Set Up & Improve Your Small Business
Social Media Marketing
in 12 Easy Steps
Are you a small business owner, nonprofit or business professional new to social media marketing? Or are you already using social media and looking for ways to improve your social marketing? Either way, this article will show you simple, FREE, actionable ways your small can improve and simplify business social media marketing.
Table of Contents
1. Determine your social media goals and buyer persona
First and foremost, determine what you would like social media to do for your business. These are your social media goals and should be in line with your marketing goals. A common marketing goal is to grow your sales by a certain percent this year. Some examples of social goals media goals that could assist in reaching your overall marketing goal would be: growing brand awareness, creating leads, driving prospects to your website or a landing page, selling products on social or legitimizing your expertise.
You should already have created a buyer persona which is just the makeup of your ideal customer. This makeup includes things like demographics, lifestyle and pain points. If you need some help creating a buyer persona, check out this blog on How to Create A Buyer Persona by Alexa. You are going to use this buyer persona to determine which social media platforms to use and then when you create content. Keep in mind, it’s more important that the right people (your buyer persona) see your posts rather than everyone. It’s better to have 50 followers who are truly interested in what you sell versus 500 followers who are on your page just because they are your nice family and friends.
2. Strategically select social media platform(s) you will use
Pick only a few select social media platforms to use and learn to use them well. The last thing you want to do is get so overwhelmed with social media marketing that you just give up on it all together. Social media platforms have many functions and a wide range of demographics in users. Pick social media platforms that best align with your social goal(s) and your buyer persona that you created in #1.
Social media platforms have a wide range in functions. Some social platforms do a better job at allowing you to actually sell your product (social commerce) while others are more appropriate for B2B conversations & leads and yet others can best feature images of your products and videos.
After you consider which platform best matches with your social media goals, determine where your typical buyer persona is hanging out. Pew Research has compiled extensive demographic information by platform for age, gender, income, education and more. It is definitely worth your time to take a look at their research.
Again, I’d recommend just picking one or two social media platforms to start with. Do your research on each platform’s functions and audience to choose the best ones for your business. Add more as you see fit or grow your business.
3.Optimize your social business profiles
Once you pick the social platform(s) that your business will use, it is critical you optimize them. This simply means, set them up correctly, completely and professionally then use them optimally to get the best results.
As you begin to set up your business social media accounts, first, check for old accounts you may have forgotten that you set up. Use those or delete and start fresh. You do not want to confuse customers and prospects (and search engines) with multiple accounts. Then, be sure you are actually setting up a business account so you can take advantage of the special business tools each offers like analytics, selling stores, get messages, etc. These tools are not offered on personal social accounts.
Note, each platform has their own way to set up a social business account. For example, on Instagram, you start with a regular account and switch it to a business account. For Facebook and LinkedIn, you start with your personal account and create/connect your business account to it.
After you properly set up social business accounts, optimize them by accurately and completely filling in all the available details like hours of operation, website links, photos of your products, etc. During the setup, you will add profile pictures and header images. Each platform has its own set of sizing specifications for images. So, use proper image sizes and then proof your copy.
4. Create professional, onbrand designs and graphics for your posts
Congratulations – you set up your and optimized your social business profiles. What’s next? Here is where all the fun begins. Start posting!
As you begin to create your posts, continue to think about your social goals and buyer persona. Additionally, consider your branding (colors, fonts, taglines, spokespersons, logo etc). Then create attractive eye catching designs and graphics that appeal to your target audience. You want to make your customers and prospects stop scrolling to focus on your brand and it’s message (or call to action – CTA).
In order to create those beautiful professional images and in the proper size, many professionals are turning to Canva. Canva is one of my all time favorite marketing tools – ever. It is so easy to design professional looking graphics and for FREE. You don’t need ANY extensive graphic program training. A plus, Canva has done for you templates already sized for each social media platform, so now you don’t even have to remember proper image sizes. Canva now also allows you to create videos and stories. Click here to get started with a free Canva account.
5. Create reusable templates to save time and for consistency
This is a Canva Bonus Tip: Create on-brand templates like the one shown above with your business colors, fonts, logos, etc. and then reuse them over and over. This not only saves time but it presents a clear branding image that your prospects and customers will remember.
