For many small businesses, the ability to be nimble and innovative can be as much of a burden as an opportunity. Uncertainty about where to begin with any new task can be strong. And when it comes to the wide world of social media, with new apps and channels popping up nearly every day, it’s easy to feel lost.
But don’t let these potential challenges keep you from experiencing the amazing benefits that social media can offer a growing company. Follow these six tips and you’ll be engaging new customers and building your business faster than you thought possible!
#1: Don’t confuse a tweet with a post or a pin
First, let’s start with a quick primer on the four main social media platforms for small businesses. Each platform has a different design, user base, and functionality for your business, so it is important to use multiple platforms to reach a wide range of potential customers.
- Facebook: One of the most well-known platforms, with strong community-based interaction through shares, likes, and follows. More than 2 billion monthly active users. Adding content here is called a post.
- Twitter: Primarily associated with a high volume of short (maximum 140 characters) posts. More than 217 million monthly active users. Content on this platform is called a tweet.
- Pinterest: This rapidly growing, visual-based platform is where users are more likely to engage with companies and buy advertised products. Boasts more than 175 million monthly active users. Content here is called a pin.
- Instagram: This visual-based platform averages 120x higher engagement than Twitter; it specifically targets mobile users. Over 700 million monthly users. Content is called a post.
#2: Match the medium to the message
Your social media plan should include multiple platforms, but your content for each platform needs to be tailored to that user base. What makes a good tweet won’t necessarily make an effective pin or Facebook post. Facebook is useful for informative posts, reviews, and links to an online store. Twitter works well for customer interaction, and many companies use it to address customer service issues in a public forum. Pinterest is great for products that have visual appeal, such as fashion or other trendy merchandise, and can drive customers directly to a point of purchase. Instagram’s engagement and visual appeal make it useful for crowdsourcing or customer-involvement campaigns using a connecting hashtag.
#3: Pick the right time
Timing is everything when it comes to social media posts. If you post a time-sensitive announcement while your customers are sleeping, for example, it will be buried in their feeds by the time they wake up. Facebook has the highest engagement on the weekend, and daily posts at 9 am, 1 pm, and 3 pm are the most effective. Twitter sees the most engagement on Wednesdays and at around noon and 5 pm–6 pm. Try to leave at least 30 minutes between tweets. Peak timing on Pinterest is on the weekends and on weekdays outside of business hours. The best time to post on Instagram are 8 am–9 am, and again, it’s best to avoid posting during business hours.
#4: Don’t fake it until you make it
A common mistake for new small business social media users is to buy followers. While having a lot of followers will make you seem more appealing, it will also skew perception of your engagement. If you have only 100 organic followers and buy 10,000, your existing followers may notice the sudden jump and potential new followers will notice that the portion of people actively engaged with you is small (10 likes per post on a page with 10,000 followers is a very low engagement rate).
#5: Don’t ignore your audience
More and more customers are addressing customer service issues through social media. If you’re going to have a presence, don’t ignore your audience, since more than 30% of customers say they will go to a competitor if they feel they’re being ignored. Treat the direct connection to your customers as an opportunity to fix their issue and demonstrate how much you value them.
#6: Have a strategy
We’ve talked about best practices, but you’ll also need a strategy that addresses not only how you will incorporate these practices into your marketing and customer service interactions, but how you will maintain your accounts. Who is responsible for posting? Who is responsible for customer engagement? When will you post, and how often? Treating social media as just one more thing to do, and doing it for the sake of getting it done, rather than doing it right, can do more harm than good. So create a plan and stick to it.
Want to learn more about the power of social media for small business? Watch the latest Webinar replay from the SAP Anywhere Best Practices series.