is that for a relatively small amount of money you can get your post in front of a targeted audience whose demographics you select. The last thing I want to do is tell a small business owner to spend more money, fortunately advertising on social media is low cost when compared to newspapers, television and radio. For $40-60 you can get a post in front of 3,000 specifically targeted people.
It might be wise to set aside a portion of your marketing budget specifically for social media. Again, it’s worth mentioning that the quality of your content is paramount, don’t spend money on spammy sounding advertisements and then get angry when your engagement numbers don’t match what Facebook promised. Customers hate advertisements, so make sure it’s useful to the customer.
One thing about social media is that there are no set-in stone solutions what worked last year won’t work today. Companies are always updating their algorithms and constantly releasing new features, so staying abreast of new trends is important for a successful social media strategy. Which leads us to our next point.
Understand the Difference Between Platforms
Don’t use hashtags on Facebook, use one or two on Twitter and use up to 30 on Instagram. Understanding what’s appropriate on different networks is important if you want to reach the right audience. Take some time to learn about each platform and do a little research about the best way to get traffic.
This doesn’t mean you have to be perfect right away just keep adjusting your strategy on different networks until you find something that works. Look at what major influencers in your industry are doing to get some ideas. Play to your strengths, if you’re a good public speaker use live video if you’re an introvert rely more on memes or filtered pictures, if you’re a good writer, write. If you have a particular talent use it to your advantage.
You don’t have to post every day most experts recommend 3-5 days a week on Facebook, Instagram and the other social networks. Twitter is the exception. With Twitter, you can post up to ten times a day or more, really as much as you want. The sheer volume of Tweets can make it seem like drinking from a fire hose, so you have to post more often to get your message through all the noise.
It’s also easier to gain followers on Twitter, all you have to do is follow more people. You can easily get tens of thousands of followers without paying for them like you do on your business’s Facebook and Instagram pages.
With so many different networks managing all of them can quickly become overwhelming which leads you to an important choice. Do you hire someone to manage all of your accounts? Do you purchase a monthly subscription service to automate posts? Do you trust one of your employees to manage them? Do you ignore social media or only focus on one or two platforms? It really comes down to how much you value your time and what’s important to you.
One caveat with third party software, Facebook and Instagram continually issue updates and update their terms and conditions to stop third party automation. Twitter doesn’t like it either but is more open to third party software that allows you to easily schedule posts months in advance as well as follow and unfollow followers who don’t follow you back. Facebook lets you schedule posts as well but won’t let you know who unfollowed you.
Third party software allows you to stay consistent without devoting all of your time to social media. There are some great services out there like HootSuite, Sendible and Crowdfire. They have similar packages that allow you to manage multiple accounts across multiple platforms all in one place. Packages usually start around $29.99 and go up from there.
Engage with Customers
More engagement means more social signals. Social signals are followers, likes, shares, retweets, pins etc. and they filter out to search engines, giving you more authority and helping you rank better organically. Despite what anyone says, social media has a huge effect on search rankings. In fact, some SEO experts have floated the idea that social signals are becoming more important than backlinks for SEO.
As more and more traffic comes through social media it’s becoming more important for small businesses to be and stay active. Engaging with customers is a simple way to raise brand awareness and help your search ranking. If customers are talking about you on social media positively or even negatively more than likely it will be reflected in better search results.
Make sure to respond to comments, both negative and positive, 53% of customers are more loyal to brands that they follow on social media. As a general rule, it’s best to be polite when responding to negative comments but if someone crosses the line and becomes abusive it’s best to flag their comments and block them.
Social Media Management
With so many factors to contend with it might be wise to hire a professional social media manager. A good social media management team will sit down with you and develop a comprehensive strategy to effectively represent your business. They devote the time to growing your social media presence in a way that stays true to your brand allowing you to focus on your specialty and the things that make your business great.
Typically, professional social media management will run anywhere from $200 to 1000 a month depending on a number of different factors from frequency of posts to the number of platforms managed. It all comes down to what your time is worth.
Before you hire someone make sure you take a look at the other companies they represent. Does there past work demonstrate a well thought out carefully planned strategy or are they just posting random articles? Do the companies they represent have a large presence? Do they use video consistently? Are their posts getting any engagement? These are all important factors to consider.
Granted some industries can be difficult to find appropriate content for, a septic service or plumber might need to branch out a little bit more than a law office or a hair stylist. An experienced social media manager will take all of this into account and find creative marketing strategies to overcome any obstacles your business presents.
Hiring an experienced social media management team can help your small or mid-sized business grow and with more than 2 billion people with active social media accounts and 90% of Fortune 500 companies using social networks for marketing purposes it’s imperative that your small business is represented professionally.