Leveraging the Power of Social Media to Grow Your Small Business

Except you have been living under the rock, everyone knows how much influence social media has on this generation. And in significant share, it has affected the way businesses are being done and marketed today. Social media is arguably a powerful marketing tool for any type of business, and virtually everyone knows that.

But the question is, how well are you using social media to promote your local business? Are you doing things the right way? Is social media working for your business at all? There is a vast difference between just having a social media profile – casually posting on social media and having an effective, well-thought-out social media marketing strategy.  

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In this guide, we will be showing you the reasons many local businesses are not doing enough on social media and how that has impacted their business. We will also unravel the role social media plays in the customer journey and some strategies you can implement to get the best results from social media marketing. So get ready to learn that secret you need to drive quality leads and engagement for your local business.

First Things First: Let’s Identify the Challenges

How social media impacts customer’s journey

While it is great to have a good understanding of what social media marketing is and then craft an effective strategy to enjoy the most from it, it is best to first understand where social media comes in in the decision-making journey of your potential customers. 

Every customer’s journey is in form of a funnel – called the purchase funnel. This shows how your potential customers journey towards purchasing your product or service. 

It is usually Awareness > Familiarity > Consideration > Purchase > Loyalty

While there are usually lots of people at the mouth of the funnel, that is the Awareness phase, the number begins to reduce as they journey down the funnel. That way, the bottom of the funnel is usually comprised of customers that are ready to buy your product and become a loyal customer.

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But is this still the same till today?

The truth is that things have changed – they are no longer what they used to be a couple of years ago. Forrester Research conducted a study in 2015, and in that study, they showed that 90% of a buyer’s journey is now self-directed. The typical flow customers follow when interacting with a business hasn’t changed much. Customer behavior is still very much like – know, like, trust, purchase, repeat, and refer. 

However, what has changed is that customers now have a more active role to play in the journey than it used to be. Now, customers share information about your local business. They make research about your products and services. And then come to their own conclusion. And interestingly, for almost 80% of these customers, most of this action takes place on social media.

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Understand Where To Begin From?

Presently, there are more than 2.3 billion active social media users across the globe. So if you are considering taking your business to the next level using social media, you should understand which of these platform will work best for your business. that is where you should start from.

Facebook presently has about 1.44 billion active users and each of them spends about 20 minutes on the platform every day. Instagram has 4 million active users with a daily average use of 21 minutes. And YouTube has about 1 billion active users and each of them spends about 40 minutes there daily. The same thing applies to other social media platforms, showing that people actually use these channels – lots of people! 

But before you get your head worked up about how big a fraction of the population pie you could reach using your social media accounts, what you should first do is to address those common challenges that have plagued many businesses for years when it comes to using and marketing their businesses on social media. 

So what are the challenges social media strategists and local business owners do face? Here are the most common 5:

  • The problem of knowing how to engage their local community
  • How to avoid getting lost in the crowd 
  • How to remain genuine even as they sell themselves
  • How to make sure reviews help convince potential customers to buy
  • How to deal with drops in organic reach

Now let’s see how to tackle each of these challenges. That is what we will be addressing in the next section of this guide.

How Do You Solve the Common Challenges?

Consider this as a basic playbook for helping you solve the five big challenges we have earlier outlined. These are the strategies to solve the social media marketing challenges. However, these strategies are not designed the same way. Some will have a steeper learning curve than others, but you can be sure it’s really worth mastering all of them. So, let’s get to work!

Challenge: How do I engage my local community?

Solution: Create relevant content that speaks to the pain point of people in the community

If your focus is to engage with your local customers and build a huge following, you just need to create content that will resonate well with the people. When they see that you are speaking their language with your content, it will be easy for you to engage them in the most surprising way. 

If you don’t know how to go about this, here are some steps to follow:

  • Provide useful content that addresses their needs

Research shows that three out of four consumers will first research online before they make a major purchase. To be able to win them over to yourself, you only need to provide that useful content when they needed it most. 

At the same time, people are not only after understanding your product or service but also want to compare them with what’s available in the next shop so they can make the most bang for their buck. Therefore, make it a point of duty to educate your audience with your content before convincing them to buy from you. People tend to easily follow and buy from someone they can trust to give them useful information about their needs.

  • Meet your customers where they are

It is no longer news that people are already diversifying their social media use. This was clearly seen by the sharp drop in Facebook market share of visits in 2017 – where it dropped from 70% to barely 40%. That should send a message to you. 

If people are diversifying their social media use, it means you cannot concentrate on just one social channel and expect to see the best results with your social media marketing. You will need to identify where your customers are and then take the right steps to engage them right where they are.

  • Make it easy for your them to share your business 

There is always a higher tendency that a user will click to view your content if a person they know, like, or trust shares it. And that’s where the power of influencers comes in. Each of your customers has their own sphere of influence. So, you need to find a way to convince them to share your content with their circles. But how do you do that?

