Small businesses are always looking for ways to reach out to potential customers. Conventionally, they rely on print and electronic media to put their word out there. But high internet penetration and tech innovations over the last few decades have changed the way businesses reach out to customers.

Today, where almost half of the world's population is logged on social media, traditional marketing strategies are quickly being replaced with digital, tech-driven strategies. Social media platforms facilitate direct communication between businesses and their prospective or existing customers. This kind of interaction is advantageous to small businesses because it enables them to:

  • Properly position their brand in the minds of customers

  • Get direct feedback on how customers experience their brands

  • Understand the needs of their customers 

  • Provide timely and quality customer service

Why market on social media?

Is social media marketing necessary for businesses? A quick look at current trends, and the answer is obvious. Social media has grown in leaps and bounds over the last few years - and this is not stopping anytime soon. Statista data shows that the average global social media penetration rate currently stands at 45%
By early 2019, 3.48 billion people were on social media platforms globally, with 288 million new members joining in 2018. With more than 60% of small businesses acknowledging that social media platforms are effective marketing avenues, marketing on social media is no longer an option. It's a must for any business that wants to grow its sales and increase its profits. 

At its core, marketing on social media is about promoting a business on social media platforms.  So, if you are a small business looking to market your products on social media, here's how you can do it effectively:

Clarify your marketing goal

Before you start marketing your business on social media, establish what you want to achieve with your campaign. Lead generation, customer engagement, and brand awareness are the top reasons why most businesses turn to social media. But you don't need to have the same goals. Be open to craft a specific marketing goal based on your business needs.  

According to Statista, increased exposure, improved traffic, lead generation, and fan loyalty, are some of the major reasons businesses opt for social media marketing. Although social media can be used to achieve all of this, you need to be clear on what exactly your goal is and channelize your efforts in the right direction to get the desired results. Examples of goals that you could pursue in your social media marketing efforts could include to increase the number of social media followers, increase the number of brand mentions on social media or increase the number of likes.
 

The idea is to view social media marketing like any other marketing strategy in your business and avoid posting content without a purpose. Just like you would not run a print or TV ad without first determining what you want to achieve, the same logic applies to social media marketing.

Whatever goal you choose to pursue, define it clearly as this will make it easy for you to generate content for your posts. 

Understand your target audience 

There are numerous social media platforms today, but that does not mean you need to create profiles on all of them. Statistics show that most businesses prefer to run marketing campaigns on Facebook. There is a good reason for this – by the end of 2018, the platform had  2.32 billion active monthly users.

However, less than 50% of small businesses in the US use Youtube, Instagram, and Twitter for marketing. Further, less than 33% of business owners use Snapchat and LinkedIn, as indicated in the figure below: 

Source: Clutch Co

The key to determining the right social media platform to market your products or provide customer service is to understand your target audience. For instance, if your business targets Generation Z buyers, then you are better off using Snapchat. If you are a B2B company, then LinkedIn is your sure bet for marketing. Customer service statistics show that B2B brands generate up to 80% of their leads through LinkedIn. 

But how do you know who is exactly your target audience? You need to have a correct approach towards customer understanding, which can come if you have a tool to assist you in analyzing customer behavior. 

Rather than relying on hunches, you should use tools like Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Customer Data Platform (CDP), or Data Management Platform (DMP). 

A tool like Data Management Platform (DMP) can work wonders. It gathers data from multiple sources. After collecting, it classifies and segments the data, which makes it easy for marketers to target their customers. The tool helps you gather generic data like the time when a visitor came on your website, and the time they spent on your web pages. It clearly shows the activities of your customers, which helps you understand their intentions. 

Once you know what your customers want and where they spend their time, you can use this knowledge to market your products accordingly. 

 3. Provide value for your customers

Your social media marketing efforts can only be successful if your business has many followers viewing the content that you post. To get people following your brand, you need to provide them real value – give them a reason to follow you.
 

