Put Yourself Out There: Small Businesses in the Age of Social Media

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Congratulations are in order! You took the steps necessary and joined the ranks of 5.5 million other UK-based small businesses. Welcome to the fold, and now a question: How can you differentiate yourself from those other 5.5 million?

You can afford a little from your budget to get your name out there, maybe more than some of your competition, certainly nothing along the lines of the big names. Maybe you do a little Internet surfing to help brainstorm ideas. While online, why not check your Facebook account or glance through Instagram? You might be struck with inspiration.

Take to social media platforms to help advertise your business! You won’t need to invest in any new equipment or specialized training. You already navigate your personal pages with ease, don’t you? How much harder could it be for a business page?


Related Article: 7 WAYS SMALL BUSINESSES CAN COMPETE WITH LARGE RETAILERS

And, believe it or not, your competition might not be quite as stiff as you would imagine: Only 39 per cent of small business owners used Facebook, one of the most popular social media platforms, to promote their business! That’s the high mark! Imagine the untapped potential that waits on the other end of your keyboard.

Let’s take a look at some of the important points you should know about social media advertising.

It Isn’t Your Personal Page

First and foremost, remember: You decided to make the page for your business, not you. You might show a few photos of your staff and company functions but you probably wouldn’t want to post family pictures from your last holiday. At the same time, you don’t want to bombard them with excessive blurbs. Post a few times a day – three seems a nice average, five on the outside – to help keep your name present without becoming bothersome.

Keep things centered around what you can do for your customers: If you provide a particular service, offer tips to help lengthen the time between visits. This may sound counterintuitive, but consider the message it sends. You, a service provider, told your customers how to keep you from a quick second trip. It sounds like you care more about a quality job than another bill.

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Post news on special deals and discount or coupons that your business offers. Let them know about upcoming sales or specials. Set up a survey to get a bearing on their satisfaction; maybe offer a rebate for its completion.

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About the Customers

On the topic of customer satisfaction: Social media offers a glimpse into your customers’ minds in an easy-to-grasp format. Detailed analytics let you review and understand your followers behaviors as your progress through an advertising campaign. Facebook offers free weekly (and very) basic metrics on things such as: Page visits, weekly total reach, people engaged, and your page’s total likes. Twitter offers a similar review.

Let’s say you are one of the 56 per cent who use more than one social media platform. Multi-platform assistance apps like Hootsuite can not only bring your Facebook, Twitter, et al analytics together in a neat bundle, it can also help you customize your results into exportable reports for staff meetings and presentations. That could come in rather handy to help influence potential investors, couldn’t it?

One of the greatest advantages – not to mention potential pitfalls – of social media use for small business is your availability for instant feedback. This allows you the opportunity to directly connect with your clientele. They can post on your pages, you can respond, and a dialogue soon opens that leads to genuine interactions aside from simply supply and demand. It also gives you a chance to correct any failings before they become irreparable.

This sort of open forum can be seen as a means of marketing in and of itself. A positive experience on your page and lead to a mention on your client’s page and a modern-day version of word of mouth. All because you took the time to respond to a customer’s post!

So Where Do You Start?

If you aren’t one of those 56 per centers, the first step would be to establish a social media account. But which one? You can choose from so many different platforms! Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube: How can you decide which platforms would fit best with your business?

YouTube and Facebook remain the two most popular platforms in the UK. Eighty-five per cent of social media users use YouTube; 78 per cent use Facebook. That translates to around 32 million people on Facebook alone!

These two platforms remain most popular with the 18 – 29 demographic (96 and 92 per cent, respectively). That works well for simple reach, but then ask: How can you reach your clients through these media?

Without video content, what good would YouTube do? Can you create quality videos to entice or assist your customers? Could you take them behind the scene to show them what your staff does to prepare your business?

Or would a few well-placed advertisements better serve your needs? Considering the capabilities of social media, especially with customer interaction, you would think a modest cost wouldn’t be out of the question. Instead, you find it at the bottom of the cost spectrum!

In terms of cost per thousand persons reached (CPM), a traditional roadside billboard, the second cheapest method, will run you just under £4. You also must consider things such as billboard location, the traffic quality and amounts, and seasonal upkeep.

The CPM for a social media ad sits at £2, a full 50 per cent less! And, unlike hidden costs found in other forms of advertising, you’ll not pay extra for your advertisement to reach a small phone, a tablet, or a PC.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself as you consider your social media marketing: With whom do you wish to interact? What would you post? Are you fully self-sufficient to maintain your pages or would you delegate duties to subordinates?

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