No matter who your customers are, it’s likely you’ll find them online. More than 50% of the global population is now connected to the internet, according to a recent report, totaling 3.8 billion global users. Today businesses of all sizes and across industries need to think about engaging their customers on social media platforms.
But what does a successful social media strategy look like for small and medium-sized businesses? Many entrepreneurs may not have the resources to hire a dedicated social media manager or post multiple times a day. But even when working with a smaller budget or team, there are ways for SMBs to create a targeted social media strategy that ensures they’re reaching the right people at the right time. In honor of Social Media Day, we asked savvy Kabbage customers their tips on how to use social to reach audiences and grow their businesses.
1. Choose Your Platforms Wisely
“Find out where your audience is,” says Bonnie, Maudlin, founder of Mauldin Group, an Atlanta-based digital marketing agency. “A retail ice cream store is probably going to find Facebook and Twitter as their best outlets for engagement, whereas a small manufacturing B2B company is going to find their best leads and engagement on LinkedIn. Wasting time on the wrong platform can be fruitless and frustrating. And, don’t forget the effectiveness of Instagram, which is becoming the No. 1 platform for ALL businesses.”
2. Be Authentic
David Hancock, founder of Morgan James Publishing, stresses authenticity and acting as a resource for your audience above all else. “Social media should be about serving your audience. It’s not about sales; it’s about engagement and education. Only 1-5% of our social communication is about what we sell. Otherwise, it falls on deaf ears and you’ll turn people off. Make it about your audience.”
3. Use Social To Get the Word Out
“It is crucial for every business to have a social media presence,” says Bonnie. “This is especially true for small-to-medium businesses that depend on a referral network for much of their lead generation. For the business owner, social media is a cost-effective way to syndicate news about product launches, sales promotions and offer discounts to drive traffic.
4. Make Yourself “Discoverable”
David’s advice is that “even a small social presence is key for brand awareness. It’s very important to be in as many places as possible so that people can discover you. A social media presence should be up to date, relevant to your audience and consistent in its messaging — and it needs to be everywhere.”
5. Create Content That Serves Your Audience
An effective social media strategy can take a variety of forms, depending on the industry or customers. David leverages a strong social presence to engage, educate and celebrate the authors who publish their books through his company. Many authors he’s worked with leave reviews on Facebook, while the company’s Pinterest page showcases the vibrant covers of authors’ books. Morgan James also uses Twitter and Facebook to promote new books and offer motivational posts to encourage its audience.
Meanwhile, Bonnie uses Twitter and Facebook to share news, educational posts and videos with Mauldin Group’s digitally-savvy customer base. Its YouTube page features informational videos on digital marketing tactics and events, while its LinkedIn page highlights client success stories and shares best practices. “We use our social media to not only highlight our services but to engage with our audience for brand recognition, education, news and to put a face on the business.”
Whether you’re a coffee shop, an e-commerce brand or a professional services agency, there’s a lot to be gained from engaging customers online. Business owners must think strategically about which social media channels are right for them, how often to post, and what kind of content their audience will find useful.