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Social Media Marketing Strategies for Small Businesses

Social Media Marketing Strategies for Small Businesses – A Beginner’s Guide

Social Media is Marketing

It’s become clear that social media is no longer marketing’s new entity. It’s now simply part of the way we do marketing today. Yes, social media is still a wonderful place for brands to have a little fun, but it also has a real and measurable impact on a business’ bottom line.

When used suitably, social media can be a great tool to help extend your business to untapped, potential customers and stay connected to current ones. But there are a few things you’ll need to know to help you get the most out of social media as well as your online presence in a holistic manner.

I believe that the correct way to view social media from a small-business owner’s point of view is as more of an evolution than a revolution.

Traditional marketing tactics such as advertising, referrals, and public relations are still very imperative, but social media tactics have now become a part of everyday marketing’s agenda and need to be considered at the strategic level of your marketing decision-making process.

So, rather than asking yourself if you should or should not use Facebook or Twitter, the question is: “How can Facebook and Twitter help you achieve your marketing objectives?”

From this integrated viewpoint, social media participation can start to make more sense for each individual marketer’s needs and goals. I plan to cover the following five topics in this discussion in a detailed manner.

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Five Things for Small Business Owners to Consider:

I. Focus on Networks that add value to your business

II. Create engagaing content

III. Identify Business Opportunities Through Social

IV. Challenges for SME’s with social media marketing

V. Social media Tools


social media marketing strategies for small businesses

I. Focus on Networks That Add Value:

Just because a network has billions of users doesn’t mean it will have a direct contribution to your brand’s goals. Each network has its own strengths and weaknesses, and each social media marketer should carefully pick and choose which networks they want to take advantage of.

Here are some of the most popular networks as well as what they’re best at.

Facebook

With an audience of 1.23 billion monthly active users, Facebook offers an opportunity to reach a broad range of potential customers.

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Facebook’s News Feed is a very visible place for social posts, it’s one of the best places for you to circulate your content in order to increase brand awareness, drive website traffic and distinguish yourself as a thought leader. This strategy is even more e­ffective when you take advantage of Facebook’s targeting capabilities through Facebook ads that allow you to tailor your messages to users with certain interests.

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Do you have a local business page on Facebook?

Want to reach more local customers?

Try some of these new features on Facebook:

a. Facebook Live : Facebook Live lets you connect with your fans, friends and followers by sharing real-time video of what you’re seeing and doing.

b. Facebook Notes: Facebook Notes now lets profile owners add a cover image, format text and resize photos, then share their notes with anyone.

Posting eye capturing images is one great way to attract audience through Facebook which has evolved into a huge B2C platform. Another good thing is you are able to promote your products to the right target audience in a reasonable budget.

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Top Facebook Strategy: Quotes really convert well in all platforms, especially Facebook. It is one of the best ways to capture your audience’s interest. Try to follow the influencers’ pages in Facebook and share their top posts in your feed to seek attention.

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Twitter for business

Maybe you’re sick of hearing about Twitter. But there’s no denying it’s become a hot business tool and with some pretty good reasons—as long as you think about how it will help you achieve your objectives!

What is it?

In simplest terms, Twitter is a free service that allows anyone to say anything to anybody in 140 characters or less—it’s the “what are you doing right now” kind of micro-blogging that permeates online social communication.

Twitter is equipped, like most social media tools with the ability to subscribe, share, friend, or follow as many Twitter feeds as you like.

Where Facebook has the volume of users, Twitter has the volume of messages. In fact, there are over 500 million Tweets sent every day.

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With all those social messages, there is a great probabaility that someone is either mentioning your company or starting a conversation that you would be interested in joining.

That’s why Twitter is best to use as a customer service and business development channel.

Why would I use it?

1) Would you like a way to connect and network with others in your industry or others who share you views? Go for Twitter.

2) Would you like a way to get instant access to what’s being said, this minute, about your organization, people, products, or brand? Go for Twitter.

3) Would you like a steady stream of ideas, content, links, resources, and tips focused on your area of expertise or interest? Go for Twitter.

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4) Would you like to monitor what’s being said about your customers to help them protect their brands? Go for Twitter

5) Would you like to extend the reach of your thought leadership—blog posts and other content? Go for Twitter

6) Would you like to promote your products and services directly to a target audience? Not such a good tool for that.

Before you really jump into a service like Twitter, it’s important that you discover at least, and initially only, one objective from the list above and focus your efforts on learning how to use the tool to that end. 

