As a small business owner, you’re always looking for ways to grow your business. You know how to price your products competitively while still generating a profit. You know that special promotions such as flyers, TV ads, and signage are generally reliable for bringing in a few new customers. You know what works for you, and you’re confident that these practices will continue to propel your business in the future.
But are you using social media to further increase your brand awareness? If so, great! If not, why not? It may seem like a small thing in the big picture, but the reality is stark. The future of your business could depend on how well you can adapt to changing technology.
What Is Social Media?
Let’s go back to the basics. Social media is any means of electronic communication, such as a website or application, through which users build online communities to share and exchange information, ideas, personal messages, and other content.
Who Uses Social Media?
The short answer: practically everyone. Facebook is by far the most popular social network, with 2.45 billion monthly active users (MAUs). YouTube users number at 2 billion each month, while Instagram boasts 1 billion MAUs. Twitter (330 million MAUs) and LinkedIn (260 million MAUs) round out the list of the top social networks in use throughout the world.
Why Does Your Business Need Social Media?
Your business can benefit greatly from the connection between brand and customer that only social media can make. Similarly, social media can increase your overall brand awareness, which can boost leads and ultimately generate more sales.
What Is Brand Awareness?
Simply put, brand awareness is the extent to which someone can recall or recognize your brand. Over time, Kleenex and Band-Aids have become so associated with the products they represent that it’s easy to forget they’re actually trademarked names. The ultimate goal of brand awareness is for your business or products to become a “household name” for your customers. Specifically, you want your business to be the first name they think of when they’re seeking the services you provide.
Is Social Media Marketing Effective?
Much more than you might think, actually. Studies have shown that 71% of consumers who have a positive experience with a brand on social media are likely to recommend that brand to friends and family. In addition, 74% of potential customers say they’re more likely to trust a business with positive reviews on social media. It’s been said, and rightly so, that social media is the new “word of mouth.”
Is Social Media Marketing Affordable?
You may be wondering whether you can afford to market your small business on social media with a limited budget. The truth is that you can’t afford not to! If you’re willing to invest a little time and effort, that’s really all it takes – and the payoff can be amazing! You don’t have to use paid advertising to get results, though it can improve your chances of a successful marketing campaign.
How Can You Use Social Media to Increase Brand Awareness for Your Business?
Now that you understand a bit more about social media and what it can do for your business, how do you put this knowledge into practice? Here are 7 practical ideas to get you started:
IMAGE IS EVERYTHING
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. When it comes to social media, this is especially true. Users will instantly stop scrolling when something catches their eye, and a compelling picture or illustration will cause them to do just that. Be sure the image you choose offers a snapshot of what the post is about. Also, make certain you have permission to use the image. A quick Google search will lead you to more than a few websites where you can source images for free. If you have the ability to shoot and post your own video – perhaps a how-to, tutorial, product demonstration, or live “Q & A” session – even better! Infographics also resonate well on social media – design your own or find one that clearly addresses the subject of your post (and tag the original source). Infographics that provide helpful or insightful information are more likely to be shared than a huge block of text. Nobody wants to read a thousand words, anyway!
There’s nothing more tedious than a business that inundates their followers with post after post proclaiming the superiority of their brand, products, or services. Aggressive sales pitch posts? Even worse! Social media users want to be entertained and engaged, not simply informed. Tell a story that piques their interest, then find a way to subtly tie it in to your brand. Don’t be afraid to add a dash of humor now and then. Some of the most-followed brands on social media are those that regularly inject their marketing with mirth. Another great way to keep your audience engaged is to actively listen and respond to their opinions, comments, and critiques – both the positive and the negative! You just might learn a thing or two about your own business! Encourage users to share your content and you’ll not only reach your followers, but their network as well.
SPEAK THEIR LANGUAGE
Social media users have short attention spans. You only have a few seconds to grab their attention. If your content isn’t fresh, valuable, or relevant to their interests, the chance of reaching followers with your message is greatly diminished. Focus on topics that are closely related to your particular field. Chances are, that’s why they’re following you in the first place! Use emojis, hashtags, and other popular text language to show your target audience you’re in touch with how they communicate. Finally, draw your audience in by letting them interact with you. Ask a question that generates responses in the comments. “Question posts” are much more likely to get shared, which also serves to increase your reach.
GIVE STUFF AWAY
This may not immediately strike you as an intelligent way to grow your small business, but it actually makes a lot of sense. People love getting something for nothing, so use that to your advantage. Create a contest for the best idea about X, Y, or Z, with the grand prize being a gift card to your business or perhaps a free product. Encourage followers to share the contest post with others, and maybe even offer bonus entries for each share. The more people see the post, the more you’ll have people talking about your business – and that’s never a bad thing! Consider initiating a referral program where you offer something for free to followers who refer a new customer to you. Any way you look at it, that’s a win-win situation!
MIX IT UP A BIT
While keeping a consistent brand voice across the board is key, it’s perfectly acceptable – and highly recommended! – to use a different tone depending on which social media platform you’re utilizing. On Facebook, you might post interactive content that’s more likely to get likes and shares (which is how you get the most eyes on your post). Twitter posts are short and snappy, and it may serve you best to adapt a more playful tone there. Instagram is image-driven, so you’ll probably want to reserve your strongest visuals for that platform. LinkedIn tends to be more serious and therefore might be an ideal landing spot for your more informative blog posts. As easy as it might be to copy and paste the same message across all your platforms, resist the urge! Each social media site should carry its own unique message along with the relevant info that you’re sharing.
STALK THE COMPETITION
Keep an eye on the social media accounts of your direct competitors. What kind of marketing campaigns are they attempting? What seems to be performing well for them? What appears to be falling flat? Learn from their successes and their mistakes, come up with your own strategies and solutions, and put them into action.
TRACK YOUR PROGRESS
Most social media platforms – Facebook Page Insights, for example – offer solid feedback on the number of likes, shares, and comments your content has generated. You can delve in even deeper by using web analytics programs to see which platforms are providing the most referral traffic. Pinpoint what’s working and what isn’t, and adapt your methods accordingly as you continue to optimize your approach.
These are just a few of the ways you can use social media to your business’s advantage. Identifying your target audience will help you determine which platforms to use to promote your brand. You don’t need to have a presence on all the major social networking sites, just the ones that make sense for your customers and their online habits. Define your social media goals, identify the various types of content you’ll produce, and determine how you’ll measure your success. With these tools at your disposal, you’ll be well-equipped to take your business to the next level!
If you’re curious to learn more and get started, HighClick Media is here to help. Reach out to us and one of our campaign experts will contact you to chat about your marketing goals. We’ll work hand in hand with your small business to design the perfect strategy that will make your marketing efforts a success! Call us today at 252.814.2150!