In a world of tagging, reviews, and online shopping, a business's social media presence matters. 92% of Instagram users say that after seeing a product or service that piqued their interest, they've either followed that brand, clicked their website, or made a purchase. Social media is a powerful tool for small businesses to build brand awareness and spread the word about their services, and it's a necessity to stay relevant in a world dominated by e-commerce powerhouses.
Online shopping has boomed in the last few years, largely due to the wide range of available products, instant gratification (What can we say? Same-day drop-shipping is hard to pass up!), and the acceleration of existing trends by the COVID-19 pandemic. The convenience of same-day and next-day delivery has positively changed the game for the consumer, but small businesses continue to bear the brunt of growing their e-commerce sales channels.
However, supporting "the little guy" has gained momentum in the last couple of years, primarily due to initiatives like the Small Business Administration's (SBA) National Small Business Week and American Express' upcoming Small Business Saturday, a counterpart to Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The harsh effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on small businesses also raised awareness and acute concern for local companies.
Small-scale businesses are seeing success by utilizing digital marketing through social media to reach the community and build awareness of their brand. Read on to learn how small business owners can leverage their own social media channels.
1. Be Found
First things first, it's imperative that consumers be able to find your business online. This doesn't mean you need to create an account with every social platform, but at minimum, be sure you can be found on Facebook. Consumers often use Facebook to check a company's hours of operation or even their reviews.
Creating a business page on Facebook can allow you to track insights like certain demographics that may be helpful for marketing to your consumers. You'll also have the opportunity to set up advertising campaigns to target audiences.
Instagram is a solid second choice for businesses if you plan on posting content regularly. Instagram is a great visual platform for local shops to showcase their services, humanize their brand, and connect with their consumers. Regardless of what industry your business is in, think about the amount of time you'd be able to dedicate to your online presence. If posting images daily or 3-4 times a week seems doable, you may consider Instagram.
2. Stay Relevant
Post frequency is important to staying relevant and growing your audience, but social media marketing can easily feel like a full-time job for business owners. If you don't have the bandwidth for creating a full-fledged social media content calendar, consider outsourcing or, at minimum, aim to post on your platform once per week. Fill your feed with company updates, images of your products, and even spotlights of your workers. Think about who your audience is, the kind of content they'd want to see, and the ways you can strengthen the relationship they have with your brand.
Use social media strategically. There's a lot of digital noise out there, so give consumers a reason to follow you. Consider posting "social-only" content -- information customers can only get from seeing your social posts. That will drive consumers to your page and encourage them to follow you. Consumers may follow you on social media because they like your brand, but giving them an incentive to do so by holding a social media giveaway or offering deals is a great way to expand your audience and build brand awareness.
3. Update Your Info
The last thing you'll want is for your page to be visible but with outdated information. Be sure your information, including phone number, address, website, and hours of operation, are all up to date. Include a short description of the services your business provides in your bio. Keep in mind that your social presence is an extension of your brand; it largely impacts your brand's image.
Customer Service – The days of picking up a phone to get information are over. Online search is the default first stop in the hunt for customer service, and many people are now more comfortable with online chat for customer support than they are with traditional phone support. If online customer support isn't in your business strategy, make sure that contact information for questions is visible.
4. Market Yourself
A little promotion can go a long way. Consider making your social handles visible somewhere near the checkout counter or on your website. Include those social media handles on business cards or bags that consumers will see after a purchase. Encourage customers to post pictures of their purchases and tag your company on social media. You can even offer a giveaway campaign for those that do.
Using social media effectively can be a powerful tool for small businesses to stand out and spread the word about their company. The push for shopping small and supporting local businesses is growing, and consumers understand the impact shopping locally has on their community. That's why they've not only made purchases, but they're spreading the word digitally. Consumers are viewing your brand on social media, sharing your content, and tagging their friends.
Don't underestimate the power of digital word-of-mouth marketing. Try optimizing your social media platforms in time for Small Business Saturday on Nov. 27. Make your digital presence known so that consumers think of your business when they start thinking big about shopping small.