5 Tips On How To Use Social Media To Grow Your Small Business

Unless you’ve been living off the grid, you’ll know that there is no escaping social media. It is everywhere, it has a great deal of power if you use it properly, and it isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. In fact, growth and adoption continues to rise in South Africa – with 28 million social media users spending an average of 3h 43 minutes on the various platforms per day.

When used right, social media can give your business the opportunity to:

  • Build brand awareness.
  • Drive traffic.
  • Develop customer relationships.
  • Increase leads.
  • Make sales.
  • Keep an eye on the competition.

But how do you harness social platforms to grow your small business?

1. Success Starts With A Plan

We all spend time on social media in our day-to-day lives and so how hard can setting up a presence for your business be, right? We know that it can be tempting to just dive in headfirst, but it’s important to start with a solid strategy in place.

A plan or strategy will help you identify and work towards clear goals, which will also allow you to track your progress and adjust your strategy accordingly.

2. Know Your Audience

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – knowing your target audience and how to reach them is arguably one of the most important factors when creating a small to medium business marketing strategy.

While targeting is important to all marketing, when it comes to social media, it is imperative. Identifying a target market allows you to focus on those most likely to purchase your product or use your service. This limits the population funnels research and budgets to the customers with the highest profit potential.

If you are feeling stuck, take a look at your competitors and what they are doing on their social platforms.  What brand voice are they using? What content do they produce? What social media platforms do they consistently use? Analyse their engagement rates, comments and hashtags as well to get some insightful inspiration.

3. Decide Which Platforms Are Right For Your Business

Now that you have identified and narrowed down your target audience, it’s time to find out what platforms they are using and where they’re most active. 

Make sure to do a deep dive into the different platforms to find out which audiences are their strengths and opportunities. 

On a very high-level basis, we know that:

  • Facebook is the largest social media network with over 2.3 million monthly active users and while it’s tough to decipher exactly what content works best on the network, businesses generally use Facebook to share user-generated content, memes, giveaways and polls.
  • Older generations are spending more time on Facebook than ever before.
  • More than half of Instagram users are under the age of 34. 
  • Instagram is a visual social network whose algorithm prefers video content and rewards engagement. Businesses have also seen great success with using Reels for sharing relevant tips, going behind the scenes at their business and featuring their employees. 
  • We know that Twitter also caters to a younger audience with 38% of Twitter users being between the ages of 18-29.
  • TikTok has become the biggest social network for Gen Z. 
  • LinkedIn is used primarily by whitecollar professionals. Uploading infographics, videos, industry news and research, blogs and in-depth how-to’s work is a surefire way to cement your brand as a thought leader. 

4. Build Relationships

More than 44% of internet users use social networks to research brands. Part of that discovery is getting to know who you are as a brand and what you stand for. But the difference between social media and other marketing opportunities is that with social media you have the opportunity to have a two-way conversation with your customers and build trust.

When people engage with your content, it’s a good idea to engage them back. This helps to build trust and form a loyal following. As customers become loyal and show this through sharing and liking your content, your business will rise in the social algorithms and gain new, free, exposure.

Now that you’ve built a relationship with your customers, it is vital to nurture these relationships to help you build a loyal community that will lead to ongoing sales over time. While we’re always looking for new customer acquisition, we cannot understate the value of customer retention. When in doubt, have a look at the platforms you have chosen and their built-in capabilities. From Twitter polls to interactive stickers on Instagram Stories, there are many ways to spark specific engagement with your followers.

5. Sell Your Goods Through Social Commerce

A real game changer within the social media world was the introduction of social commerce – the ability to sell your products directly from social channels. This means that you can now use social shopping tools to sell your products and services even without a website. 

Instagram, Facebook and Twitter all have their own shopping capabilities. And lately the trend is shopping live –   YouTube’s doing it, as is Instagram, Facebook, TikTok and even Pinterest too – and now Twitter becomes the latest social media app to test out live-stream shopping, in the hopes of increasing eCommerce activity through the immediacy and engagement of retailer broadcasts.

As you implement your social media strategy, you can then start to track what is working and what isn’t. With this information you can start refining and adapting your strategy and your content to the needs and wants of your customer, to increase awareness, engagement leads and conversion.

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