3 rules for small business social success

Simple guidelines to keep your social media efforts in line

How important is social media to small business success? There seems to be a clear line between those businesses that use social to attract customers and those that aren’t using it at all.

According to a recent survey of small business owners1:

  • 53% say that social media/social marketing is the #1 source of leads today – while at the same time…
  • 47% said they don’t even have an active Facebook Page

Whether your business is part of the 53% already using social, or part of the 47% lagging behind, here are 3 basic rules that can help you use social effectively to reach prospects and retain customers.

1. Pick the right platforms

With all the social media channels out there today, it can seem like a tough call trying to figure out which one will help you reach your customers. You should consider the overall reach of each platform and the audience it draws.

A 2016 study by the Pew Research Center2 reported:

  • Facebook is the most widely used social media service — nearly 80% of adults who use the Internet are on Facebook
  • 32% use Instagram, with an audience that leans toward younger users
  • 31% are on Pinterest, with the majority being women
  • 29% are on LinkedIn, which is primarily used for professional networking
  • 24% use Twitter

2. Know your audience

Is your business B2B or B2C? Does your audience expect a certain tone from you and your posts – serious and professional, or fun and lighthearted? What kind of content are your competitors posting on social media – and what kind of response is it getting?

There’s no reason you can’t jump right into sharing and posting content without knowing all the answers…but long term, you definitely want to think about the type of people you want to reachthe types of content they want to see…and the types of content that don’t work for them.

3. Talk with your audience — not just at them

As funny as it may sound, you need to think of social media as a date – if you spend the whole time talking about yourself, it’s not going to go well.

On your Facebook Page, make sure you’re responding to comments on your posts…any @ mentions you might get…and, of course, any direct messages you get.

On other Facebook Pages (like the ones you follow), make sure you’re the one adding valuable comments, asking questions, and offering any helpful insights and advice that you can think of.

BONUS: Establish a consistent calendar, and stick to it

None of the advice above matters much if you don’t “show up” on social. Whether you’re posting your own content (including pictures, videos, surveys, polls and more) or sharing relevant, timely, valuable “curated content” from other sources, you need to post regularly.

You can still start small and build momentum as you go:

  • Start with a goal of posting once a week
  • Once you’re posting twice a week, start looking at the response you’re getting
  • If you’re seeing likes, comments and shares — Try to respond to as many of those as you can, and then see if there’s time for a third weekly post.
  • If you’re not seeing likes, comments and shares — Try some different content. Maybe something you share (instead of a post of your own) will drive more engagement. Maybe a video works better than a picture.

There’s no magic number of posts that works for every business. Try more posts, try fewer posts, try different types of posts – just make sure you’re posting! And if you need help getting started with social marketing, talk to one of Hibu’s experts today.

Your FREE guide to social success

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1. Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index Scores: Q4 2016 – Q4 201
2. Inc.com, How to Choose the Best Social Media Platform for Your Business, May, 2017

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