by Aditya Narula, head of customer success at Kabbage
Establishing a strong social media presence can mean big business for your small business. But if you don’t have dedicated resources to devote to it, or you don’t have much time to spare, you might find it tough to gain traction.
Use these nine social media tips to boost business and grow your brand.
1. Set Clear Goals.
No matter how eager you are to start using social media for your business, take the time to set clear goals before you begin. Try setting SMART goals — specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely — to guide your social media strategy.
For example, you can decide how many followers you plan to gain in a certain time period, or you can calculate the sales numbers you want to generate from your social media efforts. Be sure to research typical results so you’ll know how achievable your goals are and how many resources you’ll have to dedicate to making your objectives happen.
2. Join the Right Platforms.
Social media encompasses more than just Facebook. Many businesses also establish profiles on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Yelp and a long list of other platforms.
While it isn’t necessary to join every single platform, you should make sure that the ones you do choose are right for your business and for your audience. For example, LinkedIn tends to be most popular for business-to-business (B2B) companies, while Instagram is best for food, fitness, fashion, and other consumer goods with a strong visual presence. To find the right social media platforms, research where your competitors and your ideal customers tend to spend their time.
3. Create a Strategy.
After selecting one or more platforms, it’s time to create your social media strategy. After all, eye-catching social media posts don’t just appear out of thin air.
To hone your strategy, think about where the topics that appeal to your audience intersect with the issues that your small business stands for. Then make a chart of the content you’ve already created and the posts you have yet to produce or curate. Turn your plan into a calendar, and plot out when and where you’ll post, keeping your overall objectives in mind as you strategize.
4. Be Authentic.
As you’re crafting a strategy and starting to share content, always take care to speak in your brand’s voice. Using a generic voice or being overly self-promotional won’t help your small business stand out or stick in your followers’ minds. In short, be authentic.
If you’ve been in business for a long time, there’s a good chance your website copy or your marketing materials have already established your brand voice. Use that as a guide so what you say online is congruent with what customers read on your site. If your company is relatively new, however, try thinking about your brand’s beliefs and the way you want to interact with your audience as you craft a distinctive brand voice.
5. Know Your Audience.
To help your small business grow its social media audience, you’ll need to know your followers well. Start by referencing the data you’ve gathered on your ideal customer, and tailor your social media profile to your audience’s needs, wants, pain points, and interests.
A few times a year, check to make sure you’re still speaking to the right followers. Most social media platforms provide audience analytics to help you review your follower demographics and their peak times of activity. Then you can use what you’ve learned to fine-tune your social media presence as you go.
6. Make Engagement a Priority.
If you truly want your small business to be successful on social media, don’t set it and forget it. Instead, make audience engagement a priority. Check your profiles frequently, answer questions, and respond to comments on your posts.
Don’t stop there, however. Identify your biggest fans and your most valuable audience members, and engage with the content they create, too. Prioritizing engagement certainly takes time, but it gives your brand a personality and helps you build a stronger community, helping your business benefit in the long run.
7. Partner With Influencers.
To expand your brand’s reach on social media you’ll want to partner with influencers. Influencers can range from experts in your industry, credible individuals in your community or even your customers. The goal is to expand the reach of your company’s message and services through organic posts from others that share your target audience.
To make the most of any collaboration, seek out influencers specific to your niche, and take the time to build relationships with them before working together in an official capacity. Consider asking influencers to review your products or services or partnering with them to promote a giveaway. Nurturing long-term relationships can help your business grow over time, so consider your goals carefully before venturing into influencer campaigns.
8. Save Time With Third-Party Tools.
Making social media work for your business might sound like a lot of work. With the right third-party tools at your disposal, however, you can boost your business easily.
For example, rather than sharing social media posts in real time, try a third-party tool that allows you to schedule posts in advance. Instead of relying on the data that each platform provides, consider investing in a powerful software suite that offers robust analytics and simple suggestions for improvement. The cost of software and apps can add up quickly, but by being selective, sticking to a budget, and having flexible access to funds for marketing expenses, you can propel your small business’s growth forward.
9. Track Your Progress.
It’s never safe to assume that you’re making progress on social media if you aren’t tracking growth carefully. Review analytics for each platform at the end of every month, and check whether you’re working toward your goals as predicted.
Take note of the type of content that resonates best with your audience and note the kinds of posts that tend to flop, too. From adding more visual content to updating your posting times to responding to comments more quickly, modify your strategy as necessary to keep your business moving forward on social media.
Whether you’ve just launched your business or you’re growing a company you’ve been nurturing for years, a strong social media presence can help.
Aditya Narula is the head of customer success at Kabbage, a FinTech company helping small businesses get access to working capital. Prior to that, Aditya was a Leader in Bain’s Digital Practice where he focused on digital transformations, innovation and automation, serving clients in CPG, Financial Services, Real Estate and Private Equity.