If you’re like nearly every other small business owner I’ve talked to, you know that social media marketing should be a part of your online marketing strategy, but you aren’t exactly sure where to go from there.
Maybe you aren’t even sure what “social media marketing” means. And that’s ok! You’re not alone and most importantly, you’ve come to the right place for help. In this article, I’ll show you how to use social media to support your business goals.
I won’t lie — social media marketing can be overwhelming and complicated at first, but it doesn’t have to be. Really. And I promise you this: You can do this. You can use social media to grow your business, reach more people, and achieve your business goals. So why wouldn’t you?
Let’s dive in and see what it takes to grow a business through social media marketing!
But first, for those of you who are on the fence about whether social media is worth it or not…
Do I need to use social media marketing for my business?
In short, yes, you should be using social media marketing if you want your business to thrive and grow. There are very few exceptions, but for the most part, every small business can benefit from some sort of social media presence.
Those benefits vary depending on your type of business and your goals with social media, but overall, you can expect to generate awareness, increase customer engagement, and make sales for your business that you wouldn’t have gotten otherwise.
The #1 reason your business should engage in social media marketing
Social media is where your customers are. After all, you’ve got to meet them where they’re at, otherwise, you risk spending time and energy marketing to no one in particular. And these days, over 79% of Americans have a social media profile.
But social media is only one piece of the whole online marketing mix. Let’s take a look at where it fits into your goals.
Social media’s role in your small business marketing strategy
As we lay out in our free online marketing guide, The Download, your online marketing should revolve around accomplishing four things with your audience:
- Connect. Get people to your door or your website.
- Experience. Provide a positive experience that delights your customers.
- Entice. Get people to stay in touch with you by following your social channels, or joining your email list.
- Engage. Once people have opted to connect with you, your job is to engage them positively and regularly. This keeps you top-of-mind and helps create loyal repeat customers.
Social media marketing plays a key role in all of these things. It allows you to connect with new customers (and prospective customers), engage existing customers, entice them to further connect with you by subscribing to your email list, and provide a positive experience through great online customer service.
Get our free online marketing guide for email, social media, websites, and more
If you want to learn more about the bigger picture of your online marketing strategy, I recommend checking out The Download, our free online marketing guide.
We developed this guide because we want you to succeed. It’s designed to help you gain a clear understanding of how people find you online and how to have a strong online marketing foundation in place, based on five key elements:
- A mobile-friendly website
- An email marketing strategy
- A primary social channel
- Up-to-date business listings
- A way to easily create content
With our guide, you’ll learn how all of these things come together to serve your business goals. In addition to the general guide, we’ve worked with industry experts to create guides for specific areas, including nonprofit, retail, real estate, and more. So check out our online marketing strategy guides and get the version of The Download that’s the best fit for you!
And now without further adieu, let’s talk about the basics of social media marketing.
How to get started with social media marketing in 4 steps
In truth, finding success with social media marketing requires a bit of experimentation. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all social media strategy that will work for every type of business. But that said, there are some common best practices for getting started with using social media to market your business.
Let’s keep it simple. Here’s your quick guide to getting started with social media marketing in four steps:
1. Reserve your business name on all important social channels ASAP
Now don’t worry — you’re not going to need to actively post on every social media platform. In fact, we recommend starting your social media strategy with just one primary social media platform, but you should reserve your business name on all of them
Like I said before, social media involves experimentation and your strategy could change later depending on what you learn. For example, maybe you’re not going to start with Instagram, but in the future, that might change. If you reserve your business name now on Instagram, you won’t need to worry about it being unavailable if you decide to use it in the future. Not only that, but if a prospective customer does decide to search for your business on Instagram, hopefully, they’ll find your profile with a link to your website, even if you aren’t actively posting content there.
At a minimum, you should reserve your business name on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
2. Choose one primary social media channel to start with
Starting with just one social media channel for your marketing helps you avoid becoming overwhelmed and gives you one place to experiment and learn before branching off into more platforms.
You’ll want to choose your primary social media channel based on your business type, your goals, and where you’re most likely to find your customers and prospective customers. For example, if your business is primarily B2B (business-to-business), you might want to prioritize LinkedIn. If you are a fashion retailer with a highly visual lifestyle brand, Instagram might be the best place to showcase your company.
For help differentiating between the different social media platforms and choosing the one that’s best for you, check out our handy infographic on the best social media platforms for business.
