Social media is something we are all very much familiar with. It has become a means that we can connect with family and friends.
It is also an important marketing tool that has helped to change the way that your small business can reach and communicate with your customers.
Social media has come a long way since it was first introduced in 1996. In fact, social networks have experienced a staggering increase in the number of people using these platforms, from 970 million in 2010 to more than 3.81 billion in 2020.
On average, users spend around 2 hours and 25 minutes on social media daily. That’s a lot!
It’s easy to see even based on simple statistics that there are plenty of opportunities for you to market your business on social media. But…how do you do that in a productive and efficient way. Let’s find out how to plan your next social media strategy.
As a helpful, we have created a synopsis below of the steps that you should follow.
Summary of Key Points
- Plan Your Strategy.
- Choose Your Platforms.
- Define Your Audience.
- Grow Your Audience..
- Develop Your Relationship With Your Audience.
- Keep Track of Trends.
- Use Social Commerce.
- Experimentation with Content Formats.
- Focus on Quality Content.
- Correct Tools
- Schedule Content and Automate for Efficiency.
- Monitor Performance to Improve.
Why You Need a Social Media Strategy Plan
We’ve talked at length previously about the importance of planning. This is true of whether it is a digital marketing plan or any other.
As a small business owner, you are very much aware of the precious nature of your resources and that’s where planning in advance can really help.
As with any plan, you need to define your objectives. These are predominantly a combination of the three below:
- To build brand awareness.
- Foster positive relationships with your audience with the purposes of developing brand loyalty.
- Selling your products and/or services.
While we can all find a million and one reasons not to attend to what we consider administrative tasks, it will absolutely save you time in the long run and it gives you focus to:.
- Understand where your business is currently at.
- Where you would like it to be.
- What to prioritise based on the resources that you have.
- Measure how effective you have been at achieving your goals and objectives.
Types of Social Media Platforms
There are clearly many different social media platforms to choose from. Those that have been established for some time are Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn. Others have emerged since then and one that has particularly taken off since 2020 is TikTok.
As a handy reference, here is a list of the ‘Top 10 Best Social Media Apps for 2021’:
The illustration above provides an indication of the number of active monthly users that each platform attracts, on a global scale. While it is clear that Facebook is the winner by far, it also demonstrates the sheer numbers on each individual platform.
Get to Know Your Audience
Very often, we base our marketing decisions on what we think we know about our audience. Review your social media insights and research data using analytics tools to divulge the facts. It is only by actually establishing these that you can be effective with your campaigns.
Don’t forget to segregate your audience as well. Unfortunately we still have very traditional ways of categorising markets and it’s important to think outside of that too. Typically, we tend to split demographic material into two genders, male and female, or stereotypical heterosexual couples however we know that life is much more diverse than we are fully representing.
Choosing The Right Social Media Platforms For You
Without conducting more comprehensive research for each and every business, it is impossible to provide an exact list of the platforms that would suit yours exactly. However, here are 100+ Social Media Demographics that Matter to Marketers in 2021 that should help to refine which ones would be right for you. Obviously concentrate on those that reflect the characteristics of your audience.
In this instance, we will highlight key findings around age demographics for simplicity:
Facebook Age Demographics
- The majority of Facebook users are aged 18 to 34 years.
- 21.4% of Facebook users are 45 years or more however the senior demographic is the one that is currently exhibiting the fastest growth.
- 32.4% of Facebook users are 25 to 34 years.
Instagram Age Demographics
- Tends to be most popular amongst young teens.
Twitter Age Demographics
- 28.9% of Twitter users are aged 24 to 34 years while 57.1% are 25 to 49 years across the world.
Snapchat Age Demographics
- 84% of users on this platform are aged 34 or under.
- The largest audience for advertising purposes here are aged 13 to 17 years.
YouTube Age Demographics
- 77% of YouTube users are aged between 15 and 25 years.
LinkedIn Profile Demographics
Pinterest Age Demographics
- In the US, the largest group of Pinners are aged 30 to 49 years, representing 35% of the total.
- However, those from Gen Z have increased by 50% year-on-year.
TikTok Age Demographics
As of March 2021 in the US, the profile of TikTok users were made up of
Not only should you review important demographics in your insights, check your optimum day and time in order to maximise this opportunity rather than wasting your marketing efforts. Start out with one or two channels, based on what you can manage.
