You’ve taken the plunge to start your own business. An an SME, one of the core requirements for your business is to get noticed. If you are bootstrapped for cash, your first call-to-action would be getting noticed in ways that can fit in your budget. And you go to requirement would be to use social media tools that are available free of cost. Here is how SMEs can use social media to promote their business.
How SMEs can use social media to promote their business
Here is how SME’s can use social media to gain leverage in the market and get noticed. Some of the tools freely available are social media like Facebook pages, Twitter, and Instagram. Let’s explore how you can come up with effective social media strategies for each of these social media accounts that can boost your business organically.
Start with a plan
Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start! Pretty much a no-brainer. You need to have a plan to start with. And when you have the option of social media, start with these platforms:
Not only is it easy to get started using social media for business purposes, but since there is a comfort factor since these social media is used in our daily life, execution also becomes easier.
Every good business strategy starts with a good plan and you will need time and effort to execute a plan for your business. As long as you have a starting point, it will become easier to tweak the plan according to what is working and what is not.
Some factors to keep in mind when you are creating a plan for social media:
- Use the SMART framework – Your goals need to be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely.
- Research competitors – There will be people with a similar business idea. Research and make notes on what they are doing to promote their business. It can give you some best practices to follow.
- Create a social media calendar – You can start small, but a social media calendar helps you plot your ideas and get started. Over time, look at what is working and what is not. It will help you to tweak your ideas and rework on them. With a few hits and misses, you may just arrive at something that is right for your business.
Follow the 80-20 rule for your business. Use 80% of your content to inform, educate, or entertain your audience. 20% of your posts can be directed at promoting the brand and selling your products.
Choose the right platform(s) for your business
While there are multiple free social media platforms available, one suggestion would be to start with a single platform and then build on to the others. Social media offers a cross-posting element that can help you reshare the same content on different platforms. A piece of advice here is to use scheduling tools that can help your messages reach the audience at different times. No one likes to see the same content populated simultaneously across different platforms, especially if your audience follows you on all platforms.
- Check your insights across different platforms to see when there is maximum traction so that your posts aren’t missed.
- Choose different platforms to reach different audiences if possible.
- Use in-built tools like Twitter Polls and Instagram stories to elicit a response and get ideas on how to build niche content for your business.
- You can look at generating leads by using targeted banners and ads to get more visibility for your business.
- Make a note of trending hashtags that can help you reach the right audience.
Mix your formats
Use a judicious mix of formats for your posts. Use gifs, JPG’s, infographics and videos to engage the audience. As mentioned earlier, create stories and reels in Instagram to create posts that will garner the interest of your audience. When you play with the formats and check insights, you can know which one is working for your social media. Make sure to switch up your social post formats from time to time. Having a mix of content format can also help boost your content reach to the audience. You can use free stock photo sites to get images and create content templates. Canva is my favorite tool that allows me to create templates that can be reused. A pro version allows you to resize images too that can be used across different platforms.
Know your audience
One of the main aspects of using social media in your business is to reach the right audience. You’ll need to dive deep to understand who you really want to reach to. If you have an existing database, compile the database according to geographical locations and their likes and dislikes. Defining an audience helps you understand or create a buyer persona that can help you reach the right people.
A piece of advice here. Be honest to your brand and post great content and you’ll automatically build a great relationship with your audience.
Now that you have got started with using social media, it is important for you to sustain and build a relationship with the audience. One of the most unique features of social media is that it helps you to have real conversations with your audience. Before you plunge into the “buy mode”, educate the audience on the benefits of your offerings. Nurturing relationships can help you build a loyal community that will lead to ongoing sales over time. New customer acquisition is great, but don’t downplay the value of customer retention. Creating a Facebook group to have real conversations, using in-built tools like polls and stories can help you tap on what your audience really wants.
Another good way of building relationships is to add a niche to your offerings. Podcasts can be another informative way to reach your target audience. Collaborate with micro-influencers who can promote your offerings and build a brand trust and recall. When an influencer talks about your product ensure that you acknowledge with a mention in your social media.
Stay updated with trends
No, don’t jump on the bandwagon with anything and everything that is trending, but sometimes it is good to cash on the trends that are going viral if it is in sync with your business. This can help you to create content that can resonate with your audience.
Quality matters, not quantity
When you look at the social media marketing options available, it can get overwhelming. But here is fact, you don’t need to indulge in all! As mentioned earlier, start with one option that you are comfortable with and start expanding with the rest. As a rule, start creating “quality content” in one network. It is important to focus on quality than quantity.
A lot of brands begin with the sell factor that can put users off and you can quickly lose followers. Remember, social marketing is about building relationships.
Sell your stuff with social commerce
Now that you have set the background and built a relationship with the audience, it is time to sell subtly. You can use social media platform to drive sales. Facebook shop, Instagram shops and tagging products in your post can help you make a potential sale. But ensure that you don’t inundate your channels with sale posts.
Track and refine
Not everything may work for your social media and this is the reason why you need to continuously track and refine what you share. Check your analytics to see what posts are working and what is not. This will help you focus on getting the right message across to the audience. Fine-tuning as you progress plays an important role to curate the content.
No matter how big or small your business may be, using social media can help you better connect with the right audience. As time passes, you’ll not only build a loyal following, but also reach to the right target audience. Give social media at least 6 months to a year to show definite results if you are starting out. These are some ways how SMEs can use social media to promote their business.
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