As a small business owner, you have a lot on your plate: inventory, the budget and human resources, just to name a few. In light of all that, having strong marketing might seem like a luxury. But just as you develop a budget to manage your finances, it’s important to develop a plan for marketing and advertising — and the cost-effectiveness of social media makes it essential to include.
With social media, time is the biggest expense. And unfortunately, there’s more to social media than just creating a page. You perform best on social when you maintain and update your pages regularly. In many cases, you’ll use more than one platform to reach customers. And if you do all this properly, the return on investment is definitely worth it.
Engagement is the key to a successful social media strategy. You might think you don’t have time to sit in front a computer all day managing these pages. The good news is you don’t have to!
Check out these five tips for small business owners to boost social engagement.
It sounds obvious, but it needs to be said. One of the best ways to boost social engagement is to engage with your audience. Research your audience to determine which social media platforms they are using the most so you can focus your energy on those outlets. Check out your social media analytics to find out when people are visiting your pages and determine the best time to post new material.
Make sure you post creative, attention-grabbing material relevant to your audience’s interests. Ask thoughtful questions. They can be related to your industry or specific products or services that you offer. Posts with images and videos stand out in news feeds over those with just text. Use bold colors such as red and orange to create a sense of urgency.
Be sure to respond to questions and comments in a timely fashion, even the negative remarks. Remember to be honest and polite. Set times to conduct a live chat via Twitter or Facebook Live session to interact with your audience on a more personal level. You can also use livestreams to provide tours or previews of upcoming goods, services, sales, etc. from your business.
- Have a contest
Encourage customers to follow you on social media by having a contest; customers can earn entries when they follow your page. Additional entries can be earned with each additional like, share, retweet, check-in, etc.
Create a scavenger hunt that calls for people to post the answer to each question in the form of a selfie, with a hashtag at each stop. The more fun and exciting the experience is for the customer, the more likely they are to share it with their friends.
Remember, what works for one social media platform might not work for another. Be sure to tailor your contest to the platform and the audience. Prizes can be as big or as small as your budget allows, including weekend getaways, concert tickets, branded T-shirts or gift cards.
Try to find some way to link the prize to your business; if it’s a gift card, include a unique reminder of your brand that prominently displays your logo. Like everything else, make sure the prizes will be something your target audience will like, or they’ll be less likely to participate.
- Have an event
Host an open house, barbecue, meet-and-greet or some other type of community event. Promote your event on social media with a special event hashtag. In the days leading up to the event, post daily updates and include a fun countdown to generate buzz. You can include an announcement about the event, including what type of food, activities or special promotions visitors can expect.
Using your hashtag, post updates from the event as it happens to encourage people to stop by and show them what they’re missing. Be sure to take lots of photos and videos from the event so you can post them later. Have a giveaway or offer free samples or discount coupons to people who attend.
After the event, post those photos and videos from the event and encourage people to tag themselves, as well as share their own photos. Continue using your hashtag after the event is over; post questions asking people what they liked about the event or what they would like to see at your next one.
Partner with another business (or businesses) that offers goods or services complementary to yours. Make sure your partner shares the same values and morals as your company.
Offer a package featuring goods or services from each business at a discount to introduce customers to each other’s businesses. You can also do this by posting signs advertising each other in your businesses’ brick and mortar buildings. Mention each other in your newsletters and on your website, too.
Don’t forget to promote each other on social media – this allows your business to get in front of your partner’s followers. Be sure to discuss a strategy for what will be posted and when, so you are both on the same page and provide content both of your audiences will enjoy. Share your content at different times and days to increase the visibility among followers.
- Mobile billboard
Another great way to increase social engagement for your business is to make sure people know you’re on social media in the first place. Put up signs advertising the social platforms, which people can use to connect with your business through a QR code.
Have a car sticker or magnet made advertising your business and its social media accounts. Apply it to your vehicle to turn it into a mobile billboard that will promote your business wherever you go, whether it’s your regular commute or when you’re out running errands. You’ll even promote your business when you’re stuck in traffic or parked.
Remember your social media icons should be on all of your promotional material, including flyers and business cards. Don’t forget to link to your pages from your website, newsletters and blog, if you have one. When you have the opportunity, tell customers about your pages at checkout, too. You can encourage them to follow your social media accounts for a small discount (i.e. “Earn 10 percent off today’s order if you follow us on social!”).
Having successful social media pages can be difficult, but the rewards for your business make them worth the effort. There’s no one thing that works for everyone, so be sure to measure the results of what you are trying out. Conduct an analysis and research to ensure your audience will like and engage in what you’re doing. And don’t be afraid to make adjustments if something isn’t working to your benefit.