According to a study by the New York Times Customer Insight Group, there are majorly five factors that often determine if people will share your content or not. Your existing customer will most likely share your content if it:

  • Addresses their pain points
  • Makes them feel more involved in a movement
  • Has what it takes to help them become a better person in their relationships
  • Is entertaining 
  • Better expresses the kind of person they are and what they care about.

Challenge: How to make sure reviews help convince potential customers to buy 

Solution: Manage your reviews 

Reviews are very powerful for promoting any business, including on social media. About 92% of consumers say they would check reviews online about a product or service before making a decision to buy. That means, having an excellent way of getting and responding to reviews on your business profiles will make a huge impact on your social media marketing ROI. So, how do you conduct yourself to make sure you make the most of customer reviews on your site?

  • Acknowledge your followers

Social media provides an avenue to better connect with your customers. So if you wouldn’t ignore a customer in real life, you obviously shouldn’t do that on social media either. Unlike the traditional broadcast channels like TV or radio, social media is built on communication to foster relationship. If you are not conversing with your customers, you may not get the best result from your social marketing strategies.

Challenge: How to remain genuine even as you sell yourself

Solution: Master the art of storytelling

Storytelling is one of the ways to build passionate and loyal customers. Big brands like Coke and Nike understand this and that is why they have built so much capacity around it. 

When you switch to storytelling when marketing your business, it will help you stay authentic even as sell yourself. So, master the art that will help you build loyal customers. Tell them who you are, why you are in the business, who you work with, and what a day on the job looks like for you. 

You can as well take things a step further by encouraging your happy customers and followers to take part in your story. However, while you do all of these, remember to keep your messaging consistent throughout your social media profiles – across different social media platforms.

  • Ask your customers to leave reviews on your business and also refer you

There is no problem with asking your happy customers to leave reviews and feedback on your profile. But you just need to know when the right time to ask is. A customer will most likely be willing to give you a review when they just got the product they purchase or have their task completed. 

Develop a welcoming strategy to encourage your customers to leave reviews for you. If there is an order or warranty registration form to be filled out after order is complete, that will make a great opportunity for you to request feedback and suggestions.

  • Don’t let the numbers cloud your judgment

Surprisingly, customers tend to assign more weight to 2- to 4-star ratings than 5-star ratings. Different studies have revealed that purchases are most times influenced by reviews with an average rating between 4.2 and 4.5 rather than 5-star ratings. This is because most people consider 5-star ratings to be “too good to be true.” 

That means you don’t have to feel discouraged every time you get negative reviews. In fact, negative reviews also have a way of helping to boost sales. Just focus on building a strong management program so you won’t have to worry too much about a less-than-perfect average star rating.

  • Respond promptly and politely to all reviews

Yes, make it a point of duty to always respond to every review customers leave in your business – whether good or bad. If you only thank people when they give you positive feedback, then you are not doing any good to your reputation online. 

Instead, respond to all reviews in a professional and polite way, especially the negative ones. The best way to deal with negative reviews is to respond immediately, but try to drive the conversation offline. Then make a genuine attempt to provide a satisfactory solution to the customer’s concern. 

When your customers see that you actually listen to them and their feedback, they will be more encouraged to leave more reviews for you. Obviously, these reviews will help convert a potential customer to a purchasing customer in the future.

Challenge: How do you deal with drops in organic reach? 

Solution: Drive more leads using paid advertising  

There are two major ways brands on social media can drive traffic to their business; organic reach and a paid reach. Both of these channels are good just that on some more mature platforms like Facebook, you cannot rely only on organic reach. You may need to up your game by including paid advertising in your social media marketing strategy. So, it is a matter of organic reach “and” paid reach… not organic reach “or” paid reach. 

However, when promoting your post on this platform, don’t just try to cast the widest net by trying to target everyone. That will not give you the most bang for your buck. Instead, narrow your audience so that you can be positioned right in front of relevant people. That’s a better way to get more targeted leads.  

On Facebook, you can narrow your audience and target your ads based on:

  • Age
  • Location
  • Gender
  • Language
  • Interests and behaviors
  • Connections (to an event, app, or your pages)

There are also targeting features in YouTube, Pinterest, Twitter, and most other social platforms you can use to narrow your audience and increase your targeting capabilities. Ensure you are not neglecting these features.

Challenge: How do you avoid getting lost in the crowd? 

Solution: Leverage video to grab attention and maximize engagement  

Visuals are important in any form of marketing, and this is especially true with videos. More than text, videos have a powerful way of keeping people engaged. Most consumers say they prefer they prefer videos over text when learning about a product or service a local business is offering. 

Videos are also much easier for people to share, and are a natural medium for storytelling. Furthermore, you don’t have to have a lot of resources to enjoy the benefits of video content in marketing. These are two tricks that can help you get things rolling right away:

  • Upload Videos directly on Facebook not through links 

There is a reason video advertising experts recommend that you shouldn’t share links to your YouTube videos on Facebook. On average, videos posted directly to Facebook reach twice the number of people that videos posted via a third-party link will reach. Such videos also get 2.67 more shares and 2.38 times more likes. So posting videos directly from your devices can help you get better results from social media marketing; leverage it.

