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How to Approach Social Media as a Small Business

Managing your social media accounts can be a time-consuming process, and time is scarce for most small businesses. The chances are your team already wears multiple hats; the person who is supposed to be handling social media already has their hands full doing accounting or in-person sales. So, social media takes a back seat, even though it can get you 400 percent more sales.

This article is going to show you how to optimize your social media accounts, manage them efficiently, and start building relationships with your followers. I’ll also go over a few time-saving tips and tools to help you manage your time, as well as your social profiles.

Defining & finding your target audience

Some of the more popular networks are Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. However, did you know that brands have started using Instagram, Vine, Pinterest, and even Snapchat to reach their audiences? Also, Facebook may be the largest network, but it might not be the best audience for your brand.

If you try to maintain a presence in all of these profiles, it’ll eat up all of your time, you won’t be able to focus on the one that can deliver the best results, and your content will become old and reused (you’ll end up cross-posting everything). To get the best Return on Investment (or ROI), start with one or two of the channels where your audience hangs out.

If you’re a local restaurant, this could mean focusing on Yelp and Foursquare. If you’re an apparel line, this could be the image-centric Instagram and Facebook. If you’re a news media outlet, send out snippets of news on Twitter.

To determine where your audience is, figure out who they are. Create a profile of your ideal audience member, give him or her a name, and describe hobbies, beliefs, and goals. Smashing Magazine has a great piece on crafting personas, with examples for you to take a look at. This will give you a better idea of the type of social networks he or she regularly visits.

Setting up your profile

The first thing people notice when they visit your profile is your picture. Unless you have a background in graphic design, I suggest you work with a designer to make sure your logo is clear in your profile picture, and your cover or background photos are strategically branded. Many visitors don’t read your description, but they look at your photos, so it should easily showcase your service. These images also must be sized appropriately for each social media site. The Social Media Examiner has a nice guide on social media image sizing.

Your profile setup shouldn’t take you more than one solid hour of work once you have all your brand images in place. Use your profile description to explain the value of your product or service from your customer’s perspective.

Business-centered description: Content Crafters provides customized copy for marketing materials such as brochures, web pages, and press kits.

Customer-centered description: Invest in copy that converts. Content Crafters can create copy for all of your brand’s marketing needs. We tailor each piece of content to your tone and voice, whether it’s online or in print.

Tip: Use the description section for your profile pic and cover photo in Facebook to send people to your website.

Practical insight into running a remote business. Straight to your inbox.

How many times should you post?

There’s no magic number for this, but there are numerous studies that try to give us a better idea of the best time and days to post to various social media channels.

CoSchedule wrote an excellent post covering 16 different studies on optimal social posting times, and Fast Company created an informative infographic on the topic. Here are the takeaways from most studies that have been done.
Facebook: Wednesdays and weekends, 1 to 4 p.m. for clicks.
Twitter: Monday to Thursday, 1 to 3 p.m. and 5 to 6 p.m.
LinkedIn: Tuesday to Thursday, noon and 5 to 6 p.m.

The studies above will give you a good place to start, but you should test out what works best for your audience. Use tools like Facebook Insights and Twitter analytics to determine when your best posting times are for your audience.

Tip: Post during the optimal posting times, but experiment with your timing by posting during odd hours of the day and different days. You may find your most engaging time periods are far from the popular consensus.

Varying your content

This is a simple tactic that can be incredibly difficult. Your page shouldn’t just be posting links; you should be adding value by posting photos, videos, infographics, quotes, and other forms of content.

Many brands (and sometimes I’m guilty of this as well) just post links to their blog posts. It’s tempting to do this because it’s useful, relevant, and easy, but it isn’t enough. For one, links send people away from your social media profiles. If your goal for social media is just to send traffic to your website, that’s fine, but it’s more likely that you want some engagement with your audience, too.

Tip: Create images out of your favorite quotes using Canva and keep them in a folder. When you feel that your content needs some diversity, send out an image quote. Facebook posts with images get 2.3x more engagement than posts without.

Use social engagement to drive conversions

Time-savers

Running a small business is all about efficiency and making the most out of your time, especially with a small team. Here are a few tools that can help you optimize your social media strategy.

Hootsuite

Hootsuite is a social media scheduler that offers in-depth analytics and reports. You’ll be able to see which of your posts did the best, and can add various channels like Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and the like. You can also customize your feeds depending on what you’re monitoring. That means you could see your Twitter messages, mentions, retweets and more in one dashboard.

Buffer

Buffer is social media scheduler that allows you to pull articles and images directly from around the web and add them into your Buffer queue. Just set up your posting schedule, add items to your queue, and your posts will go out according to your pre-set schedule. Alternatively, you can manually set up any post to go out at an exact time and date of your choosing.

Quuu

Quuu is excellent for anyone who doesn’t have time to go out and curate interesting information from around the web. It’ll automatically send out interesting, relevant posts to your Buffer queue based on the topics you select. You can always go into Buffer and remove any of the posts you don’t like.

Your advantage as a small business

Large businesses have large budgets, big teams, and a lot of manpower to throw at a social media presence. However, you as a small business have the advantage of intimacy. Whereas larger businesses typically don’t disclose who is on the other end of their social media conversations, you can. Sometimes, I’ll ask someone a question on behalf of a client and will end the Tweet with “- Rachel” so they know who exactly is asking.

Once you put a name to the brand, it becomes personal, and much easier to establish a relationship.

It may seem overwhelming to handle all this, especially if you have a lot of other responsibilities in the business. However, please don’t neglect your social media presence, as it’s where your clients can find you, you can start discussions, and your brand can monitor the competition. If you follow a few best practices, and use the right tools, the relationships you gain through your social media accounts will be incredibly rewarding.


Rachel Go

Rachel is a content strategist, SEO writer, and inbound marketer. She loves writing about remote work, productivity, and workplace culture. Rachel works remotely from around Asia, and is continuously learning about content strategy, SEO, and WordPress. Connect with her on Twitter @rgo_go.

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