3. Set clear business goals for this social media channel
You’re most likely to find success in your social media marketing if your goals are clear and measurable. Your goals are also what will inform your strategy in step four. Choose three or fewer primary social media goals to start with, based on your overall business goals.
Take a look at these examples of social media marketing goals that span three major categories: Awareness, customer service, and driving action:
- Increase awareness of a particular product or service you offer
- Let people know about discounts and special offers
- Inform people of upcoming events and opportunities
Customer service goals
- Respond quickly to questions from potential customers
- Provide rapid support to existing customers
Driving action goals
- Drive sales by sharing upcoming offers
- Send people to your website to get more information
- Get people to sign up for your email list.
4. Develop and execute your social media marketing strategy
Once you have thought about your goals for social media marketing, you’re ready to try out a strategy to achieve them. Don’t be intimidated by this step. By “strategy,” I’m talking about a basic plan that includes:
- Who your primary audience is. What type of people are you trying to reach and how are you aiming to appeal to them?
- Where you’re going to connect with your audience. This is mostly about choosing which social platform(s) you’ll post on.
- What content you’re going to share with your audience. Aim to diversify your content and to choose
- When and how often you’re going to post. How often you share posts will vary depending on the platform you choose, but you’ll want to share on a regular basis and at a time where your audience is online.
- How you’ll be posting. Will you post directly on the individual social media platforms or will you use social media tools to make managing your social media marketing easier?
TIP: Check out some additional guidelines on how to develop a social media marketing strategy.
Next: Experiment, measure success, and revise your strategy
Remember — you’re going to want to experiment and use what you learn to continuously improve your social media marketing strategy. If you don’t succeed at meeting your goals immediately, keep going! Shift an element of your strategy and see if anything changes.
Perhaps you need to go back to the drawing board and choose a new primary audience. Or maybe the audience is right, but you’re trying to reach them on the wrong platform. You won’t know until you try so don’t be afraid to keep experimenting!
So now that you know the basics, why not get started? Download our online marketing guide today and start your social media marketing experiment.
FAQ’s and additional resources
It’s normal for people getting started with social media for business to have a lot of questions. The best way to learn social media marketing is by doing it, but let me try to give you a head start by answering some of our most common social media marketing questions. I’ll also include some links to additional resources for you to use while you’re getting started.
Help! I don’t know what content to share on social media
When in doubt, think about your audience. What do they like? What kinds of things are they engaging with on social media? Once you have that in mind, think about what you can share that has a similar appeal or value.
For example, if you are a yoga business and your audience likes yoga tips, share some quick yoga tips. If you are a doctor and your audience is looking to you for guidance on personal health, consider sharing some quick tips for staying healthy during flu season. You get the idea.
And if you’re still stuck, fear not. Just check out these social media content ideas.
How do I measure the success of my social media posts?
Well, this will depend on your goals and which platform you’re using, but generally social media performance is measured by:
- Reach – The total number of people who see your content
- Impressions – The number of times your content was displayed
- Engagements – The number of times someone clicked on, liked, commented on, or engaged with your content.
- Conversions – The number of times someone saw your content and then completed a desired action (like making a purchase or signing up for your email list)
To learn more about these measurements, how to see them, and use them to inform your social media strategy, check out our guide on how to measure social media performance.
What’s the difference between paid social media versus organic social media? Do I need to pay to be successful?
You might have heard that social media is becoming increasingly “pay-to-play,” meaning that your posts won’t get seen unless you pay to boost them. This is mostly true. While you will be able to achieve some level of reach without paying, you’ll greatly increase your reach (the number of people who see your content) if you pay. Luckily, you don’t need to have a huge budget to get started with paid social media, so you can experiment with a low sum of money to try it out.
For more info, read our post on paid social media options for your business.
What is the best day and time to post on social media?
Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this. The best time to post will vary based on your audience’s preferences, the platform you’re using, and more. Luckily, you’ll be able to figure out the best days and times for you to post relatively easily using social media insights.
Experiment with different days and times when posting, then use your social media metrics to see what days and times tend to achieve the highest numbers for reach, impressions, and engagements.
Are hashtags important? How should I approach using them in my posts?
Hashtags are how people find new content related to a subject they are already interested in. For example, if I am looking at a post with the hashtag “#Fitness”, when I click on that hashtag, I’ll be shown all the other public posts using the same hashtag. Maybe I’ll see a post from a local gym and be inspired to check it out and become a customer.
That’s why using hashtags — the right hashtags, that is — matters. You’ll want to make sure you are doing hashtag research to see what hashtags are popular that you can take advantage of to get more eyes on your posts.