In the 2015 State of Small Business Marketing report, when asked what marketing tools small businesses use, the #1 response at 61% was social media. This is higher than even email marketing which came in at only 46%. Here are the full results:
This is a mistake on the part of small businesses. The highest priority should always be to build a list to capture visitors arriving from social or search. As Jonathan Bennett pointed out, Social Media Can't Replace Email.
What Social Networks Do Small Businesses Use Most?
When small businesses were asked which social networks they relied upon most, Facebook was #1 at 61%. LinkedIn was second, most likely due to B2B small businesses and Twitter was third.
Surprisingly, "none of the these" is in fourth place, leaving us to wonder where these small businesses are active online as the top seven networks are listed. Most likely, these small businesses are active on either local sites or on niche sites for their industry.
Small Business Spending on Social
22% of small businesses indicated that they overhauled the social media content in 2014:
While small businesses often find social media content challenging, it doesn't have to be. They should imagine they are their ideal customer. What would you, as your customer, be interested in?
What could you share to make your brand memorable? 18% indicated they would make overhauling their social media content a priority in 2015:
These are actually very low numbers. If 61% of small businesses are active on social media, all of them should be sharing new content. Perhaps they don't think of new social content as "overhauling". They may believe that means to rebrand or update their Facebook header and pages.
SmallBiz Social Media Strategy
The first step to knowing what to post for any business is to have clear goals. What you want your social followers to do should guide what you choose to post. Here are some specific strategies for small businesses in general, and unique circumstances.
Most small businesses should not be posting only about what they sell. The usual advice is to share 90% curated content from other sources and 10% about your business. Others recommend 70% curated content and 30% about your business.
I buy a lot of products from Swanson Vitamins and Tropical Traditions. While they do share what is on special each week, they curate a lot of content of interest to their buyers. For example, they will share NaturalNews posts about avoiding GMO, supplements, or the health benefits of coconut oil.
By sharing content their buyers are interested in, they keep them interacting with their page in a way that only posting their products would not do.
Focus on what your customer demographic buys besides what you sell. For example, if you sell diapers, share content about car seat safety, cute baby clothes, or how to make your own organic baby food.
This applies to most - but not all - small businesses.
Ocho Candy only talks about their candy on their Facebook page and does well doing that. They have contests and get a lot of interaction. What else would they talk about? Another exception is seasonal businesses.
If your business is seasonal, grow your following without reducing interactions by not posting very frequently. For example, if you were Uncle Buck's Berries, a berry farm that only has berries to sell during a three week period of each year, you want to maximize the attention your Facebook posts get during that critical period.
Publish a post the day before you want customers to come out and pick. Promote your posts and run ads just before the season starts and heavily throughout the picking weeks.
For example, during the picking season, share information about when your berry patch is open, pricing, directions, and picking on shares.
Between posts intended to get people to come out to your berry patch, share videos to encourage larger sales such as:
- Videos on how to freeze berries
- Videos on how to make jams or jellies or can whole berries
During the off season, which is most of the year, maintain and grow your following by sharing useful content related to what you sell: berries. When picking season is over, share:
- Recipes for making pies and cobblers from frozen or canned berries
- Videos on how to make berry syrup
- Ideas for how to use berries in pancakes or muffins
Unlike most small businesses, a berry farm with a very short season should focus on only sharing content related to getting people out to pick and buy berries.
This is NOT the advice other small businesses should follow that operate all year.
Social Media Content Ideas
If you have a customer service department, find out what questions your customers commonly ask. Develop content that answers those questions and share it across social networks.
Use Twitter search to uncover tweets about your products and company. Answer those tweets and use them for ideas of what to share on other social networks.
Remember that your social media activities should have a customer focus. Share what they want and you will continue to grow your following and increase interactions.