Did you know that 8 out of 10 people in the US have a social media profile? Chances are your customers have a profile on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and/or LinkedIn. Using social media marketing for small business is a way to connect with your customers, talk about products and services, and display your business information. It can help you bring in leads and provide a positive customer service experience. In today’s online world, using social media is one of the key tactics to take your digital presence to the next level.

Video is a powerful tool on social media for small businesses.

But as many small business owners have discovered, social media marketing for small business isn’t the same as posting on a personal profile. In fact, 93% of small business owners struggle with social media. Some of the most common challenges include:

  • building an audience
  • getting follower likes, comments, and shares on their posts
  • posting consistently
  • creating content to post on social media
  • generating high quality leads

With many new and emerging social media platforms (like TikTok and Clubhouse) entering the market regularly, social media for small business can quickly feel overwhelming.

Having a plan in place can help small business owners use social media to their advantage. To understand how social media can work for you and your business, let’s go over some of the basics, including how to create a social media strategy and manage your social media accounts.

Social media marketing basics

Social media marketing for business usually comes in two specific areas: social media management and social media advertising.

Social media management refers to creating content, posting it, and interacting with your followers. It may also mean providing customer service or answering comments. Managing social media profiles also means looking at your performance to see if your audience is growing and how people are responding to and interacting with the content you post.

Social media advertising is also known as paid social. This is the tactic of putting money behind your posts or creating ads on the platform. Paid social allows you to reach additional audiences outside of those who follow your page and inserts your paid posts into the social feed of users based on the targeting criteria you select.

Small business owner takes a photo of merchandise for social media.

How social media works for small businesses

According to Sprout Social, people are 57% more likely to buy from a brand they follow on social media. Additionally, if you can help them have a positive experience with your brand on social media, they are 71% more likely to make a purchase.

As a small business owner, you know how important your reputation is in the community. It matters online too. Being active on social media allows you to manage customer issues in a fast and timely manner, which can help protect your small business’s reputation in the long run. Positive reviews and interactions on your social media profiles can give you an edge over your competitors.

Social media is a critical tool for connecting with your target audience, building customer loyalty and providing customer service support. To deliver the kinds of experiences on social media your customers want, you need to have a social media strategy.

How to create a social media strategy

While social media is a tool that can get powerful results, posting without a plan merely adds to the ‘noise’ online and can be a waste of time, resources, and effort. Instead, start by asking what your goals are for social media.

  • Are you trying to reach more customers?
  • Do you need to provide real-time customer service?
  • Do you want more sales?

Your business goals may include a mixture of all three or you may have other targets in mind. Whatever your goals are for social media, you can create a unique strategy to achieve it.

To reach more customers, you might:

  • Create engaging content that align with your industry and your target customers’ interests
  • Use video content to educate potential customers about your industry and how your products can solve their pain points
  • Leverage social media ads to reach your target audience

To give stellar customer service, your strategy might be:

  • Responding to customer comments posted on your social media account
  • Using the instant messaging tools within Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to handle customer concerns
  • Creating content to answer customer questions

To drive sales, your strategy may include:

  • Creating content that explains the benefits and value of your products and services
  • Leveraging testimonials from customers that love what you do to demonstrate social proof
  • Promoting seasonal offers and sales through paid social media advertising with a strong call to action and campaign-specific landing page

It’s also important to consider which social media platforms work best for your strategy. If you own a retail clothing business, sharing photos of cute outfits to LinkedIn probably won’t help you reach the right audience. Instagram, Pinterest, or TikTok might work better. On the flip side, if you’re small business who works strictly with other businesses, LinkedIn could be the perfect platform for you. You don’t need to be on every social media site to effectively reach your audience. Choose the platforms that are most aligned to your strategy.

The next step is to measure your success. Social media marketers often track key performance indicators (KPIs) like how many people a certain post reached and how many people liked, shared, or commented on that post. Many social media platforms offer robust analytics so you can track the metrics that matter most to you, on demand.

  • If your goal is sales, you’ll need to track how many sales are coming from social media. You may want to ask your customers how they heard about you when they make a purchase. If you have an eCommerce store, you can use UTM codes to track activity coming from social media.
  • To increase the number of people you reach, analyze and compare the reach of all the posts you share, and if you can identify a pattern in those performing best. If you know what your target audience likes, you can create more of that social media content. You may also want to track how much your page’s audience is growing.
  • If your goal is customer service, track the number of customer service cases handled as well as the average amount of time it takes to respond and solve a case. You could also track sentiment and see how people feel about your brand in general.

With your goals, strategy, and KPIs in place, you can begin to create the types of posts that will make a difference.

Share your sales and promos to social media.

Executing your social media strategy

When you have created social media content that aligns with your goals and strategy, all that’s left to do is post. You can manually post your content or save time by using a scheduling tool. Many social media platforms have scheduling as a built-in feature as well.

Ultimately, social media is about interaction—hence the “social” part of the equation. You should plan to respond to comments, questions, messages, and customer concerns to preserve your online reputation.

Lastly, measure the results of your efforts monthly to see if your strategy is working. Report on the KPIs you selected and see if the numbers are where you want them to be. If they aren’t, you may need to adjust the types of posts you’re creating or when you are posting. From there, you can tweak and test until you figure out the perfect formula for your business.

Social media and small business

Social media doesn’t have to be a struggle for small businesses. By understanding the function of social media, creating a strategy that helps you reach your business goals, and executing on that strategy, you’ll be well on your way to making social media a powerful marketing tool for your small business.

What if I’m too busy to manage social media for my small business?

That’s where a solution like Vivial comes in. Vivial offers customers both social media management and social media advertising support.

If you don’t have time to create social media content or respond to every comment, Vivial’s solution can help. They can create a consistent posting schedule for your channels and easily engage with your followers on social media, responding to any of their comments or concerns. They can also help you run effective and efficient social media ads to reach more customers and bring in more leads, delivering results for your small business.

CenturyLink and Vivial

With a CenturyLink internet connection and Vivial digital marketing solutions, your business will be ready to broaden your reach and engage with customers in new and innovative ways. Use Vivial’s expert website design, content development, video, and social media options to take your small business’s digital presence to the next level.

To get started with Vivial, call 866-476-9909 today.