Oct 1, 2021

10 Ways Small Businesses Can Improve Their Social Media Presence

by Digital Marketing Institute

Small businesses around the world know that social media is here to stay. You only need to look at the social media demographics across platforms to know that! But that doesn’t mean you have  had the chance to put in the time or effort necessary to cultivate a proper presence on the right networks.

Even if you haven't optimized your social media presence, there’s still time, and the benefits will be  worth the effort. There are many advantages to cultivating your brand on social media. It can help  improve your brand’s social customer service, allow you to communicate with customers and prospects on a new level, help  engage and reach new audiences, build authority, and drive traffic to your website.

In short, creating a practical social media strategy can drive growth for your small business by fostering lasting and loyal relationships with prospects and customers. To ensure your brand’s presence on social media is managed with quality and consistency, use a social media style guide to keep track of the many different elements.

1. Choose the Right Networks

Social media has exploded since Facebook went public back in 2012, and there are thousands of networks dedicated to anything from connecting old classmates to social activism.

So with all these options, how does a business pick  the right ones? The advice from most experts is to join the most popular, and choosing the right ones comes down to your audience and your goals. Here's some information to help get you started:

  • Facebook: the largest platform, has 2.89 billion active monthly users, and the site is ideal for businesses that want to generate leads and build relationships. If you’re a beginner to the network, check out this guide to advertising on Facebook!
  • LinkedIn: the platform for business networking can be used by both B2B and B2C businesses to create trust, build authority, and engage audiences.
  • Twitter: whose platform is immediacy, is perfect for businesses whose major audience is under 50 and who need to stay on top  of time-sensitive information like breaking news, announcements, and trending topics.
  • Pinterest: the photo sharing site, is a fantastic platform for businesses with visual appeal (think restaurants, fashion, art, travel, and weddings). It’s more for social discovery than social networking, and is great for driving sales because so many users look to the site to plan purchases.
  • Snapchat: the expiring-content platform, is one of the fastest growing social networking sites despite rumours of the parent company Snap being in trouble a few years ago. Businesses can leverage Snapchat by offering promotions, providing personalized content, giving exclusive access, and building relationships with influencers  to drive brand recognition and loyalty.
  • Instagram: Instagram was so successful that just 2 years after launching it was bought by Facebook, in 2012. Its success is rooted in staying true to its original goal - allowing users to post photos and videos from their mobile. The creation of Instagram Stories (an idea stolen from Snapchat!) featuring content that expires in 24 hours has enabled it to amass nearly 1 billion global users.
  • TikTok: A phenomenon in the social media world, TikTok is a force to be reckoned with, seeing rapid growth during the Covid-19 pandemic. It is the first app not owned by Facebook to have reached 3 billion installs due to its popularity amongst influencers and celebrities. The usability of the platform, huge music directory, and unique filters attract an engaged younger demographic.  

2. Set a Goal

Being active on social media has a number of benefits for your business, and there are many things you can accomplish with a social presence. This includes performing customer service, engaging customers, generating leads, expanding your audience, driving sales, increasing web traffic, gaining valuable insights and feedback, and much more.

But in order to achieve these with any measure of success, you must have a goal to work towards because you'll need to take steps to create a social media strategy and get there. Your techniques for driving sales, for instance, will be different from  your approach  to improve your customer service offering. So it’s important to know what you want to accomplish.

3. Come up with a Strategy

Having a goal for improving your social media presence is great, but it’s only the beginning. Once you know what you want to achieve, you have to come up with a plan to get there.

Start by designating the person or people who will be part of the social media team, and break up their roles and responsibilities so everybody knows what's expected and when.

You should also decide on your posting frequency, and create a content calendar that will help you plan posts and don’t miss days. This  approach to scheduling is a big part of your strategy and there are great social media calendar templates you can use that lay out:

  • Who your audience is
  • What topics and subjects your audience is interested in
  • The usable content you already have
  • What kind of content you still need to create or curate
  • When and on what platforms content will be published

The most effective way to develop a strategy for your business is to learn from the best. Consider a social media and marketing course that focuses on social research and social strategy so you find your audience and know how to engage them.

