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The incredible rise of TikTok, paired with the constant new features from Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, means that nailing your social media can feel like an overwhelming task. But in a world where work and play has shifted virtually, it’s more important than ever to know how to grow your lightweight social media presence so it can keep up with the heavyweights.

It might sound like a big job, but don’t fret – we’ve got you covered. Here’s my foolproof social media marketing guide, with big brand strategies that will take your small business to the next level in 2022.

Social media business tips

1. Create a content strategy

As with all things, creating a winning social media strategy for your business starts with your business objectives. Having the end in sight ensures you’re here for a good time AND a long time. Like any form of goal setting, your social media goals (or #goals if we’re really getting into the swing of social media lingo) should be SMART. However, try not to focus your objectives solely around the number of followers you want, as engagement through likes, comments, saves and retweets, etc is a much better indication that you are serving your audience adequately through your content.

The next step is to create a customer profile. This is a crucial step as it will give you a deeper understanding of how your customers behave online, which social media platforms they use, who influences them, what their pain points are and their wider interests beyond the product or service your brand is selling.

Here’s a working example for a new non-alcoholic spirits company: Our objective is to become the go-to resource for non-alcoholic drinks across social media to help increase our brand awareness and drive sales for the business. Our customer profiles show we are targeting mainly health-conscious millennial and Gen Z female audiences looking for an alternative to their favourite tipple. We’ll use Instagram and TikTok to share cocktail recipes, fun facts, create content in partnership with health-conscious influencers and run exclusive giveaways. Our content schedule will be five times a week for an initial period of three months and we’ll use the results to gauge average engagement and growth rates in order to set KPIs (key performance indicators) for the next three months.

2. Content is still king

As clichéd as it sounds, creating and posting high quality content is the best way to grow your business on social media. But what does ‘high quality content’ actually mean? The findings from your customer profile research will provide the foundation for your content themes, e.g. if you know your customers’ pain points then you can help provide solutions through your content. If you know your customers’ interests outside of your services and products, this can help you decide what relevant trends you should jump on. A brand that does this well is online beauty retailer Look Fantastic Link opens in a new window. They understand that, aside from loving all things beauty-related, their customers also love binge watching trending shows like Emily In Paris and Tinder Swindler, so they jump on this trend by creating relevant memes Link opens in a new window using popular characters and sayings from the show.

When doing this, it’s important to also put some content guidelines in place before posting, to ensure the quality of your content is consistent. They could be anything, such as ‘does this post draw attention?’, ‘is it entertaining?’, ‘is it educational?’, ‘does it provoke an emotion or an action?’, to name just a few.

4. Consistency is Queen

It’s important to note that you will only see results through consistency. Just like building a business, social media is NOT a quick fix type of job. There’s not a ‘one rule fits all’ when it comes to how often you should be posting; instead, the onus should be on consistency, whether that’s twice a week or every day. It’s important to choose a schedule that’s realistic with your resources and time, or else you set yourself up for becoming overwhelmed and, inevitably, failure. You're establishing key relationships which takes time, and you will only begin to gain your audience’s trust through familiarity. The best time to post is when your audience is active on social media. Each platform has in-app analytics tools to help you determine a time that will work best for your business. If your business has relatively new profiles then utilise insights on posting times from reputable sources like Sprout Social Link opens in a new window, who have carried out extensive research.

5. Don’t forget the ‘social’ part of social media

No one likes the person that spends all of their time talking about themselves, whether that’s at a cocktail party, in the office or over the phone, so why would you do that to your customers on social media? It’s important to ensure you’re replying back to comments, responding to DMs or, at a minimum, acknowledging comments with a like. This is an essential step of building a direct relationship with your consumers and encourages continued engagement and support. Avoid scripted or robotic responses and instead allow your company’s personality to shine through by humanising your copy, both when engaging with your audience and when replying to incoming queries.

