51% of small businesses in Australia are on social media. Is yours?
As of June 2018, 51 % of small businesses in Australia had a presence on social media, with that number growing year on year (Yellow Social Media Report 2018).
So why is it so important for your small business to be on social media and where should you start?
Social media offers small businesses the opportunity to create a presence online for no cost, get in front of their ideal customer (for a minimal cost) and build strong relationships and great rapport.
The opportunities that social media offer small businesses are unlimited. The only limitation your business faces is a lack of knowledge and planning.
Simply being on, or posting on, social media is not enough. You need to have a clear plan in order to leverage social media to your best advantage.
So how do you create a clear plan?
Step 1 - Who is your ideal client?
If I could send you 40 clients tomorrow, what would you want them to look like? Would they be male or female? How old would they be? Do they live local to you or is there a particular place that you seem to attract big spenders from? What brands does your client wear? Do they like weights or yoga? Where do they work? What car do they drive? Do they have children, if so, how old are they?
All of the above questions help you to think about exactly who your ideal client is, and by having a really clear understanding of who they are and what they look like you will be much better able to target your social media efforts in order to attract *THAT* client. Use your existing client base, those you have sold to before to determine exactly what the best spenders, or people you most want to work with look like.
Are you a brand new business and not quite sure who your target demographic is? That’s okay too. First and foremost, think about who you envisage getting the most value from your product or service and start by targeting them, as your business grows you will be able to more clearly define who you want to target based on statistics. But start by identifying your target audience using educated guesses.
Step 2 - Which social media platform/s will allow you to best connect with your ideal client?
There are a multitude of social media platforms - some of which I guarantee you have not heard of. But the main ones that will be beneficial to most businesses are:
Facebook - the epitome of ‘social’ media where people go to catch up on what their friends and family are doing. The benefit of Facebook is the ability to run highly targeted ads to your ideal client which can offer an exceptional return on investment - perfect for businesses who are able to clearly articulate the client they are targeting from the perspective of age, gender, locality and interests.
Instagram - if your product or service is visual (think hair / beauty / renovations / eCommerce / builders), you need to be on Instagram. Instagram is focused around a visual feed and great photography and imagery will have your audience stopping in their tracks to find out who you are and what you do. Organic accounts are still generating good views and the clever use of hashtags can have potential customers finding you without the use of paid ads - however, ads on Insta work very well too and offer great targeting - just like on Facebook.
YouTube - is a great platform for educating your clients, you can share video content that you create for other channels to YouTube or you can create and upload content to YouTube and then share from there. If you have knowledge that you think may benefit your clients that is relevant to your industry (think hairstyling how-to videos for a hairdresser, cleaning hacks for a cleaner, styling tips for a builder/stylist/homewares business) share it on YouTube.
LinkedIn - is a professional network. Where business and industry professionals go to find work, recruit staff and share what they are doing within their industry. If you are a beauty therapist, LinkedIn potentially isn’t the best platform to target, but if you are in a business to business industry you are able to leverage LinkedIn (via either a paid subscription or paid ads) to find and connect with your target demographic - the decision-makers within the companies that you want to work with.
Pinterest - is the inspiration platform. Like Instagram, it is heavily image focussed however, Pinterest imagery could be a great tip sheet as opposed to just a pretty picture. People using Pinterest are looking for inspiration & information, they create groups of pins which they can refer back to. The pins could be the inspiration for a new kitchen, or they could be tips on how to take the perfect photo. If you have informative, how-to or inspirational posts I suggest that you create an account on Pinterest to garner followers. Pinterest isn’t generally locally targeted, so oftentimes it works best for accounts that are not geographically limited and are able to link to an eCommerce website or training platform that they can monetise.
If you have a very young demographic from 13 - 25 you could also investigate the likes of Snapchat & TikTok as potential social media mediums in which you could reach your target demographic.
Step 3 - Plan your content
Now that you have identified your target audience and created a business page/account on the platform/s they are most likely to use, you need to plan the content strategy that will attract them and convert them into customers.
Think about how many times a week that you should post (it could range from once a week to 3 times a day - anything exceeding 3 times a day is excessive and really should be avoided) and what you will be including in your posts. My rule of thumb is that you should not have a “sales pitch” more frequently than every 5th post, you can even stretch this out to every 10th post. Aim for your posts to be a combination of inspiring (if this applies to your industry), humourous/relatable (think branded memes targeting your demographic) or educational (hints, tips etc).
My top tips for planning content are:
Create a list of all the pain points that your potential customer has and then list the kinds of posts which either: offer a solution to their problem (via your product or service), provide a handy tip around their problem (perhaps something they may be able to easily action without your product or service to make things better) or create a branded meme which either empathises/sympathises or makes light of their problem (obviously in good taste)
Look at a calendar and do some Googling and check dates/public holidays/world days that are relevant to your audience. If women are your target demographic - March 8 is International Women’s Day. If you are a Plumber - there is a World Toilet Day on the 19th of November.
Figure out what makes you and your business different from all the other businesses in your industry and SHARE it!!! Sometimes it is really difficult to toot your own horn, but you know what, if you don’t then no one else will. Start small, introduce your team and why they do what they do. Share their favourite part of their job, and their least favourite part.
My last and probably most important tip is:
Social media is *social*, a Google search for the definition of 'social' spits out “needing companionship and therefore best suited to living in communities”.
Each of the platforms mentioned above are social platforms and online communities, the more that you are actually social, relatable, kind and above all *HUMAN* in these communities, the better traction you will gain.
Ensure that your most important strategy is to add value and genuinely and actively engage with your audience. Do this, and social media will prove it’s worth over and over for you.