By jiathong on June 13, 2018
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When you’re a small business owner, you can either pay $300-$800 to put up a small billboard for 4 weeks or spend 6 hours a week to promote your business on a free social media site.
I’m not saying free is better, but when you know how to do it well, why not?
So here’s a step by step guide for your venture into the world of social media marketing. Does that sound scary? Well really it’s just like telling your friends to try out your stuff, but on the internet.
No big, fancy, intimidating words, I promise. Now let’s get started.
I personally spend more time on Twitter than Facebook but that doesn’t mean you do too, right?
If you want to start building your business presence on social media sites, the one you’re the most familiar with might not be the best one for your business.
There is a handful of social media sites that you can choose from: Facebook, Instagram, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest etc.
So which one should you choose? Well, the one where your customers are!
Let’s look at some basic info of these 6 major social media sites to help you decide.
It is obvious that Facebook is the champion in terms of active users. 1 billion people that can potentially be your customer sounds fantastic right?
Well, it is fantastic. In fact, 68% of US adults use Facebook. So if you’re not sure where your customers like to hang out, at least some of them will be on Facebook.
The most prominent feature of Facebook is how users can share posts from others.
Create share-worthy contents so that your initial followers will share it with their friends. And their friends can share it with their other friends.
That way, you can make the most out of the 1 billion Facebook users and hopefully, actually, reach those who will buy from you.
What do people usually share? Well, discounts and promotions work the best.
Pinterest on the other hand has only 70 million active users, that number is an infant compared to those of Facebook.
But here’s the thing, their user demographic is also much narrower, which means there might just be where your customers are.
Look at this, 68% percent of Pinterest users are females. Are your customers mostly female?
Pinterest is also a visual discovery site. Do you perhaps bake cupcakes with customizable intricate frosting? Pinterest might just be where the millions of cupcake lovers hang out.
There, you got your social media site pick.
Point taken: If you know your customers, find out which social media site they hang out at. But if your customers are really everyone possible, Facebook is your safe bet.
Place your focus on one site and grow it is a good strategy. But if you want to spread out, I won’t stop you.
Before you do that though, let me ask you a question. Why?
Managing multiple social media profiles will take up more time than just having one.
If your twitter is just endless automatic sharing tweets of your Instagram post, why bother?
You’ll probably feel annoyed if the radio, newspaper, TV shows and your neighbor is all talking about the exact same thing. Your customers feel the same.
Of course, there will be people who only have Twitter. Perhaps they only do their shopping research on Instagram. Then being on multiple platforms can extend your outreach.
What you need to do is make use of the prominent features of specific social sites.
You don’t post the same thing on your Pinterest and Twitter, your business shouldn’t be otherwise.
Twitter is a microblogging platform so post your 300 words promotion pitch on Facebook instead.
Your cupcake photo is cute but it will work better on Pinterest compared to Facebook.
Take into account the different demographics active in different social media sites. Some might be more interested in your baked goods photos. While others will have more interest in the kind of events you have served.
Point taken: Different social media sites exist for different reasons, you should use each of them for different reasons too.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, customers won’t suddenly start rolling in after 2 weeks of social media marketing efforts.
It may take up to a year before you have a profitable following online. Just remember that everything takes time. Stay patient and stay committed.
Develop a schedule that works with your social media audience. Publish posts when they are the most active to achieve maximum momentum.
Allocate an hour or less a day to scroll through the comments you have received, check how many likes and share or perhaps retweets you have, reply any inquiries etc.
Make it a habit and integrate it into your daily tasks. That way you can avoid creating another business profile that got abandoned in the webs of social media sites.
Branding is a big word, so what about showing them what you are?
In order to stand out in the crowded business scene, you need to establish something that people can associate to you at once.
It doesn’t have to be all grand and purposeful. You can simply be “Male haircuts in 10 minutes guaranteed” or “Your trusty 24 hours plumbing service”.
Now treat that as the motto of your business. Don’t just say it, you have to deliver. And by delivering promises you are building your brand.
More often than not, someone who visits your social media profile does it more out of curiosity.
They want to find out who you are, what you do, where you are, what do you have, are you any good etc.
The point is they are not looking to buy anything from you yet. The worst you can do is scare them away from becoming an actual customer.
You can post about your product but make it in a way that’s more informative than sales pitching.
You might ask what can you post if it’s not about your business?
The thing is you need to understand that your business social media profile doesn’t need to be only about your business.
Greet your followers a good day, make a 4th of July post or even a TGIF (Thank God It’s Friday) posts. Post stuffs that your customers can relate to.
So make it a good mix between of greeting posts, promotional posts and behind the scene posts.
Utilise photos, illustrations, quotes, videos, and texts to show a variety of contents. That way you can stay fresh and your followers won’t be bored with the same thing every day.
This little # sign can make a big difference to your social media presence if used correctly that is.
Hashtag should only be made up of alphabets and numbers, no special symbols and no spaces. There is no difference between a capitalized and non capitalized hashtag. However, properly capitalized hashtag does make it easier to read.
