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Social Media & Small Businesses: Why Social Is Vital


Blog Article

The power of social media is crazy. There’s so much potential to get yourself and your content out there in front of the right people, so it’s vital for small businesses to be present on social media.

Luckily, you don’t need to master every channel (phew), just the ones where your business will find the most value. The big four are typically Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

But don’t worry. We’re here to guide you through the seemingly daunting task of kickstarting your social presence. Before we get stuck in, for any burning questions you can get in touch with us via Instagram, LinkedIn or our contact form.

Let’s get stuck in with how to use social media for your small business!

Why use social

An interesting piece of research from The UK Domain and smallbusiness.co.uk highlights the reasons why 25% of entrepreneurs don’t use social for their small businesses.

Check the video below for an insight into the reasons people think social won’t work for them:

  • 24% said social isn’t relevant to their industry
  • 23% said they don’t know how to use it
  • 23% said they don’t have the time
  • 15% said they have enough customers already
  • 15% claimed other reasons

What this boils down to is not understanding the scope and potential of social media. Social is probably one of the easiest and cheapest ways to build an audience, spread brand awareness and increase sales; as long as you have at least some idea of what you’re doing.

On the flip side of these stats, 75% of small business owners DO use social media for their business in some way.

  • 29% use it for brand awareness
  • 26% use it for increasing customer engagement
  • 20% use it for making sales
  • 16% use it to drive traffic to their site
  • 7% use it to build their email list
  • 2% use it for other reasons

Look at all that potential. Surely you’d want to capitalise on the above if you could.

How can social media help a small business?

The main benefits are creating brand awareness, making sales, driving website traffic and customer engagement. Read below for the importance of social media for a small business.

Brand awareness

When you’re active on social, you reach your followers and customers, but also people who may have never heard of you. Even if you’re not directly selling, this is invaluable.

Humanising your business is part of this. Living and breathing your values, having a personality and showing some of the people behind your brand works wonders. Users then see you less like a business after their money and more like an engaged member of the community. Social excels at humanising your brand as you can quickly and easily talk with users!

Thought leadership is another massive part of brand awareness. Sharing relevant news, insight into the industry, tips and tricks and blog posts establishes your business as the go-to for knowledge in a niche area. When they think of a certain topic, they’ll think of you.

Being constantly active is another amazing way to stay top of mind of your followers. Regularly posting, following, liking and engaging means you’ll always be on your users’ screens.

Making sales

Any social media platform you’re on should be included as part of your sales funnel. Every once in a while, it doesn’t hurt to shout about your products or services. Posting links to products, offers and flash sales are a great way to boost sales.

If you sell products, you can link your inventory to Facebook and Instagram so users can complete the buying processes within the app. This is the level of convenience most social users are after, so it’s vital to link product feeds.

Site traffic

Getting people on your site is made that bit easier with social. From sharing blog posts and offering free trials to simply having your site link in your bio, there’s great potential for referral traffic. Tracking users from social is easy in Google Analytics, something that you should definitely be keeping an eye on.

Customer engagement

You can interact with potential customers in a second. DMs, comments, sharing posts etc. make engaging with your audience easier than ever. Joining the conversation and answering questions is super easy, and you can also carry out social listening. This is where you search for your brand name, competitors or industry terms to see how people feel and what they’re saying. This is a great way to check the general mood and find any pain points of potential customers to inform your messaging.

Getting users involved is another great way to drive customer engagement. Giveaway competitions give people a chance to win some freebies in exchange for sharing your post and you can even use positive interactions as customer testimonials. There’s so much you can do!

What to do and how to do it

If you’re thinking “but I don’t know how to use it”, we’ve got you covered. We’ll run through the social media basics for small businesses so you can easily get stuck in and enjoy the benefits.

Before we get into any sort of strategy talk, first you need to nail your profile. Whatever platform you’re on, you should fill in as much information as possible. In your bio, describe what you do in your tone of voice, but keep it short (and don’t forget to link to your website!)

Upload a profile picture, usually your logo, and include a header image if you can. Your header should be attention-grabbing, on-brand and include some sort of information about what you do.