Top Twitter Strategy: Requoting a tweets is a gret option wherein you get a chance to tag along with an influencer. Say, yo can invite readers to read your related post or a post that compliments the tweet message. You are supposed Tom end smart if you use the additional 140 characters to exhibit your expertise. This is called “Tagging with the Influencer Trail.”

Linkedin

LinkedIn has a strong network of over 332 million users, most of whom frequent the site with a “working” mindset. The advantage with this is that LinkedIn is an amazing network for B2B social media marketers.

Whereas sites like Twitter and Facebook catch users more or less on their personal time, LinkedIn gives you access to customers when they’re at their professional best. Use this to build relationships with future customers.

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LinkedIn Groups are the best way to connect with the right target audience in mind; either start one to grow your network or join one to meet like minded people. Professional business services, Recruiting, Hiring, Career Development, Job Search are some of the best features of this professional network and the more contacts you gain, the more the success.

Google+

One of the great things about Google+ is that if you have a solid presence on the site and someone searches for your company through Google, a snippet of your profile will appear on the results page. Isn’t that great?

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Another great feature of Google+ is the facility to hyper-target your potential customers by Communities. Communities are groups of people who get together to discuss specific topics, so if you can find one that your customers are likely to be in, you can post content there that might interest them.

Top Google+ Strategy: Form circles or communities with like minded people and use Google Hangout to develop your network. If the right hashtags are included, there is a bright possibility that your google+ snippet shows up in the search results with your link.

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Pinterest:

Pinterest is virtual scrapbook or pinboard that lets users to share and organize visual images. A user can pin anything from around the web and other users can re-pin their images. Users organize their Pinterest pages by categorizing content on boards.

For businesses, Pinterest can be a way to curate visual content like infographics, videos, company culture, and even blog posts.

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Pinterest can help promote creativity, but always make sure that your content is relevant to your audience. Pinterest pages can also be used for a landing page for an email campaign, event, or presentation. The boards provide a unique way of organizing content to be visually appealing to your prospect.

Make sure you are including a good content mix in your Pinterest boards. Followers will want to see a combination of business and culture content.

Today, B2B marketers can get tons of great examples of award winning infographics and advertising campaigns on Pinterest.

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When pinning, pin the most visually interesting aspect of what you are sharing, like a special banner, slide, or cover page to get the most engagement and to make your brand look like it belongs.

Top Pinterest Strategy: Give and Take policy works out very well here. The more you share pins from popular feeds, the more you get repinned. And try to share pins that already have a sizeable amount of repins and likes. Make a pin yours by adding apt description with one or two hashtags.

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Instagram

Instagram is a photo sharing app that can have some relevance to the B2B market, especially with Facebook’s recent acquisition of the application. Having more than 27 million users, Instragram has a very active user base. Use Instagram for capturing event and office culture photos.

Instagram marketing

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Curate

Before you begin snapping photos and engaging viewers, it’s up to you to create a plan to help you curate fans of your company. Ask questions like:

  • What does my target audience want to see?
  • How can I get them to engage with my photos?
  • What will get them talking about my company?

This curation stage is about determining what will make your fans engage with your brand in a positive manner and creating a plan of execution.

Snap

The time has come to start snapping photos! Consider the following objectives as you create your visual content:

  • Make it exclusive: Post images that can only be seen on Instagram
  • Make it visually engaging: Instragram users are savvy, creative, and know a boring photo when they see one. Don’t post a photo unless it has aesthetic appeal.
  • Make it personal: Post photos of your employees at work to give viewers and potential customers’ personal insight into the inner workings of your company. Viewers want to feel like they are part of something, and this inside glimpse works wonders.

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Hashtag

The Instragram hashtag is a powerful feature to engage your viewers. Hashtags act as keywords providing a way for people to unearth photos through a simple search.

Hashtags are especially useful as you seek to establish your brand as an industry leader and get more followers.

Implement hashtags that are unique to your brand and industry, as well as hashtags that are popular keywords. And remember to use hashtags on all of your posts.

Engage

Engagement with potential customers and sharing are the primary reasons to utilize a platform such as Instragram. Luckily, there are a variety of ways for B2B companies to do this:

  • Events: Post photos of events you host for your current and potential clients
  • Geolocation: Use the geolocation feature to provide yet another point of engagement with your viewers
  • Gamification: Hold a contest for your audience. Have viewers submit photos, provide captions, or solve a puzzle about your photos.