A correctly formed hashtag can usually be noted by its blue font color.
One thing that is common for hashtags is they should be related to your post. It can be your location, your business category, a celebrated festival or even specifically coined ones to encourage conversation on a topic.
The easiest way to use a hashtag (noun) is to hashtag (verb, confusing I know) the topic of your posts. Like this post celebrating #MothersDay by McDonald’s.
The rule of thumb is to not use more than 3 hashtags in a post, even using 3 is pushing it.
Abusing hashtags on Twitter is especially frowned upon. As an avid Twitter user myself, I can tell you that a tweet made up of hashtags will be promptly ignored.
Like what McDonald’s did, you can and should definitely try to chime in on current events. Plan your mother’s day post, father’s day post, independence day post, Merry Christmas post, you name it.
Take mother’s day as an example, you can use the opportunity to ask your followers question. Such as what is your mom’s favorite meal for a mother’s day dinner?
Ask some questions that can be useful to you. That way you can collect helpful information and at the same time engage with your audience.
Continuing with the mother’s day theme, mother’s day is a big celebration. So instead of making just one post on the day itself, you can plan a series of posts.
Maybe a reminder post one week before the actual day, a mother’s day promotion before the actual day arrives and of course a post to appreciate all the mothers around the world on the day itself.
The point here is, you can develop and make full use of your contents to build a stronger impression.
Have you realized how I’ve been using mother’s day as an example topic across three tips?
Does it make an easier read for you now that I’m not jumping examples from plumbers to barber to baker? It does make my writing process easier though. It will make yours easier too.
One feature that is a staple across all the social media sites is inserting images. You can add one or more pictures to your Facebook posts and you definitely need a picture if you’re even thinking about posting on Instagram and Pinterest.
You need to take advantage of that. Post engaging pictures that can attract eyeballs.
Bakeries, delis, diners, and restaurants have an advantage here because who doesn’t like a photo of a good meal?
If you’re a plumber, no, stop focusing your camera on the plunger people wouldn’t want it on their facebook feed.
A photo with your happy customers would be nice instead. And that actually applies to all businesses.
Or perhaps a little behind the scene photo before you head out to rescue another clogged kitchen sink.
A simple photo can tell a big story, so share your stories using photos. Everyone likes a good story.
I have shared with you a lot of tips about what to post, but at the end of the day the most important thing to consider is this, will your customers like it?
If you’re a little mom and pops store and you know Rebecca’s five-year-old son Taylor likes puppies, perhaps you can post some cute puppies photo.
If you just started up and don’t really know your customers yet, you gotta imagine how your customers will be.
Are they in their 20s or 40s? Are they married? What is their job? Then try to look for a topic that would interest them.
When you know what they like and you post what they like, in return, they will like you more.
This might not apply to every business out there but if you’re doing a beauty business, this is relevant.
There’s a lot of beauty gurus on the web that has a huge following. If you know who they are you can try to reach out to them.
Perhaps give them a sponsor and in return, they might talk about you. Then their thousands of followers will know about you and perhaps will become your customer.
A lot of those influencers has a P.O box where people can send them stuff. The chance that they will notice you might not be that high but hey, at least you tried.
A social platform is meant to be interactive. Do some digging around to see whether people are talking about you.
Of course, some would leave you a comment or mention directly but some might not. Especially if you just started out and people aren’t aware of your social media presence yet.
Customers feedback is important. Without it, you can’t really know what you did right or did wrong.
So keep an eye out of what people are talking about you. Or better yet, reach out and tell your customers about your social media profile and they might start leaving you messages and comments.
If there are bad comments, curb it and try to make what’s wrong right again. If there are good comments, yes you’re doing the right thing and now you got free promotion.
Word of mouth is still an important way of promotion. So if people are gonna talk, make sure that they talk good.
We’re at step 14 now, have you sighed a little and think that this is quite a lot of work? Well, it doesn’t have to be.
You should keep a calendar and keep note of what to do every day. That way you won’t confuse yourself and get things mixed up.
Get your posts planned out at least a week ahead. When the day arrives you don’t have to spend hours researching and thinking about what to post. Since you already got it all planned out.
Everyone should keep a calendar on everything anyways. So why not a calendar for your social media posts too?
Perhaps 3 months, 6 months, 12 months down the road you will have grown a decent number of following. Hey, that’s great right? But it might also be too much for you to handle on your own anymore.
You still have a business to run, the day to day operations, accounts, and on top of all of that, you need to maintain an active social media account.
The thing is, you don’t have to do it all alone. If your social media presence has grown so much it probably means your customers have grown too.
At this point, you should probably think about making a budget for either some tools for managing social media accounts or hiring someone that can handle it for you.
There’s still a lot of options out there, so explore and choose the one that is the best for you.
With 69% of US adults on social media sites, you really don’t want to miss out on this huge opportunity to promote yourself.
Everything is so user-friendly now I’m sure you can handle it like a pro in no time.
Still remember the first tip? Now it’s time to find out where your customers hang out online and get started.
Updated: 14 November 2019
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