It’s 2020, and social media marketing is here to stay. If you’re not already on the bandwagon, I have one question for you: what are you waiting for?

When it comes to connecting with your target audience, building brand awareness, and growing your company’s reach and engagement, nothing gets the job done like social media marketing. Yes, even for your small business.

“Social media is the ultimate equalizer. It gives a voice and a platform to anyone willing to engage. ”

– Amy Jo Martin

Many small business owners still aren’t convinced of the powers of social media, convinced that you need a highly-stylized Instagram grid or a professional Facebook ad marketer just to get anywhere. That assumption is false.

When it comes to marketing, there are two directions you can go in: traditional marketing or digital marketing. Traditional marketing means putting out ads in newspapers, magazines, phone books, and the like. With digital marketing, you use Google and social tools like Facebook and Instagram to disperse your advertisements.

graph of social media users

I’m here to show you how focusing your marketing efforts on social media as opposed to traditional forms of advertising (does anyone even read newspapers anymore?) can supercharge your business.

First Of All, How Do Users and Brands Interact on Social Media?

According to Statista, users say that social media is the second most-preferred way for brands to get in touch with them. Email marketing still leads the way, but we’ll touch on that later.

25% may not seem all that much, however, when the tables are turned, 90% of users surveyed have used social media to communicate with a brand.

This is just one example of why social media is so important to small businesses. The click-to-purchase rate on social channels is not the main advantage of creating a social media presence. Social media is a fantastic way to increase brand awareness and put your product or service out there. If you’re not visible on the digital channels where your customers tend to hang out, then they will go straight to a competitor.

Alright, I’m Convinced. Now, How Do I Get Started?

If you’re just beginning to build your social media strategy from scratch, the task can seem daunting. 

As a small business, you don’t have the same resources as a big company to devote to social media. You’re likely taking care of so many other areas of your business that adding another daily task to keep track of just doesn’t seem worth it.

Don’t get overwhelmed. Breaking down the steps you need to create, launch, and maintain your social media channels will help ease you into the process with easily digestible tasks. I recommend starting by exploring three different parts of your strategy and asking yourself the right questions.

Step 1: Exploration

man holding compass

Before you launch yourself into creating multiple social media posts, it’s important to gain a sense of direction. Consider the following questions:

  • There are so many channels out there nowadays besides the obvious Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. How do I know which ones to choose?
  • I know who my target audience is, but how can I be sure to find them on social media?
  • What is my goal with social media marketing? Do I want to increase sales, promote brand awareness, drive traffic to my website, or something else?

One way to explore possible answers to these questions is by studying what your competitors are already doing. Pick a few businesses that offer similar products or services to your own, and analyze what they’re doing on social media. 

When it comes to setting goals and objectives for social media, try and be as realistic as possible, especially if you’re just starting out. “I want my business to get 1 million followers on Instagram” is a much less attainable goal than “I’d like to increase my conversion rate by 5% using targeted Facebook ads.” By focusing on smaller goals, you’re more likely to be successful.

Step 2: Preparation

Once you’ve conducted your research and gained inspiration from other brands and businesses, it’s time to create a concrete plan. Coming equipped with answers to the questions you asked yourself in the “exploration” stage will make this step a lot easier.

When it comes to choosing which social media platform is best, you need to consider your industry. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are the big three, so I recommend choosing at least two of these to use the most often. 

However, there are also tons of niche social media platforms that can help you reach a more specific audience. Here are a few good platforms I recommend based on your profession:

Your industryBest social media platforms
Visual or creative artist(Photographer, painter, graphic designer, handicrafts, etc.)500PX, Flickr, Deviantart, Behance.net, Etsy, Pinterest, Picasaweb
B2B Business(Marketer, branding expert, SaaS, etc.)Medium.com, Reddit, Meetup, Medium.com, WordPress
MusicSoundcloud, YouTube, Bandcamp
EducationPinterest, YouTube, Google+
Retail & Services(food, beauty services, stores, consulting, handyman, etc.)Google Maps, Yelp, Foursquare
Travel and hospitalityPinterest, YouTube, TripAdvisor, WordPress, Blogger.com
Non-profitLinkedIn, YouTube, Google+, Pinterest
Real estateZillow, LinkedIn, Trulia

Now that you have a better idea of where to reach your targeted audience, it’s important to have a clear overview of your goals.

