Business runs on visibility, and modern growth is spearheaded by social media. The fastest, most effective way to reach your audience is by leveraging today’s most used platforms. TikTok, Instagram, and yes, even Facebook, still draw millions of users every day, so not incorporating them into your marketing strategy is a major loss.
But how do you get seen on social media as a small business? Every hashtag has thousands, if not millions, of posts already, and you don’t have the budget or resources to compete with a more established account. The good news is that with some studying and a few investments, you can start producing content that rivals your competition.
If you’re going to be promoting your business online, you have to understand the basics of digital marketing. Many entrepreneurs think they can instantly shift from consumer to business owner and that their marketing efforts will pay off if they just do what they like to see. Your insight might be valuable, but as a consumer, you only see a small fraction of what marketing really entails.
Earning a degree in digital marketing and entrepreneurship would be the most powerful way to scale your business for years to come. You’ll gain all the knowledge you need to not only apply practical skills but make informed decisions backed by theory. Paying for this doesn’t have to be a massive loss, either. Borrowing a private student loan to pay for your college education or even some courses makes it more accessible. As you begin to learn the basics of digital marketing, here’s what you’ll want to research:
TikTok and Instagram have massive audiences for small business owners. Videos will give you far more visibility and interaction than photos, so prioritize them as a cornerstone of your content strategy. Short videos showing behind-the-scenes action, sharing some insider knowledge, or offering tips to others always perform well.
It’s called social media for a reason. The content you post should intend to pique interest and start a conversation. That said, you likely won’t have people flooding your comments right away, so you need to get out there and interact. Active accounts are shown more often, and you’ll probably find your experience far more enjoyable when it isn’t just about getting likes or views.
Make sure you have more in mind than just getting a lot of likes or followers. Those are nice to see, but they don’t pay the bills. Instead, ensure that your posts always elevate your business toward a higher objective. Set campaign-specific goals that will run from specific dates, give you essential information about your target audience and help you refine your strategy.
The outreach potential is one of the best things about leveraging social media. However, it can also make for a small-fish-in-a-big-sea dynamic. This can be challenging to overcome but not impossible. Build your own unique brand identity, and be sure that you carry that through all your posts, photos, and overall content creation. Even the aesthetic of your page should be in line with who you are as a business.
In terms of making yourself stand out from your competitors, you might have to try a few different angles and see what generates a buzz. Remember that just because something is not a hit the first couple of times does not mean it is a flop. Dedicate yourself to sticking with it long enough to have data to analyze, and if you find that it is time to try something else, so be it.
One thing to consider here is how you can keep people coming back to your page, outside of your product. For example, people go viral on these platforms by doing seemingly silly things like starting a conversation about whether or not their cat will fall asleep in a funny position. It seems ridiculous, but it gets people oddly invested. Now they are visiting that page nightly to check on this cat. As a small business, generating this kind of traffic to your account on a daily basis means that you have a daily opportunity to showcase your company and your product to these visitors in addition to whatever initially led them to you.
Specifically, on Instagram, you do have an option to advertise to increase your followers. This route is not for everyone. However, what you are paying for is the overall number. Some of the reasons that you might consider doing this would include:
As with most other business decisions, you need to weigh the pros against the cons. Do not get distracted simply by the opportunity to have a high follower amount, because there are some risks to think about too. If you pay for followers, your credibility can take a hit if the followers that you gained organically catch onto the fact that all your other thousands of followers are never liking your posts or engaging with your account. It is a natural question to wonder, If this account has 1000 followers, how come their posts only have 25 likes on average? In some instances, Instagram also reserves the right to purge accounts of fake followers to maintain their own integrity, so your purchase is not protected in that regard.
The social media influencer culture is hot right now and does not show signs of slowing down. While you may need to wait a bit until your accounts meet certain requirements, working with influencers is a unique way to outsource your social media marketing. In essence, an influencer is a person, or group of people, who have accounts on socials with large followings that you can hire to promote your product to their followers.
One of the best benefits of using an influencer is that these individuals have already done the work for you in terms of building an audience and their own credibility. Celebrities have been doing promotional work for decades. However, as of late, we are seeing the rise of seemingly everyday people creating the same opportunity for themselves, all through social media. Here are a few things to pay close attention to when you are considering working with an influencer account:
Marketing professionals can help you find influencers that are worth your investment. They have software designed to seek out fake followers, and can also vet the potential candidates for you. These professionals can also do a competitive analysis to help you determine how the ROI of influencer marketing compares to other forms such as digital and paid.
At this point, you might be thinking to yourself, “How many things can I invest in? I am just a small business or just starting.” While that is a valid question, in this case, the main form of investment is going to be your time. The people who use social media to contact businesses have a certain expectation in terms of how they engage. For example, if someone DM’s your account asking if you carry a certain product, and they do not hear back for two weeks, the chances are they have looked elsewhere already, and you lost them.
When you are just starting out and have a smaller number of followers, this is a great time to practice your engagement strategy because, numbers-wise, there will be less to keep up with at this stage. You can create a rapport with your initial followers, which builds brand loyalty. When you make a post, and people comment, respond. People love a shout-out and even simply liking a comment someone has contributed to your account to help your algorithm and overall reputation.
Live activity on social media is an awesome way to engage and build a following through a consistent tactic. Maybe every Tuesday evening, you hop on the live feed of one of your accounts and do a small giveaway, or even better, create an opportunity for followers to have a back and forth with you. Once people have an incentive to go to your page, they will go just to see what might happen. Once they are there, it is your job to hook them.
Consistency is your very best friend in terms of optimizing social media for small businesses. Find a schedule that works for you and stick to it. The good news here is that you can use technology to manage this for you if you do not want to go the route of adding a social media manager to your team just yet. When accounts post things at random, not only does it not give your followers an opportunity to set an expectation for your presence, but it also throws off how their algorithm works as well. For example, if you are posting once a day, your followers have an opportunity to like and engage with your account daily, and the algorithm will take notice and place your account in their feed more often. However, if you do not have a schedule and simply bounce from periods of high activity to no activity at random, the is no data-driven opportunity for your account to be put in the face of your followers.
Another benefit of working with a calendar is you have an opportunity to stockpile content. Of course, it is always important with regard to relevancy to have your contributions be current and in line with what is going on in the world. However, things like the holiday season, for example, are a given, and nobody will know that you created all your holiday posts and campaigns in June to save for that time of year. This will also help you have time for those posts that cannot be created in advance. Not feeling like you can’t do a live session on Facebook because you are too busy creating Christmas content last minute is not an ideal social media strategy.