For Instagram and Facebook, make sure that you create a business page. This will give you certain features (including shoppable products and analytics) which help massively. Being able to tag products in a post on Instagram is a great way of shortening the buying process for customers.

Once your profile is set up, it’s time to get a social strategy in place. If your main goal is to promote the brand, posting topical content in your industry and sharing helpful pieces of content might make up the bulk of your posts.

If you’re after pure sales, sharing visually-appealing shots with tagged products will take precedent. But whatever your main goal, it’s important to try all types of content. The important thing is to test and see what types of content work on which platform.

For example:

We know from tests that text posts from a personal LinkedIn profile tend to get more engagement than any other type. The opposite is true for LinkedIn Company Pages, with video seeing the best engagement rate.

Quality, professionally-shot images tend to see better performance on Instagram, along with engaging video content.

But it’s down to your industry, audience and goal.

The main pillars of a basic social strategy

  • Being Active: using the platforms to engage with users – daily

  • Planning Ahead: coming up with ideas, creating a schedule – weekly / bi-weekly / monthly

  • Posting Frequently: creating the posts on each platform, sharing and responding to comments – daily

  • Looking Back: after a few days, looking back on the post’s performance in order to inform your next planning phase – weekly

Being Active

You can’t just sign up to a platform, post your content and that’s that. In order for it to properly work and for you to see some tangible results, you MUST be active!

Now this doesn’t mean messaging every single one of your followers or having the app open all day. This means just spending 10-20 minutes a day scrolling through your feed, liking, commenting and sharing.

First, this builds brand awareness. You’re interacting with people in more ways than just a post. And second, this helps you to create relationships with your followers. You’ll quickly spot users who always interact with you, and that’s what you want. We call people who always give a like and a comment ‘superfans’.

Don’t be afraid to shout out other businesses on an Instagram story, or reshare one of your followers’ pics. You build an engaged following who care about your content by showing you care about them.

Planning ahead

The more of a head-start you get on creating content and scheduling it in, the less pressure you’ll feel when managing your channels.

So instead of scrambling every day to find an asset and come up with a post, spend a few hours, a morning or even a whole day dedicated to creating social media posts for the next one or two weeks.

All you’ll have to do on the day is copy, paste and post! Avoid scheduling apps where possible as they limit your reach.

This also means you can think ahead to upcoming events in your industry, relevant holidays and national days. This is probably one of the most important steps, so make sure you have at least some form of a plan when it comes to the next week’s posts.

Below is how our calendar looks for an idea of how to do it.

Social Media Calendar Planner Example

Posting Frequently

For LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook, posting once a day is the best way to see results. On Twitter, posting multiple times a day is effective. Don’t let this intimidate you though as it’s easier than it sounds, especially if you already have a bank of photos, videos and other assets. Posting daily builds momentum, even if your content isn’t the most groundbreaking.

Looking Back

It doesn’t end when you press that post button. You need to track each post’s performance to see if what you’re doing is working. Different post types perform better than others, so a video getting more likes than just text or an image doesn’t mean you should only use video.

This is where you begin to refine the process. You might find that certain days are best for engagement or that your audience is active later in the evening rather than mid-day. Once you have a basic understanding of when, what, how and why to post, it becomes so much easier.

Social Media Analytics

Having a business account on Facebook and Instagram is vital as this allows you to look at analytics, seen below.

Types of Posts

Below are a few social media ideas for small businesses. Keep your feed fresh by choosing five different types a week, rather than always posting the same thing. If one of these tends to do better, make it a regular occurrence.

Blog posts

Sharing blogs is an easy way to turn a piece of content into a post. But don’t just put the link, write the title and ask users to read it, give them a reason to want to learn more. Break down some of the most interesting points or pull out key stats to draw attention. You can always use an image from the blog post to accompany your post if needed too.

User-Generated Content (UGC)

Another easy and cost-effective type of social media post is UGC. Instead of having to create the content yourself, get your users to. If you’ve got an engaged following, your users will be more than happy to send in content for you to reshare. Don’t forget to credit the original poster!