There are many things you can use social media for, but when it comes to small businesses, it’s important to focus on a few key aspects in order to maximize your company’s growth. According to sproutsocial, these are the main reasons small businesses use social media:

Graph of social media marketers

Let’s break down the main reasons and see why they’re so important for small businesses: 

  • Brand awareness: First things first, it’s imperative that customers know that your business exists. Social media helps spread the word about your brand faster than other traditional forms of marketing, as it allows users to share content they find helpful or interesting. 
  • Community engagement: Customer service doesn’t end after the purchase is complete or the service is rendered. You need to make sure your client will come back to you time and time again, and the best way to do this is to stay active and communicative on social media. Engage with your community in order to be memorable and stay relevant.
  • Drive traffic: Use your social media channels wisely in order to send traffic to your main hub, your website. Sure, not every click will turn into a sale, but if you use compelling CTAs, driving traffic using social media can be more effective than purchasing costly Google ads.
  • Generate leads: If you’re investing your time into your social media strategy, you want to make sure it’s fruitful. Make sure you’re using your CTAs correctly so that users are prompted to send you a message, give you a call, or click on an ad.
  • Distribute content: This one seems obvious, but in an era where content is king (or queen!), it’s important to be mindful of every piece of content you put out. Whatever you post on your social media accounts is part of your overall image, so you want to make sure you maintain a level of content curation to ensure that users are consistently interested in the content you distribute. 

Organize Your Goals With a Social Media Calendar

When you’re in the preparation stage, it’s also important to set up processes that will help to smoothly maintain your social media. Implementing a social media calendar is a good way to plan your posts ahead of time. With a social media calendar, you can make sure that you never miss out on creating posts for important holidays and that there is never a big gap in your online presence. You can also easily break down your posts by goals, so you can dedicate a certain amount of posts for driving traffic and generating leads, and the rest of them to foster engagement and promote brand awareness. 

holding an Ipad with the calendar

Step 3: Implementation

Now that you know where your audience is and what you want to accomplish on social media, you can put your plan into action.

Once your social media calendar is in place, you should be posting regularly on the relevant social media channels. However, there are still a few things to keep in mind when creating social media posts.

Be Authentic

Users appreciate brands that keep it real. Don’t try too hard to force your brand into something it’s not. Make sure the content you’re sharing is in-line with your brand, and don’t be afraid to be funny or quirky. 

Find Your Voice

Using a cohesive voice across all your marketing materials will help strengthen your brand. A good way to do this is to put a face to your brand. This can be a person, a mascot, or anything else that forces you to stick to one unified tone.

Post Regularly

Posting regularly will help you stay at the forefront of your customer’s feeds. However, it’s important to remember that when it comes to social media, it’s quality over quantity. You don’t want to be bombarding your audience with constant posts. By selecting well-structured, thoughtful, quality content you’re making sure that you communicate only the most important information to your community.

Don’t Forget to Engage

Notice the word “social” in “social media?” Some businesses tend to forget about this. Social media is about more than just posting and driving traffic. It’s important to always engage your audience. Ask them questions, reply to their comments, and give them content they like to interact with.

Track Your Performance

Creating a single strategy is great, but you have to be able to track and adjust it. Sometimes posts that work for company X don’t work as well for company Y. Make sure you’re checking into your data and analytics frequently to see if your strategy is meeting the goals you set out or if it needs some tweaking.

Integrate Social Media Into Your Emails

Best Gmail Extensions

Remember how we saw earlier that customers still prefer email communications over all other forms? This is important to your overall marketing strategy, and if you take advantage of maximizing your email marketing campaigns, you can really grow your reach.

Jeff email signature with instagram feed

Email marketing is still one of the most effective marketing strategies out there with a staggering 3,800% ROI. If you’re already sending out an email newsletter, then adding in social media buttons can be a resourceful way to get clients to interact with you on multiple channels.

Having social media buttons in your email signature is an easy way to ensure that every email you send out creates an opportunity for growth and engagement. WiseStamp lets you create a personalized email signature where you can select one of nearly 50 social media icons. You can also upload your own icon if the one you’re looking for isn’t there. 

e-mail signatures

Another great feature is that you can add a customized social media icons based on your profession. If you’re a photographer, then adding a small-scale version of your Instagram feed is a great way to get your recipients curious to see more. You can also add a small banner to promote a specific item, sale, or event.

Small Business, Big Goals

When it comes to social media marketing, the sky’s the limit on what you can do with it. Once you have your social media strategy down to a science, you can start experimenting with different ways to grow your business even more. Running social media campaigns, giveaways, or collaborating with influencers are all lucrative avenues to explore.

Small businesses especially should be taking full advantage of social media marketing. You don’t need to be a big brand to have an impact. By establishing a distinct voice, engaging with your users, and regularly posting authentic content, you can grow your business and strengthen your brand. 

Who knows, with the right social media strategy, your small business just might become a big one someday.