It is estimated that around three-quarters of American adults are active on at least one social media channel, so it stands to reason that social media should be a vital component of your business and marketing strategy.

It is one of the easiest, cheapest, and most effective ways of connecting with people who are already familiar with your brand. Or if they aren’t, it is a great way of reaching out to those who are yet to hear from you.

Despite this, many small businesses are still not using social media to its full potential. They are either rushing through it, using it purely to promote themselves, or avoiding it like the plague, believing it to be too difficult and just another chore. However, when used correctly, it can be one of the best tools in your marketing toolbox

Here, we look at some of the best social media hacks to help you drive sales, reach new markets, and build brand awareness.

Have a social media strategy in place.

Social media is so easy and inexpensive that it can be tempting to dive straight in. However, without a strategy in place, you have no real focus or goals to measure your success against. Before you post anything, sit down and build a plan to support your specific business goals.

Make sure that your set goals are SMART – specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely. Base them on metrics that will have a direct impact on your business.

Have a look at what your competitors are doing. What are they doing that works well? While we advise against copying them, looking at the success of their platforms to create ideas on how to build yours. 

If you already have a social media presence, you may want to carry out an audit of it at this point. Look at the insights provided by most channels to find out more about your followers’ behavior. If you have lots of spam or inactive followers, remove them – while high follower numbers look good, if they are not engaging with your content, this can harm your visibility.

Consider your content.

Once you have decided what you want to achieve from your social media and know which social media platforms you want to focus on, it is time to create a content calendar. As a general rule of thumb, you should aim for an 80:20 ratio – 80% sharing content from other sources, such as industry information, interviews with experts in the field, news, funny stories, and other forms of engaging content. The additional 20% should be promoting your own content and sales. Any more than that, and you can risk pushing customers away.

It is also important to remember that visual content is much more appealing to viewers. BuzzSumo found that, on average, Facebook posts that included images had 2.3x more engagement than those without. As they say – a picture says a thousand words!

The visual elements of your post need to be compelling, especially on Instagram and Pinterest, which rely on visuals. If the images are poor, people won’t stop scrolling to see what you have to say. Think about how you can tell a story through your pictures – perhaps show the company culture through behind the scenes shots, or teasers of new products to be launched in the future.

If your photography is not up to scratch and hiring a professional is out of budget, you can use stock images. Make sure you find some that are royalty-free – using random images saved from Google is a big no-no unless you want to be hit with a copyright infringement notice!

Take advantage of the reporting tools.

Most social media channels, particularly if you have a business account, have some form of reporting tools, and it is vital that you use these to your advantage. You can find a lot of useful information about your followers’ behavior and the best time to post them. If you are not available to post at those times, make use of one of the many social media scheduling tools available.

Alternatively, there’s no better way to ask what customers want to see from you than simply by asking them! Sometimes, posting content on social media can be a hit-and-miss – you may not know what your customers want. Why not send out a customer survey asking what kind of content they find appealing and engaging? The easiest way to do this is through your email marketing software (e.g. SendinBlue) This way you can better meet your customers’ needs and build a positive relationship with them. A form builder like Paperform can be useful for this, creating a responsive survey that interacts with your customers in real-time and collects insights for you – so you don’t have to.

In summary…

As you work through your social media strategy, it is important to take note of what works and what doesn’t, so you can adapt accordingly. Digital consumption changes all the time, so keep up to date and relevant, and be prepared to be flexible. Before you know it, your social media will be driving big traffic to your site.

Author Bio

Vlad Shvets is a growth marketer and content writer at Paperform. He loves writing about product marketing, technology, and workplace productivity.

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These days, it is more important than ever to invest time, effort, and resources into building an online presence for your small business. In April 2020, almost 4.57 billion people were active internet users—that’s 59% of the global population. An online presence, if executed properly, can be the difference between small business success and failure.

Many businesses mistakenly think that building a website, plugging in the lead generation forms, and having profiles on all of the social media networks is enough to maintain a decent online presence—but there’s more to it! You need to work to stay relevant to your customers and continually adapt to the times.

Here, we are going to look at some of the things that you can do to help you to build up your small business online presence from scratch.

Have a website…

This is the most important first step. Since most people are online, nowadays your business can’t afford not to have a website. Even if your small business is not an online or eCommerce business—a coffee shop or a beauty salon, for example—you still need a website as the main way to establish your online presence. Your own website allows you to provide customers with important information such as prices and opening hours, and you can begin to establish yourself as an industry expert or thought leader by publishing content through a blog.

Your website can also be used as a means to get more people through the door in your brick and mortar business. For example, you could use email automation tools (like Sendinblue, ActiveCampaign, or Outfunnel) to generate leads and build a relationship with prospective customers by sending them emails. 

…but make sure it is a good one.

While having no website is damaging for your small business, having a really bad one can be even worse. Remember that first impressions matter and if your site is cluttered, difficult to navigate, slow to load, and generally has poor UX, customers will leave in a matter of clicks. Make sure that you have up to date and relevant content, strong visual imagery, and fast loading times. Ensure that your contact information is correct and visible, as this may be the first point of contact for many new customers. 

If you are stuck on how to design your website from scratch, try using free website builders such as WordPress or Wix — or if all you need is a simple landing page with a form for customer inquiries and the like, opt for a form builder like Paperform instead.

Run social media accounts – but be choosy.

Around 79% of US adults are on at least one social media channel. However, that doesn’t mean that you have to create an account for every single one of them.

Too big a social media presence, and you may find that you have bitten off more than you can chew if you don’t have the time or means to support these channels. It’s much better to focus on one or two and to do them well, rather than spend time creating accounts that are neglected or don’t receive as much traffic. Spend time finding out which platform is most popular with your target demographic—which of your customer demographics, for example, can be found on Instagram and Facebook? Likely you will find older demographics on the latter, and younger audiences on the former.

You also need to consider the type of content that you post. For example, Instagram and Pinterest are more visual, whereas Twitter is perfect for short, attention-grabbing text. Don’t fall into the trap of sharing the same content across all of the social media platforms that you are active on. You won’t be successful in targeting specific customer segments and will end up with bored and disengaged followers.

Focus on search engine optimization.

If you have done your research into setting up a business website, you will undoubtedly have come across the term search engine optimization (SEO). This is one of the most important things that you can do for your business’ online presence. In its most basic form, SEO is the steps you take towards getting your website ranked as high as possible on search engines such as Google. The higher you are on a search engine, the more traffic you will get to your site.

There are plenty of tutorials and tools online to help you optimize your online content, or you can do as many small business owners do and outsource this task to the professionals. However you do it, make sure that you do it because, without it, your website will struggle to gain any traction.

Wrapping up.

As a new small business, you simply cannot afford not to be active and visible online. However, it is important that you focus on the things that will drive sales, help you build relationships with customers, and increase awareness of your brand. Think very carefully about the content that you post and remember that for many customers, your online presence is their very first interaction with you – make sure that you make it count. 

What are your top tips for building up a small business’s online presence from scratch?

Author Bio

Vlad Shvets is a growth marketer and content writer at Paperform. He loves writing about product marketing, technology, and workplace productivity.

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