If you’re a small business, you’re likely navigating marketing and advertising decisions based on a conservative budget. We know it’s rarely about whether you can afford to go big, but whether you should shell out when there are so many factors to consider. You’re trying to play it smart and want the most cost-effective solutions for your buck. It happens that one of the most overlooked marketing platforms is also the cheapest to get started. Social media is free to set up, and having those accounts opens up a host of marketing opportunities for little to no cost. Yet many are still resistant to give it a shot because they only consider the personal uses of social pages. Truth is, small businesses need social media more than you realize, and we explore a few reasons why below.
It happens that one of the most overlooked marketing platforms is also the cheapest to get started.
1 | Social media enables local word of mouth
If you’re a small business, local customers are your bread and butter. Of course you hope that happy customers will refer their friends and family to your services. But traditional word of mouth can be difficult to measure, and it’s going by the wayside. More people share information online than in person in this age of smart phones, and social media is where it happens. Posting content to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram makes sharing easy. If you can devote the time to creating content, especially posts promoting your products or upcoming sales and events, you can drive activity online and in sales.
2 | Social media hashtags create free exposure
Hashtags on social posts help promote content to large groups without any ad spend. If you’re dragging your feet on learning about how hashtags work, we covered it in a previous blog so you can get the rundown. But basically, tagging social posts with relevant keywords makes that content discoverable to anyone searching social for that tag. Certain hashtags trend regularly—like #MondayMadness or #SundayFunday. Knowing when and where to promote your posts can help more people see them—for free! While you may not have as much success with confirmed sales as paid advertising, visibility and reach still matter for growing your customer base.
Maybe you’re a restaurant known for your fried chicken…you could jump on trending #ThrowbackThursday posts with a photo of an egg on one of your serving baskets. Creativity and on-brand content is key to a good social media strategy—if you’re hesitating on the effectiveness of social media, it may be you haven’t found the right people to make it work for you.
3 | Social media helps build your brand
If hashtags help you get customers’ attention, followers and a consistent brand experience help you keep it. The best way to earn customer loyalty is to provide a consistent, reliable experience every time they deal with you. That’s the idea behind branding your business, and social media provides a steady outlet for delivering on-brand content to your customers even when they aren’t using your services.
Once you build up a good following on social media, you have a guaranteed audience to receive your content. You also have a group of people who are receptive to receiving messages and promotions from you. This is the new mailing list, and signing up is as easy as following you on Facebook or Instagram. Having a steady stream of compelling content and customer engagements makes social media the perfect avenue for sharing your brand experience with your customers.
4 | Social media improves customer satisfaction
The social aspect of social media is arguably the biggest selling point. You can engage with customers one-on-one in a public way. They get to interact with a real person and are more likely to see your business as genuine. That level of personal customer service goes a long way to winning long-term customer loyalty, and it’s difficult to achieve anywhere other than social media. Plus, anyone viewing your pages can see that you’re active and willing to engage with customers, so they’ll be more likely to give you a try. Remember that local customers talk, or these days, share—the more you engage them and provide positive interactions, the more likely they are to recommend you to a friend.
5 | Social media connects you with your audience
So far we’ve talked about the benefits of social media in general. But there are so many platforms, and all of them has a different audience. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn are the most popular social media sites. It’s important that you know your customer and focus your social media attention on the platform most likely to reach them.
If you provide services to a local area, Facebook will help you connect with people who share a lot with friends; they can leave reviews, ask questions, and share posts from you to their pages.
If you’re a brick & mortar shop, you can share photos of new stock and even coupons to Instagram; visual people will appreciate seeing what you have to offer before they commit to traveling to you.
If you’re part of a local collective and share a lot of events or updates, Twitter can connect with you text-based readers who love a quick scoop; hashtags give you reach, and you can get re-tweeted to spread the word around town.
If you provide business-to-business services, you’ll have success sharing on LinkedIn where professionals gather; you’re more likely to engage with higher-ups in your client companies, who can refer others in similar positions.
These are just a few examples of how each platform reaches a different audience. Most businesses will have overlaps in which social media makes sense for them, and it’s all about what customers you’re trying to reach.
We think it’s time to be social.
If you’ve been hesitating to set up those business accounts on social media, it’s time to get started. All these benefits come just from maintaining an active social media presence. If you add in social media marketing and a smart social media strategy, you can really boost your business on a budget. The main obstacle business owners face is a lack of time to devote to managing social media pages. While it’s free to set up and run, it does require upkeep and constant content generation to keep customers engaged. If you have savvy employees you can commit to generating content, that can help offset your time commitment. You can also hire a digital marketing company to provide social media management services.
If you’re considering putting ad dollars toward traditional advertising methods, you might want to reconsider the value of social media. If you instead hire a qualified company to provide social media management and online advertising services, you’ll get all the benefits of an active social presence without committing your own time to it. You’ll receive quality content to engage your customers and a social media strategy that makes sense. You’re also more likely to see a bigger return on investment than traditional advertising. We wrote about the pros and cons of online vs. traditional advertising if you want to see more in-depth statistics.
If you want to learn more about what social media management entails, we’re always happy to discuss our process! Give us a call: 682-719-0085
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