In the modern business world, having a social media presence is a must. Not only is this channel a fantastic way to connect with customers, but it also adds social proof and clout to your establishment.
Small businesses with limited resources— both human and monetary— often struggle with their social media efforts, which can be time-consuming and nuanced.
Putting a strategy in place can help your small business expand and boost profits over time. Here is a step-by-step guide for creating a social media strategy for small businesses.
Steps to create powerful Social Media strategy
Clarify Your Audience
One of the common mistakes businesses make when establishing a social media presence is jumping into content creation.
Before creating or curating content, it's integral to consider who the content is for. In this case, you should cater your content to your ideal customer— in other words, the people who are most likely to purchase your product or service.
Take some time to clarify your ideal audience and outline your target demographic. Consider what type of content that person wants to see from your business. For example, a small grocer could share content on product sales but also share delicious recipes.
Contrary to popular belief, the smaller and more specific your niche, the better your success will be over time. Catering to your ideal customer doesn't mean that people outside that demographic won't engage with your content; it improves the chances of converting sales by creating a genuine connection with a specific group.
Choose Your Platforms
Another common mistake that new businesses make when developing a social media strategy is spreading their resources too thin across platforms. While there's plenty of room for cross-promoting and repurposing content for other platforms, it all comes back to clarifying your audience.
Simply put, direct your resources to the platforms where your target audience is also present.
It's always better to have one or two platforms with consistent, high-quality content than every platform with content gaps.
Using the example of the small grocer, Facebook is a great platform for targeting a baby boomer and elder millennial market, while Instagram is a visually-driven platform that's ideal for the general millennial population.
Conversely, LinkedIn is more about professional connections and business networking, which isn't necessarily aligned with the grocer's efforts. Yes, the people on LinkedIn need groceries, but they aren't using that platform for that purpose.
Spend some time on researching which platforms are right for your small business, and start with one or two until you build a consistent posting routine.
Put the Right Tools in Place
Another integral step in the strategic process is implementing the right tools for social media scheduling, posting, and analyzing. This consideration is especially important for small businesses with limited resources and no marketing team.
Using an Instagram scheduler, for example, will allow you to bulk upload content, preview how everything looks, and easily delegate social media tasks to staff. Moreover, you can also use HubSpot- social media marketing software for scheduling, posting, and analyzing the performance.
With the right tool in place, a small business owner can save hours in planning and posting content by incorporating AI and automation.
While many schedulers have a nominal fee attached, they're well worth the opportunity cost of having to post content and pull analytics manually.
Take some time to find similar businesses that are doing social media well. Determine what it is about their content or approach that appeals to you and which aspects you'd like to emulate with your own strategy.
For example, the small grocer might see a health food store that shares a #TipTuesday post about cutting back on food waste or streamlining the food preparation process. The grocer could then take this inspiration and make it their own.
It's important to understand the difference between seeking inspiration and stealing content. Find ideas that are in alignment with your brand, and add your unique elements.
If you decide to share something from another company, give credit where credit is due. Ideally, you'll share content from someone who isn't in direct competition with your business.
Don't forget to look at your direct competition when ideating social media content. Determine what they're doing well, and more importantly, what they're missing. The gap in their content is an opportunity for you to offer a solution that their customers have been missing.
Create a Content Calendar
The content calendar is the roadmap of your social media strategy. This document will outline what you'll post and when you'll post it. Many schedulers have a calendar view so that you can easily envision the weeks or months ahead.
When you create a content calendar, clarify which content is yours, which is curated from other sites, and what user-generated content (UGC) you'll be sharing.
Keep in mind that a content calendar isn't set in stone. Certain events and opportunities may arise that cause you to pivot and post an ad hoc video or photo or change your schedule entirely.
Many small businesses were faced with this challenge at the start of the global pandemic and quickly discovered that their monthly calendar was suddenly totally irrelevant.
Clarify the Intentions of Each Post
When creating a social media strategy, it can be beneficial to outline the intentions of each post. Some posts will be promotional, while others will help build brand awareness or boost engagement.
Plan to have some "filler" content on your content calendar to appeal to the algorithms, even when you don't have a clear strategy in place.
For example, the grocer may share this week's deals as a promotional post. Then, they might share recipes that contain ingredients from their promotional posts. Finally, the grocer might have a few days where they share aesthetically pleasing cooking videos or food facts.
These latter posts are simply to maintain posting consistency and increase visibility rather than pushing conversions.
Interact with Followers
Before you start posting, clarify how you'll interact with people on your posts. Every time someone comments on your content, it boosts your reach and engagement. By responding to these comments, you'll help boost these metrics further while building a rapport with your audience.
Some businesses take an ad hoc approach when responding to followers. However, if you have limited time and resources, setting aside 10-15 minutes at the beginning and end of the day can help you stay on top of comments and queries. For promotional posts, it's better to have someone tasked with responding throughout the day.
Analyze Your Progress
After you start posting content, create a review process to analyze your progress. Once you get into a consistent posting schedule, you may choose to set goals for increasing followers or engagement each month.
Analyzing your progress will provide valuable insights into what resonates with your audience. As you discover which posts get more engagement or conversions, you can shape your future content to reflect your successful posts.
When analyzing your social media insights, consider the variables the could influence the success of certain posts. Look for themes over time.
The Last Say
Does content posted in the morning perform better than similar content posted in the afternoon? Are customers commenting on and sharing recipes while ignoring your #TuesdayTips?
Identifying these themes will help you adjust your approach and refine your social media strategy for success.
With this simple step-by-step process, you can build an effective social media marketing for your small business.