How many business owners do you know that set up a Facebook page because someone told them to but haven’t touched it since? Are you guilty of this social media sin?
You’ve read all the articles and listened to all the podcasts telling you, “You should be on Twitter!” or “You need to be on Facebook!” or maybe “You’re losing out on leads everyday if you’re not on Pinterest!”
But how do you know what’s really going to work for you and your business?
I love the quote from Steve Jobs, “Start small. Think big.” This is the perfect guiding principle for small business owners when it comes to leveraging social media to grow your business.
Why is this the case? It comes down to this: The two greatest limiting factors for most small business owners are Time and Money. So, if you don’t have the money to hire a social media manager to dominate every social channel for you or the time to invest in dominating them yourself, then you’re better off creating a big impact on a couple channels rather than spreading yourself too thin and missing the opportunity to connect with your ideal target audience in a meaningful (and profitable!) way.
So if you’re going to focus on one or two social media platforms to grow your business, how do you know which ones are best?
Use my GRIT Method for gaining traction FAST so you can grow your online audience and engagement without wanting to pull your hair out!
G: Get clear on your GOALS and what you want to achieve from your investment in social media. Your goals could include any of the following as well as any others relevant to your business niche:
- Get your audience familiar with your brand personality
- Answer FAQs or offer tips related to your product/service
- Deliver Customer Service
- Getting access to influencers
- Showing leadership in your niche or increase perception of authority
- Tap into your audience online to gather insights/Market research
- Distribute offers or coupons to drive sales
Also – if you’re not going to be hiring out your social media management and content creation, it’s also worthwhile to consider your own personal preferences (e.g., Do you communicate best with words or images? Do you love being on video?). Also consider your brand and what kind of engagement fits with your brand character (e.g., Is a “behind the scenes” view appropriate? Are you cutting edge and trendy? Does your product lend itself well to visuals and imagery?).
R: RELATE to your audience. Before you pick your ideal platform or platforms, you need to understand your ideal audience and their demographics, pain points and at least a bit about their media consumption and purchasing behavior (as related to your niche).
As a business owner, you hopefully already have a clear idea of your customer demographics, but if you’re just getting started (or exploring a new audience), you’ll want to understand the basics at least:
- Age Range & Gender (Are they women in their 30s?)
- Education Level (Are they college grads?)
- Relationship and Parenting Status (Are they married with children?)
It’s also important to explore where they’re looking for information on what kind of product or service you offer and how they make purchasing decisions. For example:
- Do they prefer speed and efficiency when searching for a solution? Or do they have a more casual, entertainment frame of mind when seeking your solution?
- Do they want lots of information, testimonials and data points before making a purchase? Or is an impulse purchase the name of the game in your niche?
I: Use the INFORMATION on each social media platform to understand the different options available and select which will serve both your goals and allow you to relate to and engage your audience effectively.
You don’t need to know the details about every platform, but having a general understanding of some of the best and most popular options the perfect place to start. So let’s unpack 3 of the biggest social media platforms so you can assess whether they may be right for your business.
Facebook: Reaching more than 1.5 billion active users every month with an average of 20 minutes of engagement on the platform per user per day, Facebook is pretty darn difficult to ignore. There are also multiple options to creating engagement with your audience on Facebook, including a Business Page, a Facebook Group, and also now Facebook Live video. Due to recent algorithm changes, only a small percentage of your page fans may see each of your posts, but there are ways to increase that engagement with ads, targeting and video strategies. Taking this into account, Facebook does require some brand personality, content personalization, and regular reader interaction. This is a perfect platform to engage with your audience to deliver valuable tips, information, education and offers. The more you can invest in giving them value through storytelling the better your conversion should be when it comes to putting an actual offer or promotion on the table. Facebook Insights will also give you great information on your audience as your following grows, including age, gender, and geographical location as well as which posts are most popular. This can in turn allow you to create more compelling content and offers for your audience!
Twitter: If you prefer speed and efficiency in communication this could be your ideal platform. On Twitter, you can share short (140 or fewer characters) updates plus videos, images, links and more. It’s a great platform to extend your reach and increase your “findability” with your audience by using hashtags or mentioning usernames in a post. The platform has more than 320 million active users worldwide and is one of the top 10 websites in the United States, so more than likely at least a segment of your target audience is there! Many small businesses are using Twitter for customer service needs, due to its speed and efficiency. The Twitter community loves finding new information, but also prefers brands that share lots of interesting, relevant content from other users and from around the Web. Your audience credibility on this platform will increase if they don’t think you only post promotions!
Instagram: Instagram is a visual social platform where users can post photos and videos with descriptions. The platform is owned by Facebook and has more than 400 million active users. Although certain industries like food, art, travel, and fashion tend to dominate the volume of content posted, a wide range of businesses can benefit from audience engagement on this platform, including coaches, restaurants, and even hair salons. This platform is almost entirely accessed on mobile devices, and so is great if your target audience forsakes their computer for their smartphone most of their day. To succeed on the platform, it’s best if you have an eye for design and a talent for storytelling. Hashtags used in descriptions and comments can help your target audience find you and help you find them and also potential joint venture opportunities. This is a great platform not only for product companies that can showcase their actual ware, but also small businesses that want to communicate what it feels like to work with them or desire to give their audience a glimpse “behind the scenes”.
T: Once you’ve picked your platforms, it’s time to TEST and Optimize. As the social media channels themselves change and update, you may need to assess how you use them and how it affects your reach and engagement. In the meantime, timing frequency and consistency are the name of the game when it comes to creating engagement with your target audience.
Although some experts will share “ideal times” to post on different platforms, I believe that you need to test and learn for yourself, your brand and your audience. More important is consistency. To gain traction right off the bat, one rule of thumb is no less than 3 posts per day. If you can’t jump online every day to do this, there are scheduling programs that you can use as well as scheduling posts directly within some platforms, such as Facebook.
Most important, make sure you’re responding to your audience when they engage with your content. Like their comments, reply with a questions… basically get the conversation started and continue to feed the fire!
Like we said at the beginning, it’s fine to keep open profiles on platform that you aren’t focused on, however make sure your audience there knows where they CAN find you.
Lastly, don’t go for the hard core sale too soon on social media platforms. Instead aim for creating the relationship, expanding your audience and increasing engagement to boost that “Know-Like-Trust” factor for your brand. It’s essential to get your audience “liking” and “sharing” your content because social media is a way for your customers to get to know what you and your company value and are passionate about. Create share-worthy posts that are authentic to your brand.
If social media is the path to profits, then your website or email list is the destination where those profits are realized. We want to use engagement on social media to guide your audience to your website to learn more and make a purchase or to your list where you can nurture the relationship and convert them to customers.