With over 2.6 billion social media users worldwide, it’s no secret why over 50% of small business owners in the U.S. rely on social media as their digital marketing tactic of choice. Social media marketing is cost effective and, if executed correctly, can provide a wealth of opportunities for small businesses. It can build brand awareness, help you connect with customers old and new and lead to increased sales.

There are numerous social media channels available, so the first step for small businesses looking to incorporate social into their digital marketing plan is to determine which networks your target audience utilizes. Each social channel will provide different benefits, so you must figure out your objectives regarding your audience and which channels will work best for meeting them.

Facebook

The largest and most universal social channel, Facebook, boasts over 2 billion active users and is a great avenue for connecting with customers both near and far. Facebook offers a variety of different opportunities for small businesses to connect with customers, including messaging capabilities, reviews, live video and the ability to create, post and share various content (contests, events, sales, etc.). Best of all, it’s completely free to set up a business page.

Facebook is relatively easy to maintain, as users can post whenever they see applicable. Such posts allow businesses to humanize their brand and connect with customers on a more personal level through nonbusiness related content and direct engagement. Additionally, for an added cost, Facebook allows small businesses to connect with the users they want to reach via paid advertising campaigns that target a chosen audience. After determining your budget, you can select the audience based on demographics, specific behaviors and more, and choose how long the ad will run.

Odds are that your competition is already using Facebook, and to avoid missed opportunities, you should too. If you need help learning how to set up a Page for your business, Facebook offers easy to follow, step by step instructions.  

Twitter

Though less popular than Facebook in terms of users, Twitter can prove useful for small businesses, as 47% of people who follow a brand on Twitter are more likely to visit that company’s website. Additionally, Twitter has over 313 million users who send 6,000 tweets per second.

Twitter differs from Facebook in that it requires more strategic planning. You’ll want to have a clear strategy in place to help your small business meets its marketing goals. Whether you’re looking to generate leads, build brand awareness or get people to subscribe to your newsletter, with goals in place, you can measure progress and determine if your strategy is working.

This platform is useful for sharing your content, while also sharing and retweeting other user’s relevant content. This will show customers that you’re versatile and aren’t only interested in your business. #Hashtags are a great way to boost a post’s popularity, as they help people discover topics and events easily via a simple search.

Small businesses can advertise on Twitter for an added cost, and there are plenty of options available for doing so. According to Business News Daily,

Promoted Tweets are a way for advertisers to increase engagement and expand their reach to a wider group of users beyond their follower base. These tweets are labeled “promoted” across the bottom of the ad, above the reply, retweet and like buttons. You can learn more about Promoted Tweets on Twitter.

If you’re looking to incorporate Twitter into your social media marketing plan, here’s a guide to help you along your journey.

Snapchat

Snapchat is unique from other social media apps like Facebook and Twitter in that it doesn’t utilize hashtags, comments or likes, but rather it allows users to send temporary short images and videos to one another. For small businesses looking to appeal to a younger demographic, Snapchat is a great option, as 71% of Snapchat users are under 34 years old.

Small businesses will likely gain the most from using Snapchat Stories. These stories allow businesses to showcase to customers the unique aspects of your organization. Things like product demos, behind the scenes or new projects you’re working on can be showcased via this avenue. Even regular day to day operations showing how your business runs can be highlighted within your Snap Story.

There are several ways to advertise on Snapchat, including snap ads, which are 10 second videos that offer an interactive element like a call to action. Sponsored geofilters are lenses that cover a specific location, so if users were within the set location area of your business then the filter would appear after a user takes a photo or video. Sponsored lenses use facial recognition and transforms the user into someone different, or adds a unique filter (dogs, flower crowns, fire, animal ears, etc.).

During the last five years, the app has added messaging, image storage, events and media content to its offerings. If you’re unsure of whether this is a good fit for your small business, Snapchat’s website may help shed some light.

LinkedIn

With over 467 million users, LinkedIn is the largest platform for business professionals. The platform focuses on hiring and development, so your LinkedIn strategy should be different from your Facebook or Twitter plan, as its purpose is very different.

Although it’s unlike the others, LinkedIn still has several benefits for small businesses. First and foremost, it’s helpful with recruiting and hiring relevant talent, and it also allows you to connect with specific vendors and suppliers. Your content on LinkedIn should be relevant to your industry and help cement your small business’s reputation as a leader in your respective field and what you can contribute to improving it. More than 1 million people use LinkedIn’s publishing platform, sharing over 130,000 posts each week, so it’s important to figure out how to set yourself apart from your competitors.

According to Hootsuite,

Think of your company page as a supplement to your website: It helps you drive traffic to your site and provides an outlet to promote your products, services, and content. Your LinkedIn Company Page provides free marketing opportunities and enhances the credibility of your company.

If you’re unsure of how to create a company page on LinkedIn, the company offers instructions on how to do so. The company also provides audience targeting tips for businesses looking to reach a specific audience on the platform through paid advertising campaigns.

Conclusion

Most small businesses can’t afford to hire an entire team of experts to research, plan and execute full social media marketing plans, however, if you focus on the platforms most relevant to your business, social can be an extremely useful tool for outshining competitors. If you’re unsure of where to start, try looking to your competitors and seeing which channels they utilize.

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