Yes, of course, social media and the online marketplace have made it easier for small businesses to advertise, as they don’t end up spending serious money on huge swaths of people who are not in any way interested in their products.
It has, however, also made it harder. For one thing, the field has become a lot more complicated as there are so many options to consider. For another, the marketplace is changing rapidly with new forms of advertising constantly emerging, while older methods become less useful.
That means it’s important that you have a good idea of what’s going on. To that end, we’ve compiled some of the key points to be aware of if you’re trying to use social media to reach your audience.
Understand your audience
It’s obvious, really. And yet it is absolutely vital. Much like the stoic philosopher Senace said, “If one does not know what port one is sailing, no wind is favorable,” – if you don’t know who your audience is, it doesn’t matter what tools and apps you have in place.
So, the first step is to define your target audience. Take your typical customers.
• Are they male or female?
• What age are they? Are they Millenials, Gen Xers or baby boomers?
• Where are they?
• What is their educational level?
• What do they do to make money?
• What do they enjoy?
• How much disposable income do they have?
Figure out what platforms they’re on and join them
Armed with your audience profile you can find out where your audience is likely to be. Different social media platforms have unique demographics. Check out this social media cheat sheet to get an initial grounding. Select the ones that seem most appropriate and join these networks. Note that you shouldn’t just join all of them as each additional network will mean that you’ll have to invest more time and that is exactly where you fall short as a small business.
So don’t go overboard
Particularly because if you do there is an ever greater likelihood that information across the different networks will end up inaccurate, out of data and conflicting. And that is a surefire way to negatively affect customers, how trustworthy they think you are and the likelihood that they will (or rather won’t) purchase your product.
Set out a plan
Social media can be incredibly time-consuming. The best way to avoid that is to set out a clear plan of attack. This means that you decide what it is that you actually want your social media to do for your business. Yes, obviously you want to sell more of your product, but there can be sub-goals to get you there, such as:
• Raise brand awareness
• Find influencers
• Provide customer service
Then work towards achieving those goals. This does not mean that you become robotic in how you use social media. There will be a period of discovery as you find out the best way that you can achieve this. It does, however, mean that you keep in mind what it is you’re trying to do and that you make certain that what you’re actually doing contributes to that and abandoning activities that don’t.
Engage with influencers
Not all people are made equally. Some people are very good at attracting huge numbers of followers and influencing people and their opinion. In the industry, these are referred to as ‘social influencers’. Make certain that you’re always keeping an eye out for these individuals and when they do engage with you and your brand, that you engage with them in return (obviously, you should always engage with people who reach out to you, but make an extra effort when these people do so).
When these people promote your content, be willing to share their comments and ideas far and wide, while making certain that you link back to them. Social influencer’s value depends on how big their following is. They know this as well as you do. Therefore, they’ll appreciate it if you take the effort to help them boost their networks and will hopefully repay you by saying more nice things to their network about you in the future.
Be steady and patient
Social media takes time. A lot of people don’t realize how much. So, when you start off your campaign be aware that it might take a while to start paying. For this reason, make sure you do two things.
First of all, go the distance.
Secondly, set a manageable pace. We do not sprint a marathon. To try to do so will make the rest of the race impossible to run. So set a pace that you can actually keep doing for the foreseeable future.
And if it still turns out to be too intense, don’t be afraid to tone it down a little bit. People talk a lot about how much you should post. There isn’t really any hard science about this. What does matter, however, is that you’re consistent. This is how you build expectation and a connection with your audience and your customers. The moment you stop posting, however, they start drifting away. It’s vital that that doesn’t happen as that renders all your hard work pointless.
Good luck and good hunting!