From that little German bakery in Minneapolis that reminds me of my time studying abroad to that small specialty store that always has the coolest gifts for my friends, I just love supporting small businesses. There’s something to be said for the challenging work it takes to start and run a business, especially those that have a small staff and limited resources. Not only do I try and support them on Small Business Saturday and during National Small Business Week, I am passionate about finding ways to help them grow by using social media.
Social media is a low-cost marketing opportunity for small businesses. If used effectively, it can help promote goods and services. It can also provide a unique opportunity to obtain customer feedback and build relationships.
If you’re a small business owner or know one who might benefit from utilizing social media to help their business grow, this article is for you. You may be thinking; how can I focus on social media when I don’t have a dedicated staff person to post on our social media accounts? How do I even know what I should post? Is social media even worth the risk for my business? It’s time to put your fear aside and give social media a shot.
Here are four tips to help you use social media to your advantage:
Learn about the various social media platforms and develop a social media strategy for your business. You can certainly look at other businesses’ social media accounts to get an idea of what types of things they post. I would also recommend taking a class if possible, especially if you haven’t previously spent much time on social media. The National Institute for Social Media does offer an online social media marketing certificate class for beginners, that could be a good opportunity for your organization. Check out the link below:
Develop a content calendar as part of your social media strategy. My advice would be to start with a single month and plan that out. Decide what days you’d like to post on your accounts as well as what type of content you’d like to do. For example, on Mondays NISM tries to post “Motivation Monday” on our Instagram accounts to encourage interaction with our followers. The posts are usually inspirational quotes and we add some hashtags and discussion questions to tie it all together. Although you may not have a dedicated staffer to do the posts full-time, even posting every Monday and Wednesday could make an impact on your brand awareness and customer engagement.
Increase brand awareness through contests and giveaways. One of the things I love about social media is how I’ve had the opportunity to connect with businesses I regularly visit as well as new businesses. I get excited when they do fun contests where I can win stuff. Who doesn’t love freebies?! I follow a small cheesecake company on Twitter and each month they have a “guess a number” contest. If they choose your number, you win a free cheesecake. Although I’ve never won, I’ve gotten creative in my guesses and it’s fun hearing the rational the owner gives for why she chose a number for that month. (Usually it ties into a historical date or event they are having.) Sure, it costs them a free cheesecake every month, but I’m sure it has helped increase their brand awareness.
I’ve also participated in contests where you are asked to share the small business’ Facebook page to help them increase their number of likes and if you are selected, you could win a gift certificate or other prize package.
Use your creativity and come up with contests/giveaways that are a good fit for your business and your marketing goals!
Evaluate your social media engagement plan on a regular basis. After you have finished your first month of posts, take a closer look at your number of followers and customer interactions. Did certain posts get you more likes than others? Why is that? By taking a closer look, you can always tweak your strategy. Remember, it takes time to develop an effective social media strategic plan!
How has social media helped your small business? Share your stories below.
Author: Amy Berger
Amy Berger is a corporate communications writer based in Minnesota. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Gustavus Adophus College and a Master’s in Business Administration from the College of Saint Scholastica. She is currently interning at the National Institute for Social Media.
Connect with her via LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/amy-berger-m-b-a-85b3149/
and Twitter @amykberger