If your following isn’t quite there yet, reach out to a user, tell them you love their content and ask if they wouldn’t mind you sharing it. If they say yes, they’ll likely give you a shout out too. This is a great way to build an engaged audience of people who want to get involved.

Shout Outs

This type of post tends to work best as an Instagram or Facebook Story. Tag a few users and give them a shout out. This can be others in your industry or just some businesses you love. People will usually reciprocate by resharing your original shout out post on their story and tagging you in it. This way, you both get some new eyes on your profile. It might not be best to do this with direct competitors but similar businesses in your industry.

Breaking News

Along with sharing blog posts, reporting breaking industry news is another great way to cement your small business as the go-to for a certain topic. Keep your followers updated on the latest happenings and put your own thoughts down and explain what this means for you, for them and for the industry.

Giveaways

You don’t have to offer a product to host a giveaway. People love free things, so something like a £50 John Lewis voucher will do the trick. Or you can partner with another local business who can offer a product for double the exposure.

Entry requirements will differ depending on what your goal is. You can ask people to follow you and tag their friends in the comments. Or you can ask them to share the post to their timeline or story. There’s loads of potential here, but make sure you don’t make it too complicated as fewer people will enter if there are too many steps.

Testimonials, Reviews and Case Studies

Sharing reviews is another great way to build brand awareness and trust. Whether it’s from Google My Business, your website or even a nice message you received, these can all be turned into nice graphics to show off what your customers are saying about you.

Behind the scenes

Showing off the people behind the business is a great way to humanise the brand. Shots around the office work well, giving your followers an insight into the people behind the brand. These types of posts work well as Instagram Stories.

Quotes, memes and jokes

Don’t be afraid to use humour, as long as it fits with your brand. Posting funny quotes or relatable memes shows your followers your sense of humour and makes you more relatable. The more industry-niche the joke, the more relatable to your target audience.

Tips

Now you’ve got the basics, here are some social media tips for small businesses so you can make the most of your presence.

Stay on brand

Whichever social platform you’re on, don’t forget that it’s an extension of your brand. Of course, there are differences between platforms, with LinkedIn being a bit more professional compared to the reactive and informal nature of Twitter. But you should still consider your Tone of Voice at all times, especially when speaking directly to users.

Scheduling

So when it comes to scheduling, we wouldn’t recommend using anything that posts automatically for you. Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook and Instagram can tell when you’re using a scheduling tool and are known to limit your reach.

Instead, plan it in a calendar and then actually create each post every day. If you’ve already written out the content and have the assets, it only takes five minutes.

Repurposing content

Certain types of content can be easily turned into social posts. Take some interesting facts or figures out of a blog post to turn into some shareable graphics. Take a 10-second snippet of a video to share on your Instagram Story. Chop up a lengthy infographic into various posts of smaller graphics. There are loads of ways you can repurpose any type of content into something new, meaning you don’t always have to come up with something brand new every day.

Don’t neglect your personal LinkedIn account

Your personal LinkedIn account is a goldmine if used properly. Using it to share insights and personal experiences is an amazing way of getting more eyes on your profile, and in turn your company.

To build an engaged following on LinkedIn, you should connect with as many relevant people as possible, post every day and comment your thoughts on other posts. You can spark up conversations with potential customers or clients without having to sell anything. We could write a whole post on the potential of personal LinkedIn profiles, so we’ll leave it at that for now.

Make sure you engage with other accounts!

This is maybe one of THE most important social media tips for your small business: engage with other accounts! Like people’s posts, comment on things you find interesting, share other businesses’ posts to your story. Being active and spreading love is one of the best ways to organically grow your profile.

Getting someone else to do it for you

If you really don’t have the time, having a specialist run your accounts can really take the pressure off. Here at Honchō, we offer expert social media management services to make your life easier. Get in touch with us to learn more about what we can do for you. Or drop us a follow on LinkedIn to stay up to date with the latest social and search marketing developments!

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Find out more about how we can maximise your search marketing performance. Fill in the form below or call us on 01438 870220.

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Social Media & Small Businesses: Why Social Is Vital

Social Media & Small Businesses: Why Social Is Vital