Why You Should Rethink Your Social Media Strategy
Success as a business on social media requires a long-term commitment to post high-quality content daily.
Getting your brand known in a world inundated with ads, flyers, and internet blogs can be challenging for many small business owners.
Contrary to what you can often read on the web, there is no ready-made easy-to-follow formula that will increase your brand awareness and boost your sales.
Every business is different, and so should their marketing strategy. For example, companies selling well-known products or services to a broad market might extensively rely on social media for marketing. And they are generally a good fit for social media.
However, social media doesn't work for everyone. Businesses offering specialized services may not see much traction on social media regardless of how much time and money they spend. It would be better for them to rely more on search engines (Google or Bing), Google reviews, or niche aggregators such as Angi, Homeadvisor, or Thumbtack to get their name out.
In this article, I focus on small businesses that offer familiar products or services to a broad potential customer base, such as pet services, nutritionists, arts and crafts stores, bakeries, restaurants, and many others.
Social Media Is Great at Mass Marketing
Social media's sweet spot is communicating to a broad audience using cute pictures and engaging stories.
Unfortunately, social media won't be able to offer you a lot of value if your business plays in a niche that only appeals to a few people. That's why you don't see many posts from lawyers, accountants, structural engineers, electricians, or web designers.
But social media is a great choice if you want to reach the broadest possible customer base with products and services that your audience is familiar with.
Be Where Your Target Customers Are
Social media — the better term is social networking sites — can refer to many different platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, and TikTok, to name a few. They all have distinct features that attract a specific demographic. Users who are on TikTok are rarely also on Facebook. TikTok's demographic (Gen Z) differs significantly from Facebook's (Babyboomers, Millenials).
Before you decide on any of these social networking sites, I recommend defining your target audience and finding out on which site they spend the most time.
Since maintaining a social media presence is a big time commitment, choose the social networking site where you can reach the most potential customers.
Your Brand Posts, Not You
Posting on social media as a business is different from how you post your personal events.
Every single post you do as a company should be planned and follow your brand guidelines to convey an authentic and genuine image. That includes your writing (tone, style, and choice of words).
In my experience, the biggest misconception of social media is to confuse who you are as a business (your brand) with your personal You. Even if you are the face of your company, remember your brand posts, not you.
Post High-Quality Content
In today's world, everybody with a smartphone can create a post. It's relatively easy if you post personally.
However, different user expectations exist for companies. For a post to be liked, clicked on, or shared, it must deliver some value.
Posts need to be thoughtful and informative but also creative and aligned with your brand guidelines to drive engagement and increase sales. That's hard work, even for professionals.
It usually starts with developing a cohesive content strategy. Part of this strategy is to outline the content for the next few months and then define each post based on this outline.
Incorporate feedback, comments, and suggestions from your audience. Should you receive questions, answer them within a reasonable time, best on the same day. Be humble and grateful. Remember, the power lies with the users.
Show your creative side. Make your posts funny, respectful, and informative. Don't reuse the same pictures. If you use smartphone photos, have them retouched professionally. You can also incorporate images into graphic designs with stunning results.
If you want the social media presence of your business to be taken seriously, you have to post high-quality content daily. Once a week, every second week, or monthly is not enough.
Just to caution you. It takes about 2 hours to produce a high-quality post, even for professionals with ready access to stock photos and specialized software. It's a significant commitment whether you invest the time and create the posts yourself or hire this service.
Commit to the Long-Term
Social media is a phenomenal mass marketing tool.
Unfortunately, you cannot turn your business's social media posts on and off like a spigot. For example, it wouldn't be the right time to space out your activities when your audience starts engaging with your brand by sharing your posts or commenting. On the contrary, you have to keep posting. Because once you have slowed down, getting the user engagement back up can be very costly. Social media requires a long-term commitment.
Should Your Business Embrace Social Media?
In my experience, three key questions should play a role in any business-related social media decision:
Is the target audience familiar with the type of products and services you offer?
Do you need to reach the broadest possible audience to increase sales?
Are you ready to make a long-term commitment (time and money) to social media?
If you answered yes to these three questions, you probably have a high chance of being successful on social media.
However, if you answered no to questions 1 and/or 2, your business might not be the best fit for social media. It doesn't matter how hard you try or how much money you spend creating posts, your chances of success are slim. You might get a higher return on your time and money pursuing a different marketing strategy for your business. The same applies if you aren't ready to embrace social media long-term and make it a core element of your business's marketing strategy. In that case, you might want to choose less time-consuming alternatives.
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