Like it or not, social media comprises a huge portion of people's time, interactions and decisions. There is a great deal of compelling evidence that translates to: yes, your small business should do social media. However, it is also reality that you have limited time and resources. There are a few core activities that I believe you can begin with to establish a social media presence for your small business or brand. While there is an entire ocean of possibilities, if you have to start somewhere: start here.
Like it or not, social media comprises a huge portion of people's time, interactions and decisions. There is a great deal of compelling evidence that translates to: yes, your small business should do social media. However, it is also reality that you have limited time and resources. If you are a start-up, in pre-launch, a brand new business or even just a small, family-owned business, you probably have a lean administrative staff to begin with. Allocating time to planning, posting, managing and overseeing multiple social media profiles that get little interaction can feel like a tough call. This activity, also, tends to be the first thing to fall to the back burner when things get busy.
There are a few core activities that I believe you can begin with to establish a social media presence for your small business or brand. While there is an entire ocean of possibilities, if you have to start somewhere: start here.
First, let's get clear about what social media is and which platforms you need to pay attention to. Social media is computer-based tech that builds a virtual community. Content on a social media platform, whether it's personal or professional, can be shared to a network of other users. According to Pew Research, while trends for social media users used to skew toward younger, wealthier people, social use has broadened significantly to include people who are over 65 years old and come from a variety of backgrounds.
What this means is that, unless you cater to a very specific clientele, your customers are on social media. According to Statista, nearly 12% of global retail sales in 2018 were from e-commerce outlets. People spend money online. Researchers at Hubspot explain that social networks impacted as many as 71% of people to make a certain purchasing choice. So, if your customers are on social media and spend online, that makes a pretty airtight case for your brand to represent itself well.
Your customers aren't just on ANY social media. Each platform has unique characteristics that can help you determine where you should invest your time and ad money. Here are the statistical breakdowns of what kind of people use each of the four major social media platforms:
Note: these numbers should be read as a response to "how many people responded positively." In other words, the first Facebook statistics below indicates that 74% of females and 62% of males who were surveyed use Facebook.
74% female and 62% male
78% of people between the ages of 30-49
65% of people between the ages of 50-64
75% of Facebook users make $75,000 a year or more
77% of Facebook users have a college degree
75% of Facebook users live in urban areas
67% of Facebook users live in suburban areas
52% female and 42% male
32% of all internet users are on Instagram
31% of people between the ages of 18 and 24
32% of people between the ages of 25 and 34
42% of Instagram users make $75,000 a year or more
42% of Instagram users have a college degree
42% of Instagram users live in urban areas
34% of Instagram users live in suburban areas
44% of people between the ages of 18-24
Twitter is more likely to be used by politicians
24% female and 23% male
27% of people between the ages of 30 and 49
32% of Twitter users make $75,000 a year or more
32% of Twitter users have a college degree
29% of Twitter users live in an urban area
23% of Twitter users live in a suburban area
81% of people between the ages of 15 and 25
71% of people between the ages of 26 and 35
67% of people between the ages of 36 and 45
66% of people between the ages of 46 and 55
58% of people 56 years and older
126 million unique monthly viewers
72% female and 75% male
84% of YouTube users make $75,000 a year or more
85% of YouTube users have a college degree
80% of YouTube users live in an urban area
74% of YouTube users live in a suburban area
While it may feel like drinking from a fire hydrant, there really are a finite number of steps to getting to level one for social media use. Steps can help it feel scalable. The numbers should have convinced you that social media is a vital component of your small business digital marketing plan. So, here are some easy steps to creating a social media strategy for your business:
ONE: Pick the social media platforms for your business. Use the above, do some research, figure out where your customers are engaging. Make it easy on yourself: just look at where your competitors are honing in and make sure you are equally present on those platforms.
TWO: Set up profiles on social media for your business. Google it first. What you don't want to do is start a profile, not complete it, do it wrong, etc. There are specific ways to set up business profiles on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. Make sure you do it the right way so that you are a business, not a person.
THREE: Create content. Be realistic. You aren't going to post every day. Shoot for a regular, doable schedule of posting. Pre-write content. Don't rely on your creativity or impulsive inspiration to get the right message across on the fly. Set up a content schedule and even assign writing tasks to team members as they're able.
FOUR: Download a social media management software. Many of them have free levels or offer reduced rates for smaller teams. This will automate your posts, meaning, you sit down on a Saturday and write 30 posts, schedule them and you're done. This doesn't mean you should check out but it is a fail safe when other things are more urgent.
Here are some good ones:
You'll notice that Facebook, for instance, has a post planning mechanism built into it. This is great if you are ONLY using Facebook. Future-proofing may require that you get familiar with one of these or the many other automation and management tools.
There are numerous ways to leverage a growing social media audience for ad delivery and lead generation. This is beyond the scope of this article, as it includes varied approaches and a growing familiarity with digital ad work. More to come on that. For now, look at the bandwidth you have and allocate some resources to establish and get these profiles rolling. It will take time to build followers. Don't give up. Hire a freelancer if you need to. You can do it! You may even like it.