Top Instagram Strategy: Include your webpage link in all your posts – they become clickable in other platforms like Twitter and use bit.ly to customize your link so that your followers would remember it easily. Instagram is best used to promote your brand in a massive way and also gaining popularity amongst affiliate marketers.

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II. Create Engaging Content

Below are just a few examples of good content for social and how to use that to support your goals.

Videos

  • How-to videos can be a hands-on approach to social customer care—answer your customers’ questions before they’re asked.
  • Behind-the-scenes videos give your audience a sense of your company culture and brand personality.

Guides

  • Stand tall as a thought leader and elevate your brand by developing engaging content that speaks to your customers.
  • Guides should cater to your target audience, confirming you’re actually adding value.

Infographics

  • Internal or external data can be turned into a beautiful, insightful infographic.
  • When done right, infographics can be some of the most socially shared pieces of content, so make them engaging and resourceful.

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Why are photos king?

Here are our top reasons why you should use photos and images as part of your marketing campaigns.

  • Appeals to Emotions: Visual content appeal to the viewer’s emotions in a way that text is incapable of. Thanks to the simplicity of photo and image sharing applications, text is a reconsideration.
  • Creates Intimacy: Photos help open the personal side of your company. Now customers and prospects can relate to your brand message via photos—without a glut of emails.
  • Engages: Photo and image sharing applications provide the perfect opportunity for your business to engage customers in a fun way through contests and other image-centric campaigns.

III. Identify Business Opportunities Through Social

Social media monitoring, should be an essential part of your social media marketing strategy. Below are some ways you can monitor social media to identify larger business opportunities for your brand.

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Brand mentions

People who are mentioning your brand on social are some of the premier quality leads you can drive. They’ve already proved they know your product/service and have an interest in reaching out to you.

Engage with them, grow that relationship and potentially create a brand advocate. If the mention was less than positive, use the opportunity to showcase your stellar social customer care and prove that you are listening.

Industry terms

Think of some of the words you use when discussing your brand, and look out for them on social. By monitoring these terms, you can identify relevant hashtags you should be using, conversations you should be having and influencers with whom you should be engaging.

Competitor info

Keep a track on the competition. Social media can give you insights into your competitors’ marketing plans and help you identify breaches in your product or service.

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IV. What are the challenges for SME’s when it comes to fabricating a social media strategic plan?

Challenge 1: Poor Website Traffic

The world is online. A brand’s website, therefore, is one of its most important marketing tools. Low website traffic can mean fewer customers and lower profits.

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Solution:

  1. Creating links directly to the website (whether they’re from your own social posts or influencers’).
  2. Link to useful content, subpages and company images to position your website and your brand as a resource. This traffic should increase leads and, in the long run, revenues.

Challenge 2: Decreasing Customer Retention

According to The Chartered Institute of Marketing, it costs four to 10 times more to acquire a customer than to retain one. To keep your customers intact, use social as a tool to support, communicate and engage.

Solution: A good social relationship with your customers should translate into a better perception and online relationship with your brand. By developing a strong social bond, customers will be more likely to stick with your brand time and time again.

Challenge 3: Poor Customer Service

People turn to social to engage with businesses. Therefore, it is important for your brand to be ready to help customers on any channel they can contact you through.

Solution: Arm your social media squad with the materials, education and authority to respond to customer questions and issues. When you do so, you’ll be prepared to respond to your customers in a timely and accurate way, regardless of how they reach out to you.

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Challenge 4: Weak Brand Awareness

Social allows you to reach a broad audience. But refining and perfecting that message takes brain power and time. To create authentic and lasting brand awareness, avoid a slew of promotional messages.

Solution: Focus on fashioning meaningful content and a strong brand personality through your social channels. Determine relevant hashtags and industry influencers you can engage with, and tap into those resources to spread your brand’s overall awareness.

Challenge 5: Managing Social Media Scheduling

Participating fully in social media as a business and marketing strategy requires discipline, automation routines, and a daily commitment.

Solution: A plethora of social media automation tools are available for leading social media networks, services offered for free and for a price if you want to go pro.

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V. Social Media Management Tools

Do you want new tools to simplify your marketing tasks?

Check out these social media tools to see if they’re a good fit for you!

Latergram: Use this tool to manage and schedule  your Instagram posts. Upload posts from your desktop, tablet, iPad or Android. The Free Plan comes with 30 photo posts/month, Search & Repost, and 2 Social Profiles.

Pricing : Starts at $19/mo

SocialRank: This handy tools lets users identify, organize, and manage their  followers on Twitter and Instagram by sorting and filtering. Find out which of your followers are the most engaged.

