Whether you’re establishing your personal brand or starting a business of your own, the number one advice you will hear is that you must use ‘social media’ to grow faster. And I’m not going to say that you shouldn’t follow this little advice!
In this article, I am going to share why and how your small business should get started with social media.
Social media has become of the largest networks that hold the potential to take your products and services to a global market. So even if you’re simply offering consultation in a specific field, you open your services to a larger consumer base – only if you strategise your social media approach in the proper manner.
Being active on the channel ‘almost’ eradicates the need for you to hire someone for public relations and sales – trust me, everything gets taken care of on its own when you’re reaching out to your audience with the right message on the channels they prefer and are the most active on.
According to the social media statistics listed by Vendasta, there are 2.3 billion active users on social media as of 2016 end. Out of which, 1.97 billion people are daily active users via mobile devices – now if you don’t see an opportunity here to promote your business, I’m not even sure how you plan to grow in this digital age!
I run a small scale content and social media marketing agency called Contensify. Having worked with startups different industries, with varied concepts and a lot of small brands, here’s what we answer when someone asks, ‘do we really need social media?’
The only way to grow your small business is to be where your consumers are – and that’s social media.
How does social media help small businesses?
- You don’t need additional resources or hires to get started with social media
- It enables you to effectively market locally
- But it is also a great way to take your products and services global
- You can share your brand’s story openly on social media (and for all you know, it might go viral!)
- Compared to traditional marketing, social media requires a smaller marketing spend
- Social media is an effective channel to engage with prospects
- It lets you create a community of loyal customers
- Even if you don’t have a website, it lets you market your products and services effectively
- If you have an advertising spend, voila! You might just hit jackpot in customer acquisition
Just about everything you have been wanting for your business or brand, right?
Which social media platform should you use?
To be honest, as a startup marketer, I get to experiment a lot. I make a lot of mistakes, get feedback from a lot of people, apologise for hundred things, get to learn a lot – but most importantly, I get to identify what works for each unique business idea.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to social media.
What works for a business that is similar to yours, might not get you even a single customer. It is all about being at the right place at the right time – with the right message!
Each of the top social platforms used for marketing today – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn, have their own sets of pros and cons.
For instance, Twitter is great for a business that relies on conversations with prospects to turn them into customers and uses a lot of content to drive their attention. On the other hand, Instagram is a great way for small businesses that have share-worthy pictures of their products and services – for that matter, you could also sell on Instagram easily without creating an online store.
So how do you choose a social network for your business?
After a lot of hit and trials, here are the questions that now help me make the right choice always (well, mostly!) :
- Who is my target audience?
- Where is my target audience the most active?
- Does the channel make sense for my business?
- What channels are my competitors making use of?
- Do I have the resources to be active on the channel?
Once you have the answers, here is a quick infographic you could refer to before taking your pick and starting work on it:
How to start using social media?
Well, once you know which platform your audience is on and where you need to be active, the very next question you would have in mind is on how to get started with this? So apart from the step of creating your profile on the social platform, here’s what you need to do:
1. Create customer personas
Never, ever skip this step. Even though deciding on the social platform did include considering who you’re targeting, it is always good to create customer personas. Defining who you’re targeting, what they do, what they are looking for, what are their concerns and what solutions you can offer them, helps you create a kick-ass social media calendar that will keep up with their expectations!
2. Work on your reputation
When you run a small business, it is important to focus on what will make your business stand out amongst the competition – that is why building your reputation is vital. Sharing industry specific, consumer centric and relevant content, engaging with your audience and sharing in-depth collaterals are a great way to establish yourself as an authority.
3. Reach out and grab some eyeballs
There are thousands of posts being shared on social media every day – make sure yours doesn’t get lost in the volume. Focus on aspects that differentiate you from your competitors and other industry leaders. Get creative in solving common consumer concerns, stating your value proposition and of course the kind of content you use to reach out to your audience – try rich media like gifs, quick videos, infographics, podcasts and more!
You could also experiment with engaging content like conducting events, competitions, polls and surveys.
4. Start networking asap
You can’t possibly be thinking of running a one-man show. The only way to get your value proposition heard and finding people who can help you take it to the market, is to network. Spend some time on online communities, social groups and most importantly, LinkedIn. Network with like-minded people to grow your business faster.
5. Add to your social media strategy
Just because you’re focusing on creating your social presence, doesn’t mean you skip the rest. Complement your social strategy with outreach tactics like PR, email marketing, advertising, guest posting and more. The idea is to be able to grab your audience’s attention via a channel they are making use of.
Growing a small business is no joke – nor is social media. You need to remain consistent at your efforts and back them with a robust strategy. The one guaranteed way to grow sustainably in the market is to narrow down your audience, understand your ideal customers and then reach out to them with what ‘they want to hear’ – on their favourite medium of course, social media.
Do you think social media can get too overwhelming for small businesses and startups?