4. Make a Content Creation or Curation Plan with Your Audience in Mind

Knowing your audience is critical when it comes to finding success with social media engagement. This is because the interests and needs of your audience will determine the type of content you should share and the way you engage your followers.

For instance, if you’re  a coffee roastery, your target audience might be interested in recipes for fancy coffee drinks, brewing tips and techniques, and other Java-related articles. Some of the important things you should know about your audience include age, location, gender, goals, likes, needs, behaviors, challenges, and pain points.

No matter who your audience is, the content  you share should always be high quality and relevant. You should investigate the popular content types and prioritize video, images, and other types of visual content as often as possible because these are favored  by all demographics and  audiences.

5. Select Tools to Schedule and Automate Posts

Staying active and present on social media takes time and dedication. But there are plenty of automation tools available to content creators to automatically publish and schedule posts up to a month in advance.

These tools, which include Hootsuite, Sprout Social, Buffer, MeetEdgar, and BuzzSumo, can save you time by allowing you to plan and schedule batches of posts at once. They also make it easier to monitor your networks and respond to messages quickly.

6. Actively Engage Your Audience in Relevant Ways

Although content is supremely important on social media, it’s not enough to just post your content and walk away. You have to create content that excites and entertains to connect and drive engagement. That way you can foster the relationships you want to build and gain the trust of your audience.

There are many ways you can engage with your audiences:

  • Comment on posts
  • Start and participate in conversations
  • Share relevant information
  • Share user-generated content (UGC)
  • Ask and answer questions
  • Post polls and follow up with the results
  • Address complaints and criticisms
  • Show appreciation for customers

7. Minimize the Time You Spend Promoting

Although the practice of social selling to increase sales is becoming increasingly popular among salespeople and marketers, the process of using social networks to drive growth is different from what most people are used to.

Rather than using social as an active promotional platform, it’s best to use it as a tool for engagement and communication.

In fact, it’s recommended that businesses follow the 80/20 rule and keep their promotional content to 20%.The lion’s share of content should be dedicated to meeting the needs of your audience.

8. Maintain a Constant Presence & Brand Voice

Social media isn't a one and done deal. It takes time and patience to cultivate a reliable presence.

An ideal platform for brand building and recognition, it’s crucial that every post is in line with your brand and image. This can become difficult if you have multiple people assigned to social media, because everybody will bring their own personality to their posts.For this reason, it’s best to limit the number of people responsible for posting, and make sure everyone knows the voice and image you want to present.

When it comes to posting, automation tools used effectively can save you a lot of time and ensure your presence on your networks even when you’re not! With the right tools, you can minimize the time you have to dedicate to social media, but it will still require at least 15 minutes a day to monitor your channels and respond to questions .

In terms of posting frequency, the right number really depends on the platform you're using. For LinkedIn and Facebook, don’t post more than once a day, and limit posts to five times a week. Twitter, on the other hand, changes so quickly that the more you post, the better. With Pinterest, 11 pins a day seems to be the magic number while Instagram audiences seem to like 1-2 posts a day.

9. Watch the Right Metrics to Monitor Your Progress

Social media use is growing all the time, and every month there are more active users than the one before, especially on the popular networks. It’s not necessary to have a presence on every social platform out there. It’s a much better strategy to define your goals, locate your audience, and pick the networks that are right for you based on those factors.

Your brand capabilities and social media goals will determine the metrics that matter and it’s important to measure these to ensure you're on the right track. For instance, if you want to increase site traffic, then pay attention to the amount of referral traffic coming from social.

There are many resources you can rely on for metrics, including Google Analytics, Facebook Analytics and page insights, Sprout Social, LinkedIn company pages report, Keyhole, Twitter analytics and keyword reports, Buffer, and BuzzSumo.

10. Keep learning by enrolling in a social media and marketing course

The key to mastering social media is to understand how to find and engage your audience and how each platform works. A great way to do this is to take the time to enrol in a social media and marketing course that will teach you everything you need to know to drive business success. 

With DMI’s certified online Social Media Marketing course you will gain a deep understanding of the social platforms that matter including Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube and TikTok along with social research, social strategy and content development. Get started today to set your business on the right track.

First published June 2018, Updated October 2021

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