Spruce: Make Twitter custom images ready in seconds. Type your message. Find the perfect photo. Get a beautiful custom image, perfectly sized for Twitter. Choose from millions of free images.

Riffle: This tool help you find and connect with Twitter social influencers quickly and easily. Use the tool to get Twitter engagement, interest and activity analytics in real time. This type of data allows you to engage with influencers while they’re active on Twitter.

Hootsuite: This is one of the top and popular social media management  tools available. Hootsuite lets you manage all of your social networks from one platform. Use Hootsuite to schedule updates, engage your audience, and grow your brand. There’s also an analytics feature available.

Pricing: There’s a free plan available, great for personal use, and also 2 additional options: Pro (from £6.99/month) and Enterprise, recommended for big corporations and organizations.

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Google Analytics – If you have a website or a blog then it’s highly likely that you already have Google Analytics installed, and if not- you should! it tells you how many actual visitors you have, where they’re from, how long they stay on the website, where they come from and much more!

Pricing: Free

bit.ly – This is a URL shortener where you can shorten, customize and share links. They provide you with analytics to track back the link traffic. This means you can easily see how many times a link in a tweet has been clicked as well as what network they were using.

Pricing: Free

Buffer – Buffer is a tool that allows you to easily post or share to all your social networks. Buffer allows you to post to Twitter, Facebook profiles and pages, LinkedIn profiles and groups and the niche social network app.net. Sharing articles is easy to do by using a button in your browser. Sharing articles is easy to do by using a button in your browser.

Pricing: The Individual Plan is free, but you can also opt for one of their paid plans which range from $102 to $2,550 / year.

Sumome – This is a wonderful tool to attract email subscribers on the go. It offers social sharing, list building, subscription pop-up boxes, heat maps and image sharing for free.

MailChimp – MailChimp is an email marketing and newsletter service that comes in handy. Easy to set up and there is this ease of importing subcribers from your website. Whilst many of the features are free, if you want more and specifically you want to send to more than 2,000 subscribers, you’ll need to upgrade. However the prices are very reasonable (from $10 per month) so it shouldn’t be a problem.

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Commun.it – Commun.it is a social media relationship management tool- it helps you find out who is in your Twitter community- those who support you and your content (by retweeting, favouriting, and mentioning) and those who influence you. You can definitely build a big twitter database even with the free version of this tool.

Commun.it has chosen you to be a company ambassador to earn rewards by referring your friends!

SproutSocial –  is a social media management and monitoring platform known for its slick dashboard and its Messages view, which pulls in all of your activity from all social networks into one stream. Easy following, responding, retweeting capabilities from directly within the dashboard is a major plus & “Discovery” feature with suggestions of who to follow/unfollow based on who is following you, and keyword search.

Pricing: Their pricing plans (Deluxe, Premium or Team) start at $59 per user/month and can get up to $500 per month, for 3 users.

Tweetdeck – is one of the most popular tools for complete Twitter management. Tweetdeck lets you track, organize, and engage with your followers through a customizable dashboard where you can quickly see at-a-glance the activity from different lists, followers, hashtags, and more.

Pricing: Free

Fanpage Karma – Fanpage Karma shows all sorts of valuable info related to your Facebook page like growth, engagement, service and response time, and of course Karma (a weighted engagement value).

Facebook Insights – is again a very valuable tool provided by Facebook to gauge your  metrics regarding post engagement, website clicks and demographics.

Mention – It becomes difficult to keep track of all the different places you are mentioned on social media. Mention prides itself on “going beyond Google Alerts” to track absolutely anywhere that your name or your company could be mentioned online.

Pricing: Starts at 99 dollars/mo for small businesses

Keyhole – The tracking tool keeps track of your hashtag campaign or keyword on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook with a full dashboard of analytics, demographics, and influencers.

CoSchedule – Coschedule is a content marketing tool that lets you plan your posts as well as create and schedule social media messages from right inside your post editor. The app supports LinkedIn, Tumblr, Google+, Facebook and Twitter and there is also an option to integrate with your Bitly account and track clicks across all your social media channels.

Pricing: CoSchedule’s pricing plans start at $15 per month and can get up to $60/mo , depending on the number of social profiles you want to track.

You have to be diligent in choosing the best social media tool that suits your product/service and also budget. Sometimes focusing your efforts on a single social platform might yield the desired results. A little trial and error will lead you to making the right choice and eventually you’ll master the art of social media targeting!