6. Consider influencer marketing

Influencer marketing has fast become the go-to option for speaking to consumers in an authentic way. Leveraging the trusted voice, community and reach of someone with influence can amplify your business at scale. The influencer economy on Instagram alone has been valued at $1 billion by marketing agency Mediakix but this doesn't mean you should throw your budget at just anyone. The challenge is to find influencers that align with your brand, and do your due diligence on their true level of influence. Once you’ve identified influencers, ensure to agree to KPIs or analytics reporting to help you measure ROI (return on investment).

Meal-kit company Hello Fresh Link opens in a new window saw a 1,200% increase in new customer leads and created 274% more impressions Link opens in a new window after investing in an influencer and affiliate marketing campaign. They worked with a range of established and emerging UK based influencers to create content using the meal kits, whilst also providing their fanbase with discount codes. Supermarket chain Iceland Link opens in a new window, on the other hand, ditched celebrities in favour of micro-influencers, and saw their approval ratings jump from 10% to 80% after mums viewed vlogger-created content, which delivered above the agreed digital KPIs.

7. Use the features that are given to you

Get creative with the features available on each social media platform; they exist to help you serve your customers better. For instance, on Instagram that could mean using Stories to show the behind-the-scenes or day-to-day running of your business, using polls to collect insight from your audience, or, as we have seen, making use of reels which have a favourable effect on your discovery within the app. One of the most requested features that Instagram has recently delivered on is its shopping feature Link opens in a new window, which creates a more seamless shopping experience for your consumer by allowing them to make purchases in just a few taps without leaving the platform. British luxury lifestyle brand, Barbour Link opens in a new window, reported a 42% increase in their sales from Instagram by using the shopping feature.

8. Analytics are your friend

Any changes to your social media strategy should be driven by data. Each social media platform has analytics to help you identify what is and isn't working, and what resonates with your audience. Evaluate best performing posts to double down on what’s working and look out for your worst performing posts to see what adjustments need to be made to your content. Deep diving into your engagement rates, reach and growth will help you to establish what your average benchmark is.

If you're thinking to yourself 'how am I supposed to keep track of several social media platforms on top of running a business?' then not to worry, we've got you covered with our M-Track dashboard Link opens in a new window. It lets you see the big picture by bringing all your social analytics into one place, including: Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and other marketing insights from Google & Mailchimp. Plus, it even lets you see other areas of your business such as accountancy, HR & ecommerce too. M-Track is available as standard with the M Account for Business Link opens in a new window.

9. Amplify with paid social

Paid social is an option many startups don’t consider when it comes to their social media marketing, however, there’s a good opportunity to increase reach and amplify content if you want to take your social media presence to the next level. Whether you have a big or limited budget, a good place to start is by putting money behind your best performing posts, then use information from your customer profiles, combined with your analytics, to determine the demographics of your targeting to ensure you are reaching your ideal customer. For instance, on Facebook and Instagram, you can choose to target people based on their age, gender, location and the competitor pages they follow. For a more advanced paid social campaign, you can use custom Link opens in a new window and lookalike audiences Link opens in a new window on the platform which target your ads based on data pulled from your own website, apps, existing mailing lists or from Facebook itself.

10. Save time with social media tools

The saying ‘fail to plan, plan to fail’ definitely rings true when it comes to social media. As a busy business owner wearing many hats, the first department that seems to get neglected is social media. The good news is there are many tools available to help manage this, starting with in-platform features on Twitter, TikTok, Facebook and Instagram that allow you to pre-schedule posts. You can also utilise free tools such as Hootsuite Link opens in a new window, Later Link opens in a new window and Buffer Link opens in a new window that allow you to schedule on additional platforms like Linkedin and Pinterest. It’s important to note that if you’re scheduling content, be ready to react and pause any posts that are sensitive to any breaking news or current affairs.

Implementing these Social Media tips for small businesses won’t happen overnight, but once it’s embedded as part of your overall marketing strategy, you’re in for the win.

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