6. Use a social media posting & scheduling tool to save even more time
I cannot say enough about how much time you can save by using a social media posting & scheduling tool. There are a variety of them out there. Two FREE scheduler tools I like to use are Facebook Business Suite and Hootsuite. If you would like to explore other options (some paid) Influencer Marketing Hub has put together a list of 22 of them.
In a 2021 study by Pew Research, two of the top social platforms used in the United States are Facebook with 69% of US adults on it and Instagram with 40%. So let’s face it, you most likely will be posting to at least one of these. For those of you adverse to Instagram, there are some telling statistics out there which might encourage you to try it. Our customers saw a much higher rate of organic impressions on Instagram (26%) compared to Facebook (4.3%). This means more of your fans and prospects see your content on Instagram (due to the use of hashtags). Further, this (Pew Research) study shows growth on Instagram at 8% and Facebook as stagnant. So, Instagram becomes a favorite for us.
Facebook owns Instagram and actually makes it easy to post to both at the same time and from a desktop. With the Facebook Business Suite, you can post up to 75 days out, including both posts and stories. Then you can view analytics on posts. If you choose paid advertising on Facebook, you can use advanced tools to segment by creating a lookalike audience based on your buyer persona with a pixel embedded on your website.
If your business needs to market on more than just Facebook and Instagram, another easy social management tool is Hootsuite. While the capabilities on the free version are somewhat limited, for businesses just starting out on a budget, you can add two more platforms into your social reach. A good addition to Facebook and Instagram is Twitter and for B2B LinkedIn.
7. Determine what and when to post on social
After you have the hang of using each business social platform, you should consider your social strategy. Here is where you will determine what type of content and when you will post on your social channels.
There are so many things your business can post. Here are some ideas: You can showcase your company highlighting things like awards, philanthropic efforts, employees, products and reviews. Featuring your customers and offering your expertise with free tips are always a favorite. Keeping customers up to date on sales, contests, events and new products are another idea. I keep a holiday calendar next to me when I schedule posts for clients and include happy wishes for those days. Inspirational sayings are another goodwill gesture to offer kindness & inspiration to fans. Video is quickly becoming the hottest thing on social. In fact some platforms specialize in it. It has become easier than ever to create professional looking video, so give it a try !
Next you might be wondering what days and times are the best time to reach your target audience. Sprout Social did some research and found the best times to post in regards to engagement generally were weekdays during working hours. See the breakout by platform and industry here The Best Times to Post on Social Media in 2020 | Sprout Social
Whatever you choose to post, remember that the goal of social really is to encourage two-way relationships and conversation. In fact, one directional promotion posts, are not only often dismissed by your fans but also set as a lower priority to be shown in social platform algorithms. Social media experts often apply the 80/20 Rule. 80% of content posted on social should be useful (educational, inspirational, entertaining). While 20% should be promotional in nature. Further, don’t just post your content and be done with it. Be a good community member by responding to comments on your posts and interacting with other posts, pages and groups. Social is two-way. People are looking to build relationships, create connections, learn new things and have conversations.
Whatever content you choose to post, try to keep it consistent. This helps your fans to remember your brand and also helps again, with that algorithm. (Yes, each social platform has an algorithm for what they show your fans and followers).
8. Use analytics to measure your social efforts
Once you get your posting schedule down, start to keep track of their performance with analytics. Each platform and third party scheduler has different ways of showing you analytics. Facebook Business Suite offers you a free tool that not only analyzes each post but also gives you additional user demographics like age and gender. Social media management tools like Hootsuite and Social Sprout offer advanced tools in their paid for versions. After you start to schedule a variety of content at different times, you can use these tools to see what type of content resonates with your followers and then adjust accordingly. You might notice when you post things like recipes and tips on taxes, your audience likes it more and starts to interact more. (Which in turn, means the platform will show your content to more people). So when creating future content, create more of what gets you results.
9. Use free social business tools and groups to achieve goals
Once you get used to posting, notice each social platform has their own set of free marketing tools. For example on Facebook, you can create promotions and events, add a button to “Get Messages”, etc. Each platform also has its own version of paid advertising.
