Shocked screaming young woman in glasses with her social network friends and business partners in a diagramUnderstanding the basics of how social media can be used to connect with your target audience is a powerful and inexpensive marketing strategy. 53% of small businesses in the U.S. are actively using social media according to a study by Clutch.

As a small business owner, it may often feel as if there isn’t enough time, energy, resources or money to put into building a compelling online presence, however, social media can be simple and manageable with the five following steps:

1. Be specific about who you are, your purpose and the end goal.

When it comes to creating an account for your brand on social media platforms, each profile needs to state who and what you do as a business. What value to you deliver to your target customer?

Include a great profile photo and an engaging bio with a link to your website in the space provided to describe your business. When it comes to your profile photo as a logo mark, make sure that viewers can see your entire logo within the small space provided. Instagram now allows business accounts and personal profiles. Brand advocates can interact directly with your company, and each employee also maintains their own personal profile.  A business account can help you gain more information on who your target customers are once you have enough followers and data that shows you impressions, reach and how shareable your content has been.

2. Figure out your audience and target them specifically

Knowing your audience is key to gaining followers and creating content that will keep them interested. Understanding your customer persona down to their individual personalities, hobbies, interests and demographics will allow you to create content that invites them to follow you and share your information. It will also provide you with key insights on their purchase behaviours. Ask yourself these questions when defining your audience:

  • Are they male or female? 50/50?
  • Where do they live?
  • How much income do they make?
  • What is their lifestyle?
  • What keeps them awake at night?
  • How can you solve their problems or make them happy?

When it comes to picking your platforms, answers to the above questions will help you determine the social media websites that will be best for your small business, and how to communicate to gain followers that turn into customers.

For example, Twitter, is commonly used for various purposes allowing you to follow and connect with others in your target market, in addition to learning about events, interests, industry happenings, products and services, and businesses near you. Twitter users differ on age with statistics from Statista showing that 14% of users are between the ages of 18-24, 21% are in the 25 to 34 age category, and the same goes for ages 55 to 64 demographic. In 2018, Twitters average monthly active users (MAU) were 326 million, according to Cision

59% of internet users between the ages of 18 and 29 use Instagram, and 33% of internet users between 30 and 49 are on the platform, with most of Instagram’s users being female. 80% of all Instagrammers reside outside the United States, reported Omnicore

3. Build relationships with other brands and audience through engagement

When it comes to social media, relationships are very important. Whether it is responding to questions in your comment section on Instagram, or gaining professional connections on LinkedIn, you want to make a valuable impression on those who follow you by regularly engaging with them.  It’s a two-way relationship verses pushing out promotional information.

Social media is a personal communication tool for many users and brands, similar to a conversation on the telephone, therefore by creating a unique and personalized experience for people to interact with you, your team, and ultimately your brand, you have a big opportunity to make new friends that can turn into long term loyal customers.

4. A Content Calendar is key to remaining consistent

A content calendar is key to an organized week, especially when starting social media for your small business.  The calendar will help with all of your social platform activity from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest to your other complimentary marketing activities. A content calendar defines what to post, when to post it, and what content is needed for future posts. Your calendar should include national holidays, important dates in your industry, and even school holidays depending on who your demographic is. And, don’t forget future events happening in your community.

A content calendar will save time allowing you to focus on the next step, so you don’t get so stressed out meeting deadlines without a clear roadmap to follow. This will also help you to be more strategic with your posts, and allow you to prepare for what’s next in your business. Get ready to optimize your social media with a content calendar. 

5. Always link back to your website

Linking back to your website will allow users to see your eye-catching brand and company culture based on your website information.  Think of your website as your online home base where all relevant business information is found and trust is earned.

You want people to visit your website and spend time learning more about your company, and its products and services. This is where you can capture their contact information so that you can continue to build a one-to-one relationship and nurture the lead towards becoming a customer.

Other reasons to link your social media accounts to your website:

  • Trackable traffic with data on the pages they visit
  • Makes your social platform valuable and credible
  • Positive contribution from users interested in your business

With these five easy steps your social media activity will help to grow your small business opportunities and enable you to stay organized and consistent, which is the key to benefiting from this type of (free) marketing. Don’t forget to be specific about who you are and what you offer to your customers, reach out to your target audience, maintain an active presence on the right channels for your business, build relationships through two-way conversations, create a content calendar to make your social media process easier, and always remember to link back to your website.

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