  • Leverage the YouTube Director for Business app

This is a free tool that helps you create amazing and polished videos you can post directly from your phone to YouTube to engage customers there. The app provides easy guidelines and templates you can use to produce high-quality ads, even without having any experience with video creation.

More Tips to Make Social Media Work for Your Business

#1: Have a clear goal

Like we earlier said, taking the route of paid advertising on social media is good for your small business – it produces better reach and engagement than organic reach. However, paid advertising on a platform like Facebook, for example, requires both time and money, there will also be a learning curve. 

So before you start this, make sure you have a clear goal/ know exactly what you are looking to achieve – whether it is sales, leads, or both. In that case, you don’t have to worry too much about “dopey” metrics like impressions and likes. 

Facebook ads allow you to track and measure results. Use that to know if the resources you are expending on ads are really bringing in the result you want. That way, you will know if it’s worth it or not.

#2: Work with others in your industry

Another easy and effective way to get in front of a new audience and prospective customers is to connect with other people in your niche. If there are micro-influencers in your space that you know can help you drive conversion, find a way to connect with them. One effective way is to share their content so you can become part of their community.

However, social media is not only about sharing information with your customers; you can also be a part of a broader conversation. For instance, if your local business produces healthy snacks, it will make a lot of sense to find a food blogger in your community. Collaborate with them and let them help share some healthy recipes. That way, you will be taking your local business to a wider audience, hence reinforcing your social media marketing strategy. 

#3: How often should you post?

This is one question many local business owners don’t have the right answer to. And that is one of the reasons they are not seeing results from their social medial marketing efforts. Well, there is no one-size-fits-all time to post on social media. It absolutely depends on the social media platform it is and the message you are looking to share with your customers.

Here are some rough guidelines that could help:

  • Facebook: posting once a day is okay on this platform. If you post too much, your customers may disengage.
  • Instagram: regular posts and daily stories will boost engagement and interaction
  • LinkedIn: share helpful content many times a week. Put more focus on video content – they tend to be more effective on LinkedIn.

Twitter: schedule multiple tweets per day, especially when you know your audience will be online to see them.

#4: Schedule your posts

It is important to keep your customers engaged at all times by regularly posting on your profile. Consistent posting will show your customers that you are serious about your business, hence, helping to build a level of trust in them. But staying consistent may not be very easy when you have a very long to-do list to work out? That is where scheduling can help.

If you schedule your posts, you will not be distracted by scrolling through your feed when you need to post and get back to work. You only need to dedicate a particular day or hours of the week to schedule all your posts and put them on autopilot.

#5: Be creative with your posts

It is understandable that you want to keep your message consistent across your social media platforms. But using the same type of post format over and over can bore out your audience. So try to be creative with your posts. Mix up the formats and posts. If you usually use JPG format, why not try GIFs? If you normally do still images, try videos. 

Leverage all the format types the social platform is offering, such as Reels, Stories, or Live video. This will help keep your customers engage in varying ways and so will help register your brand in your mind. That is a smart way to build loyal customers for your small business.

Final Note

Social media is indeed a powerful tool that can help local businesses achieve their business goals. Having the right strategies will help you make social media work for your business. So, identify who your potential customers are and know where you could likely find them. 

Regularly create content that matters to them and pay close attention to your reviews. Promptly respond to your reviews – whether good or bad. Invest in paid advertising and leverage useful tools to make the journey easier for you.

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#6: Use the right tools

Using tools will help facilitate your social media marketing strategies and help them produce the best results. So take advantage of available tools that can help automate and simplify most parts of the work. 

There are tons of tools out there that help boost productivity – even without having to have a marketing team for your business. Some of these tools are:

  • Engagement management tools

These tools help you manage your engagement in the best way possible. a good example of this is Hootsuite. That is a tool that helps you centralize all messages and mentions directed at your company in one dashboard. That way, it becomes very easy for you to respond and engage without having to separately sign into each of the social media profiles. 

  • Analytics

These tools help you get all your analytics data in one place. That will help you have a clearer picture of how your strategies are doing and if you should continue with them. Most social media platforms have this tool built-in.

  • Graphics

It may not be very easy to create quality, eye-catching images for your posts, especially if you have zero experience with graphic designs. But there are some tools that can simplify the whole thing for you. Some of them include Canva, VSCO, and A Color Story.

  • Content curation

Having to come up with new and fresh content every time on your social media channels can also be a daunting task. But content curation tools can help. These tools help you share quality photos that were posted by other users – of course, with a credit. Examples of these tools are BuzzSumo and Pocket. 

They help you find organized content you can share in order to regularly keep your customers engaged.