In addition to these tools, many platforms have groups. These groups are specialized and segmented according to interests and sometimes geography. If you can’t find one that matches with your company offerings, you can create your own. These groups can help you connect better with your buyer persona. For example, let’s say you own a nursery and are looking for new customers. You can find local groups where people are interested in plants and gardening. Then, to get your business name out there, start to interact with members and post within the group. Do not make it all about you and your promotions. Respond to questions, offer expert tips and interact. With our clients, we found businesses that were active in local Facebook Groups got more interaction and leads when compared to those that did not. In fact, when clients posted in these local groups, the impressions per post were much higher than on their own business page and even through paid boosting.
You can go find “experts” who will train you on each social business platform or hire a marketing professional. But each platform has its own FREE tutorials and training. Plus, many of them offer certifications once you complete the training and pass a test. Check out our resource page for training programs from the most popular social media platforms.
10. Collect competitive intelligence
Competitive Intelligence is just a fancy word for spying on your competition. If you often wonder what your competition is doing in regards to business, sales promotions, new products, charity events, etc. just check out their socials. You can even see which of their posts generate comments, shares, likes etc and adjust your content and strategy as needed. This is definitely a way you can keep ahead of your competition!
11. Don’t be afraid to experiment
Create different types of content as mentioned in #7 to see what resonates with your audience. Your fans and followers don’t expect you to be perfect. It’s more important to just start and then be consistent. You never know what might resonate with your customers. But if your don’t try you will never know. Once you get the hang of one social media platform, maybe its time to add in another one to test out new content and even dive into video.
12. Stay for the long haul
Last but not least, DO NOT GIVE UP !
At first, you might feel like your efforts are generating minimal results. You might feel like throwing in the towel. “Feel” is the keyword here. There are things going on behind the scenes that are not necessarily reflected in the impressions, likes, comments and re-posts.
If nothing else, you are creating a professional digital presence and brand awareness. A digital presence is important because customers and prospects are going to be looking for you online. If they can’t find you or what they see looks unprofessional, they will most likely just move on to your competitor. Brand awareness is so important. If customers don’t know about your company and products, they are simply not going to purchase from you.
Old school marketing theory and principles teaches “The Marketing Rule of 7.” It states that a prospect needs to “hear” your marketing message at least 7 times before they buy. In today’s fast paced world, your customers can be bombarded with nearly 1000 marketing messages per day. You need your voice to stand out from the clutter. With social media, your fans and followers might not appear to react to your posts. But you are leveraging the power of brand awareness. So next time a prospect is looking for an accountant or restaurant or hair stylist, if they have seen you on social media (more than 7 times) there is a better chance they might actually remember your brand verses if you don’t use social at all. Also, you can post organically on social for free. Where else can you promote for free? So go ahead and leverage the “Marketing Rule of 7” for free social.
Another interesting fact to consider is that social media can actually drive traffic to your website. When you optimize your social profiles (step 3), you will list your website. Additionally, you can create posts and links (like Linktree) on your social channels. You can have a CTAs (calls to action) telling users to view your website or landing page (for coupons, menus, blog posts, etc). For new businesses we measured website traffic acquisition using Google Analytics. We found social media drove far more traffic (in some cases all the traffic) to a new website versus search engines. Most website developers can easily add analytics to your website that will enable you to measure social media traffic and more.
Last, if that’s not convincing enough, in a recent 2021 study by Hootsuite, over 25 % of people aged 16 to 64, say they turn to social media to “find inspiration for things to do or buy and even to purchase products.” And that number only grows. When your customers come looking for your brand, your restaurant menu, your products, they are going to look on social media. AND you want to be found!
Our 12 actionable social media steps can have your business up and running on social media in no time!
To recap: First, start slow. Be sure to consider your marketing plan and then choose social media goals that compliment it. Use those social goals and your buyer persona to help you choose a select number of business social media channels. Then optimize them. Try scheduling tools to save time by scheduling multiple channels for the entire month all at one time. Then interact with your posts and followers – social media is all about building relationships. Use a design tool like Canva to create professional on-brand images and reusable templates that stand out. Once a month take a look at your analytics to see how social is performing. Don’t forget to look at your website analytics to see if social is driving traffic to your website. Then adjust your social strategy accordingly. Don’t be afraid to adjust it over and over until you get the most out of social. You don’t have to be perfect. You just need to be found on digital. Most of all have fun and don’t give up! Remember, you are NOT looking for everyone to love your social media, just the customers who are interested in your brand. What are you waiting for? Start today using these 12 actionable tips to improve your businesses social media marketing.