The role of social media for small business owners in 2021

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Coming up with a marketing strategy for a pandemic wasn't in anybody's agenda last year. And yet here we are constantly adjusting and innovating to stay at the top of our game despite the effects of COVID. 

Those who were quick enough recognised one prominent channel that could withstand the effects of lockdowns and physical distancing while keeping in touch with their customers. That channel is social media. 

In 2020, it was imperative for businesses to rethink their social media marketing strategies in the perspective of current events. Whatever content had been planned out for the year needed to be scrapped in exchange for empathy-focused efforts. And it was because people wanted to receive support through the ads they would see. 

Data from Impact from 2020 showed that 37% of customers said that they want advertising to make them feel safe and give them a sense of normality. Another 31% said they wanted to see ads that made them feel positive.

While it’s a slow crawl to the life we once knew, digital marketing remains a vital cog in ensuring the success of a small business. And with personalised content being one of the hottest marketing trends of the year, it gives brands a chance to create dynamic, organic content that’s relatable. The goal is to let viewers feel that whatever they were reading, listening to, or watching was made specifically for them. This is achievable on social media and its flexible content forms. 

As businesses across the world continue to cope, social media has the power to bridge the distance between brands and their customers in more ways than one. But how do you ensure that you use it intelligently and effectively to achieve success?  

Why social media?

Social media has matured beyond being just a content broadcasting medium. Today, it’s about sharing experiences, engaging audiences, and building trust. But it is a mainstay in the strategies of every modern day marketer for many reasons.

On social media, creativity shines through. When brands can make relevant and impactful content accessible, it kickstarts a relationship with their target customers. Sure, it’s easier said than done. But working to build a strong social media presence will give you an edge over your competitors, because you will be more visible. After all, over 3.6 billion people were using social media worldwide in 2020, a number projected to increase to almost 4.41 billion in the next five years.

It’s also a great way for you to create buzz about your business at generally inexpensive costs. There are a number of ways to promote without having to spend thousands on advertising. You can start or join conversations on forums, create launch videos for your product or services, or announce limited-time offerings. 

The importance of branding

The way audiences recognise your brand will set the tone for the leads you will generate and the sales you’ll convert. To ensure you’ll be remembered on social media, you first need to establish your brand’s identity. 

Online branding considers two elements. 

First, it’s the things that shape your brand identity. Your name, logo, colours and fonts, and tagline are all important in establishing recall. You want these to be visible in everything you publish online, tying in with what is on your website, social media, and other materials. 

Branding is also about the emotional connection you’re able to nurture with your customers. The digital space offers a variety of ways to get your brand out to the world, but without a distinct character, you won’t make any impact.

What you say and how you say it is going to speak to people about your expertise, your level of knowledge, and the trust people will develop through it. 

5 strategies to employ to capitalise on social media

There are several ways to capitalise on social media in order to reach your target market. To ensure you stay a cut above what your competition is doing, include these strategies in your marketing mix this year. 

1. Diversify in terms of where you post 

Some business owners think that having a page on Facebook or Twitter is enough to establish a strong presence. But paying little attention to managing it the right way is a waste of its potential. 

Diversifying where you post means exploring different channels to build your audience. Each social networking site has its own unique characteristics, and people use it to see a variety of content forms.

For example, Instagram posts are mostly visual with less scope for text. Twitter is ideal for short and sweet announcements. But you can create more detailed write-ups and pair them with visuals on Facebook. 

It's not about how many pages you have on different websites. But it's about making sure you use every means possible to reach the people you need to grow your brand.

2. Social media audit

A social media audit is a review of your metrics to assess growth, opportunities, and areas of improvement. 

There are three main social media metrics: reach, engagement, and conversion. For any type of metric being measured, you need to include the percentage change from the previous month or year. 

A social media audit takes a closer look at the content rollout and how well it performs after publishing. It also considers the time of publishing and how it affects engagement. There are templates available online to ease the work of auditing, but it’s an absolute must to practice this so you can constantly improve and evolve your online efforts.

3. Hashtag research

Hashtags are a powerful social media tool that helps users find specific types of posts. It functions as a label that groups content of the same topic on a social media platform. 

By researching hashtags that are trending, relevant to your industry, and easily memorable, you can increase the visibility of your posts

An effective hashtag campaign lets you market yourself easier without the hard sell approach. Instead, you will be found through your content.  

4. Competitor research

A social media strategy will never be complete without a thorough competitor analysis. Knowing who they are and what they sell isn't enough to beat them. You need to understand their methods, the activities they develop, and their approach to managing their different platforms.

Knowing what's happening in the market will let you look beyond your present and build a picture of your future. These insights are important for you to make well-informed decisions for the growth of your brand. 

5. Frequency in posting

Achieving the right frequency in posting requires an understanding of how each platform works. If you don't maintain an active presence online, customers are more likely to look elsewhere for products or services. But posting too often will leave them overwhelmed and may result in negative engagement. 

To find the right balance, consider these tips for each platform: 

Facebook

Users see more content from their friends or family than from brands. But the answer to being visible isn’t increasing the number of times you post in a day. 

Facebook's algorithm prefers frequent posting throughout the week. If you post more than twice in 24 hours, it actually lowers organic reach. That's why experts recommend sticking to one post per day or five posts per week. 

Twitter

The average lifetime of a tweet is between 15-20 minutes. After this, your followers' would have received enough new posts to sit above yours. A study by Social Bakers found that engagement starts to drop after the third tweet. That's why it's key to send between one and five tweets per day only. 

Instagram

Experienced markets know Instagram for its ever-evolving algorithm. Because it changes often, many small businesses get intimidated by the battle for attention on this platform.

More than post frequency, consistency matters more for business pages on Instagram. To keep your followers engaged, use a certain posting pattern. The algorithm will learn this and see that you are keeping your page active by posting regularly. This will be rewarded and your posts will be shown to more people. 

LinkedIn

LinkedIn recommends sharing 20 posts per month. But the most important thing to remember with LinkedIn isn't how often you're posting but the type of content you are sharing. 

As a professional networking site, what you post should be relevant to your industry and business. Your content should educate your audience. If you can do this well, the engagement will follow, and you’ll build new connections. 

Social media will play a pivotal role for the success of small businesses in 2021. As such, you need to ensure that you have an effective, well-researched strategy in place. Building your presence online will make your brand more accessible and personable, generating new opportunities for growth even amid the pandemic. 

If you want to learn more about how you can drive your sales and grow your business, contact us


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