Social media is a great tool to raise brand awareness, build trust, connect with customers, and show off your business’ unique personality. Yet in 2017, only 47% of small businesses used social media to engage their customers.
Small business and social media: the numbers
79% of Australians are on social media
59% access social media every day
47% of small business are on social media
64% of consumers are more likely to trust a brand if it interacts positively on social media
Source: 2017 Sensis Social Media Report at sensis.com.au, 8 August 2017
A lack of time and resources was the most cited reason for not using social media. But having a social media presence doesn’t have to be a burden and can be a powerful tool for growing a loyal brand following.
Here are some tips to help small businesses engage online.
Know your audience
It might sound obvious, but if you’re going to share content on social media you need to know your target audience. This is more than just knowing their age, gender, education, and income. It’s about knowing their interests, motivations, and frustrations. It’s about knowing what they want.
Have a strategy
Everything you share on social media needs a purpose. It needs to be useful to your audience (i.e. address their wants) while also furthering your business goals.
Humorous cat videos might get likes and shares, but they’re probably not the best way to promote your brand (unless you own a veterinary clinic or are a cat breeder!)
So, know what you want to achieve from every post. And keep every post relevant.
Engage, don’t sell
The 2017 Sensis Social Media Report revealed that 64% of people trusted brands that shared positive interactions with their customers. It also found that people are less likely to follow a business that shares irrelevant content, too much content, or too many advertisements.
"The takeaway: customers don’t want spam — they want authentic engagement."
For a small business, it’s about finding balance.
To help, use the 80/20 rule for creating content. Under this rule, 20 per cent of your social media activities is dedicated to promoting your brand, products, or services. This includes exclusive offers, product details, and promotions.
The other 80 per cent is dedicated to engaging your customers. This includes guides, infographics, videos, news articles, blog posts — anything that enhances your customer’s daily life.
Keeping this balance means you’re listening to your customers, answering their questions, and helping them achieve goals. If it’s appropriate, you might even entertain them.
This is where the value of social media really kicks in.
Positive engagement raises exposure. Exposure attracts leads. Leads become followers. Followers become loyal customers. Loyal customers become brand promoters. And the cycle continues…
Most small businesses don’t have time to be on all social media platforms — and you don’t need to be. You only need to be where your customers are.
Choose one or two platforms and focus your energy there. Your content will be more targeted, and you’ll avoid having to look after too many social accounts.
You don’t have to post every day, but be consistent when you do post. Use a consistent tone, language, and voice. Be authentic. Be reliable. Never let your followers think your latest post might be your last.