Nearly three billion people will have access to a social media account by 2020, according to market research company Statista.

With such a large captive audience within reach, small businesses will be looking to pile more budget and resource than ever into social media marketing. Almost half of small businesses (45%) use social media to market a product or service, and this figure is only likely to increase as more and more people get connected and go social.

Despite social media being part of the marketing mix for several years now, digital marketers still lack confidence in this area. And with 83% of marketers actively pursuing social media marketing initiatives in 2016, it’s crucial they learn how to master the process quickly. Here is some advice on how to get social media marketing right.

Think big, start small, learn fast

For small businesses, the prospect of integrating social media into your marketing campaign can be intimidating. Your first instinct might be to try and tackle all of the social channels at once to ensure maximum reach, but less is definitely more when starting out.

First, figure out your target market and which social media platform they are most likely to use. Once you’ve narrowed it down, you can start evaluating what kinds of content might engage your target audience. One quick way for newcomers to establish credibility on a platform is by building relationships with key influencers in their field and joining conversations on current industry trends.

It also pays to have a clear plan in place, so you can measure your progress and make sure you’re on track to meet your objectives. Having realistic and measurable goals in place, whether that be follower count, engagement rate, or number of social click-throughs to the website, will not only keep you focused, but help you determine when a change in strategy is needed.

Let your audience do the work for you

According to a 2016 PwC survey, 67% of us are influenced by reviews and comments on social media when we shop. Small businesses should be capitalising on this by encouraging followers to share their experiences. This has the double benefit of not only increasing brand loyalty by providing content your customers find useful, but it also means your users are creating content for you.

Of course, there are downsides of not being in control of content. You might run the risk of getting bad reviews, which would require a quick and empathetic response from your company to diffuse the situation. People may also question the credibility of the content, as well as the people who submit it. This can be remedied by getting your credible sources to upload a picture of themselves with the product.

Measure your performance

As marketing budgets increase so does the pressure on marketers to justify their spend. Although it can be difficult to measure precisely how well your marketing strategy is performing, social media metrics can provide a useful insight.

Native analytics tools are great free starting points for marketing teams looking to analyse how their social presence is performing in more detail. Once you’ve found your feet, it might make sense to switch to a paid solution which offers more in-depth insight.

For example, analytics tools like my company Iconosquare can track hashtag usage, keyword metrics and periods of high activity, which will help determine the impact your brand is having on social media.

Who are the main players?

Having raced past the 600 million user milestone in December 2016 (100 million of which joined in the last six months), Instagram, the Facebook-owned photo-sharing app, has become a vital marketing tool for businesses of all sizes. Its newest feature, Instagram Stories, which allows brands to upload a slideshow or video, gives them even more scope for creativity and user engagement. Instagram Stories is proving a fierce rival for Snapchat which works similarly.

This visual aspect of platforms like Instagram and Snapchat lends itself perfectly to retail and lifestyle brands, reliant on images of products and influencers to attract customers. For small businesses in these sectors it will pay to keep a close eye on new features from these platforms over the coming year, as they could promise a fast way to get lots of attention for early adopters.

Social media will save you money

If you’re a small business, it is crucial that you develop an active social media presence. While traditional marketing can be very expensive, social media is both cheap and offers you direct access to prospective customers. It isn’t easy to get right, and what you’ll save in money you’ll definitely lose in time to begin with, but once you’ve got to grips with the different platforms, you’ll soon begin to reap the benefits.

 

By Romain Ouzeau, CEO of Iconosquare


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