Small business, by the numbers
Social media presents an unprecedented opportunity for small businesses to connect with one of the largest, most engaged audiences in the world. According to the 2017 Sensis Social Media report, nearly 80% of all Australians are active on at least one social media channel, with 59% of those accessing it daily, and over a third checking over five times a day. Some 99% of people aged 18-29 are on social media, and 86% of people aged 40-49.
81% of social media time is now spent on mobile devices
Only 47% of small-medium sized businesses have a social media presence, compared to 60% of large businesses. Large businesses are leading the way, with 90% of large businesses having a social media strategy. Consumers are also on board – proven to be more likely to trust a brand if it interacts with its customers on social media and regularly updates content.
Though the list of new social channels grows by the day, we’ll take a look at the ‘big four’ and how your small business can use them to effectively reach your audience.
Facebook: The heart of everything
As the most-visited website in the world (!), Facebook should act as a central hub for your entire social media presence – allowing you to find your audience (with invites and advertising), tell your story (via unique content), sell your product (with highly targeted promoted content), and employ game-changing customer service (via comments and messages) in one place. You can share all types of media – from links, photos, and videos to more ‘rich’ content like 360° photos/videos and the interactive ‘Canvas’ format, as long as your content reflects your small business in a relevant way. Sometimes this means posting funny and relatable images, and sometimes this means showing thought leadership and serious expertise to gain trust.
The biggest strength from Facebook comes with their robust advertising system, where you can create ads targeted to very specific lists of people (known as ‘audiences’), filtered by anything from age, location, and interests all the way down to those who liked one of your previous posts. Consider how a billboard is shown to millions of people (where only 5-10% of people might be interested) – you can cut out the people who are not interested in your business so only the most engaged people see your ads. It allows for huge cost savings and can be constantly optimised so you’re always getting the most from your budget.
With 50 e-learning modules, the Facebook ‘Blueprint’ will give you everything you need to get started.
Instagram: Make it look great
Once the realm of fitness bloggers and the professional brunch set, Instagram offers a visual storytelling platform that (thanks to over four hundred million active users) any small business can find an audience on.
Clean, professional photos are the official currency of the ‘gram: you can tell your brand story with tantalising product shots, behind the scenes snaps, employee showcases, exclusive deals , community events, and inspirational, on-brand photos from your industry (as long as you credit the original user!). Allow your audience to find you via #hashtags in your captions, communicate with them via comments, check-in to your area to show people where you are, and let other pages know you like their work by commenting on their images, too! Content that performs well on Instagram includes high-quality photography, videos, flat-lay photos, illustrations, and animated GIFs. As links don’t work on Instagram (without sponsorship), your posts must be ‘on brand’ and not too ‘salesy’, or else your audience could disengage and scroll right past your feed. It’s generally recommended not to post more than once a day unless you have a genuine reason to do so.
Instagram shares the exact same advertising system as Facebook (Facebook bought Instagram in 2012), with the ability to promote content between both channels. Check out their guide for more information on how to get started!
Twitter: Shout out your day-to-day
Despite its 280-character post limit, Twitter is the platform where you can let it all out. From hourly news, company updates, event coverage, quotes, and opinions, all the way to photos, videos, and links – let your audience know what you stand for, and why daily life is exciting at your small business. If you have expertise in an area, ‘Retweet’ those in your industry you think are doing great things, and you may end up becoming a thought leader in your industry. With its ‘micro post’ nature, anything from 1-10 tweets a day is acceptable, just as long as you are keeping things relevant!
— Vanishing Elephant (@VE_SYDNEY) September 13, 2016
Twitter also allows you to categorise who you follow in ‘lists’ so you don’t miss anything coming from competitors, customers, or other thought leaders in the space.
LinkedIn: Down to business
With over 3.8m active users in Australia alone, LinkedIn is the not-so-secret weapon that some 92% of B2B marketers use to push themselves to potential clients and employees (including 96% of the white-collar workforce).
LinkedIn allows your business to tell its story on a more corporate level – what makes you innovative, what makes you unique, why you are the best company to work for in X space. Content that performs well on LinkedIn includes business-focused photos, videos, infographics and links to external sites that support your cause. It’s also a great platform to follow your competitors, and how you can position your own business either towards or away from their direction. LinkedIn also ranks very highly on Google’s search engine algorithms – so linking your web page to your company LinkedIn page could boost your SEO presence when people are searching for your business. Created by LinkedIn, The Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide to Content Marketing is a fantastic resource for getting started on LinkedIn.
Making it mobile friendly
With 80% of social media time now spent on mobile devices, it’s important that you optimise your content to follow suit. This means getting into the head of your audience, and post what they would want to see when ‘on the go’: think images with a strong visual hierarchy (simple and easy to read), video content that doesn’t require sound, and only linking to mobile-friendly websites.
Pages that are clunky, have incorrect image dimensions, or look visually unappealing will quickly be ignored, and you will have to work harder to keep their attention in a fast-moving space.
Questions you should ask
Of course, the best way to learn how to use social media is to get out there and try it yourself. Start a page, make some posts, see what your audience responds to, and optimise your approach accordingly. You will be publishing your canvas’, white-listing your tweets, and re-targeting your pixels before you know it.
The 5 questions to ask for social media success
- Purpose: Does every social post have a distinct purpose? I.e. to educate, inform, prompt an action (click, donate), or promote?
- Message: What is the key message of your social posts? Have one, clear message per post to ensure it’s success is direct
- Quality vs. Quantity: Are your posts of high quality (no blurry or pixelated images) or are they too vague for your audience to understand?
- Engage your audience: Can you respond to (and learn from) your audience comments? Even negative ones are an opportunity for a positive customer service experience!
- Use media wisely: Are you keeping an eye on your advertising dollars? All social platforms offer paid-promotion via audience targeting – test it, learn from poor performance and constantly optimise to get the biggest bang from your buck.
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