Generally, people will follow your brand because they are interested in your products or services or because you promote your customer service in that space. But a significant number of your followers will also be looking out for entertaining content, promotions, incentives, or seeking customer support as reflected in the graph below: 

Source: Sproutsocial

Build your following by sharing informative content that brings value to your customers. Some of the strategies you could use to keep your content worth following include promoting flash sales (offering discounts on limited products for a short period of time), running contests, sharing blog posts, and offering discounts. However, do this with moderation – avoid posting too many promotions as they could disturb people and cause them to unfollow you.
 

Sharing valuable content does not mean creating it from scratch – you can repurpose your existing material as well. Check what you have on your site, customer support knowledge base, or other online documentation sources. 

Knowledge base or online documentation is basically a cloud-based information center that has data about your products and services. It can be used by your support staff as well as customers to get answers to any questions they have.

Cull out useful and relevant information from your online documents and share it with your audience.

Sharing useful content with your followers increases the chances of converting them into your customers, as people are likely to purchase from the brands they follow. 

Use visual content

People tend to share visual content on social media more often than any other content types. Visual content includes videos, infographics, and images. Statistics show that:

  • 62% of marketers say videos are highly effective in content marketing 

  • Infographics increase web traffic by 12%

  • Tweets that carry images get up to 150% more retweets compared to those that don't
     

This kind of content will take time to generate, so utilize what you already have on your self-service platform. Besides pre-recorded videos, consider using live broadcasts on platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube that have this option.

 Live streaming can improve your engagement metrics and allow you to develop authentic relationships with your audience. On Facebook, live-streamed videos generate up to 10 times more comments than those that are not live, and people spend three times more time viewing them than non-live ones.

There are several ways you can use your live streams. For instance, you can:

  • Give your followers a behind-the-scenes view of your office or production facility

  • Demonstrate how a new product works 

  • Host a Q&A session to promote your customer service 

  • Host a live event for your followers
     

Share content frequently

To keep following your brand, your followers will have to see fresh content from your account regularly. This means that once you've determined which social media platform to use, you need to be constantly active to keep your followers interested. But, remember not to overdo it. Too much of anything can be disastrous. 

Neil Patel says, "If you post too infrequently, your audience will forget that you exist and you will quickly fade into the deep dark recesses of their minds. However, if you are posting too often, you will become a complete nuisance, and they will dread seeing your posts overcrowding their feed."

You need to maintain a balance when it comes to sharing posts on social media. Since all social media platforms work differently, you should have a separate approach for each one of them. 

For instance, for B2B businesses, posting three times a week on LinkedIn works great. 

Getting followers on Instagram is challenging. It takes around six months for a firm to get a decent following. For a platform like Instagram, the general rule is to post quality content with the right hashtags to increase engagement. But you need to be a little cautious here as irrelevant boomerangs, and poor quality images can urge users to unfollow you. 

Also, timing is another factor that you need to keep in mind. Posting at a suitable time can attract more eyeballs, helping you reach a wider audience. You need to understand when your audience is hungriest for information and accordingly deliver them quality content, to enhance engagement. 

  • For Facebook, the best time to post is on weekdays from 9 a.m to 3 p.m, while for Instagram, the best time is from Tuesday to Friday between 10 a.m to 3 p.m.
  • Monday to Friday from 8 a.m to 4 p.m is the safest to post on Twitter and for LinkedIn, the ideal time is Tuesday to Friday between 8 a.m to 2 p.m. 

Posting new and quality content on time keeps your brand on top of your customers' minds and prevents them from forgetting you. 

Further, ensure that you respond to comments posted by your customers on your social media pages, as this is likely to prompt them to purchase.

brand actions to make people to purchase

Source: Sproutsocial

Key takeaway

Social media marketing presents a huge opportunity for businesses. Indulging in direct interaction with customers enables you to build brand loyalty, provide customer support, generate leads, increase sales, and delight your clients. 

To achieve these results, you need to strategize your social media marketing campaigns. Though this form of marketing may look like an uphill task, executing the five points discussed above can help you get started and increase your chances of success.