I love social media, as I’m sure you have realised, but the area that I most enjoy is how social media can be used as a cost effective way to advertise, especially for small businesses.Not everyone has multi million pound marketing budgets that can be spent on TV adverts, huge viral campaigns or even larger PPC campaigns.
This is where social media comes in, there is the option to spend a minimal amount of money to reach your desired audience. It may not reach everyone but it will definitely reach some and that means potential conversion.
Most businesses have realised that creating a digital communications strategy is key, no matter what your product or service is, some of your target audience will be using digital platforms to communicate.
The next step is to decide which social media platforms to use, whether it’s your marketing team or you the business owner, it’s always a good idea to trial, collect data and base your decisions from there.
The main contenders will (in general) be Facebook and Twitter. But if you have some really visual products or services, image based platforms like Instagram could be beneficial.
There is also a whole world of video content with the likes of Pinterest, Vimeo and Periscope. Video has been growing rapidly but I would caution the smaller business, as video requires a lot of time and effort, it doesn’t have to be filmed with a whole crew but it does need to be to a high standard, the content has to be relevant and it can’t be a one off performance.
Facebook was the platform that led the way for businesses, with its easy connections and large audience reach. But with the rise in advertising, Facebook has changed the parameters and it has become an advertising driven platform. But do not fear! They have managed to keep the costs to a minimum (if required) which means it is still accessible to the smaller business.
Facebook requires a few posts a week so in terms of staff resources it doesn’t take up too much and the rewards can be huge.
Organically reaching your followers has become more difficult but it is still possible,
however, with a small budget you can reach dramatically more and engage more effectively. It’s easily done, hit boost and off you go, you can even look at specific audience types and set how long you run the ad. I’d suggest a few days at a max, your audience doesn’t want to see the same thing over and over again.
To give you even more data and control over your target audience, Facebook introduced Business Manager last year and although it can be a labyrinth of information, once you have spent some time you will see it provides all the tools a marketer could ever dream off. With it’s help you can start making an impact, tracking results and ROI.
Moving on to the other main contender for your social media affections – Twitter. With Twitter it’s all about interaction and communication. I personally don’t think advertising on Twitter is cost effective, instead I prefer to tweet information about products and services, things that are trending and most importantly the things my audience enjoy talking about.
You’ll find that Twitter is intense, it’s fast paced and content disappears ass quickly as you write it. However, I find it invaluable when building a brand, by providing valuable, interesting content your audience will look forward to spotting a tweet from you. Twitter creates a certain mystery around your brand particularly in smaller locations such as Belfast. By spending time online and interacting with other businesses and customers, soon you will find that people have heard of you.
The only warning I would give with Twitter, is that it requires some time and effort. To create meaningful messages it can’t be done in a vacuum. You have to look at what everyone else is saying and join the conversation, or indeed starting a new one. When someone responds you can’t ignore their interaction, you have to be there quickly with a response. It’s those businesses who react quickest who achieve the most traction.
Many people don’t like the small character allocation on Twitter, but I like to look at it from the angle that it enables you to provide short snappy messages that become the tone of your business. It’s a great challenge and one you should embrace. By being approachable and friendly, as well as communicating with your audience on platforms they enjoy, you will find success.
So there you have it a quick pep talk on how social media channels can help your small business. Next up is a post on Facebook Advertising!