Improve and Increase Your Audience
So, you are now up to speed as regards your audience profile and you have selected the platforms that will have the best chance of reaching them. Your communication is well underway, what’s next?
Use what you already know to inform the next phase of your strategy and grow your audience further. Take some time to explore what your social media marketing data is showing you as this information will help you to identify and find other lookalike audiences that you can reach out to.
*Top Tip: software such as Hootsuite Geo-search tool can help you with tracking conversations around your brand and in the areas that are most important to your local business.
Nurture Customer Relationships
Social media is an amazing tool for small businesses especially as it allows us to get in directly front of our customers. Here you have a unique opportunity to speak with them personally and essentially face-to-face.
Therefore, when fans and followers take the time to comment on your posts the first thing you should do is acknowledge their interest by replying to them. This begins the process of establishing a connection with them.
The process of nurturing relationships with existing and potential customers can also be facilitated through:
- Facebook groups.
- Make a list of similar businesses to yours that won’t generate a conflict of interests and create collaborative partnerships with them. In the same way, you can connect with influencers for mutually beneficial reasons and supercharge your conversion rate as well as your return on investment.
- Branded hashtags are a good way to attract attention.
- Competitions can help with appealing to a wider audience and also provide you with user generated content which, firstly, generates social proof and credibility for your business and secondly offers material that can be circulated and shared.
- Support your followers too by sharing their content and tagging them. The next time a fan tags you in an Instagram Story, re-share!
- Social Media interactive tools such as polls and stickers which help to bring your customers into conversations and gauge their feedback.
We have mentioned before about the importance of keeping an eye on trends. As we are only too aware, things can change (and dramatically).
Making a transition from offline to predominantly online was something that small businesses had to adapt to very quickly in 2020. The way that content is consumed can vary too as seen here 16 Social Media Trends for 2021 and Beyond. The types of content that your audience prefers may include Facebook streaming, video content or blog posts. It’s good to know so that you can respond to their expectations appropriately.
Social listening is an important skill to develop as part of your overall marketing strategy here. Be vigilant so that you are in tune with what your audience needs and be in a position to satisfy that need.
The average value of e-commerce spend in Ireland is around €16 billion per year. During Covid, there has been a significant shift away from international sales to consumers being much more supportive towards Irish SMEs.
Irish consumers have estimated that they have made most of their online purchases from Irish SMEs (53%) compared with international retailers (47%). It is worth noting that consumers reported they wanted to demonstrate solidarity by buying from Irish retailers however those that bought from international sources cited cheaper products, greater choices and better online services as motivating factors.
Social commerce is where consumers can purchase something directly from social media which means that, although we would recommend it, you don’t have to have a website. Examples of it include Facebook shop, Instagram shopping as well as Instagram Live Shopping. Even Pinterest and TikTok have responded to this trend.
And by all accounts, this trend is set to continue with predictions indicating that retail social commerce sales, in the US, will increase by 34.8% in 2021, reaching $36.09billion or the equivalent of 4.3% of all ecommerce sales.
Use Different Formats for Social Media Posts
When fans view your social media account, they want to get a feel for who you are and what you are about. Constantly posting the same or similar material regularly will do little other than present a bland and one dimensional perception of your company while making it impossible to differentiate between one product and another for example.
Traditionally, jpeg images would have been the most common format to be used on social media but thankfully there are a range of formats to choose from including:
Choose Quality Over Quantity
Don’t be tempted to publish content simply for the sake of it. It is so much better for your image if you produce worthwhile and well thought content rather than risk diluting your efforts with something that is irrelevant and/or inconsistent with your brand.
Top Tip: Be mindful of the 80/20 rule which means that 80% of your content should be focused on entertaining or informing your audience while only 20% should be overtly sales related.
Use Tools To Be Efficient
One of the biggest challenges for small businesses is having time to do everything. This is one of the advantages of using social media.
There are a number of tools that you can use to simplify the workload and reduce the time that you have to spend. You can use these for:
- Determining Engagement.
- Conducting Analytics.
- Designed Graphics.
- Creating Content.
Schedule Posts and Content
Again, rather than having to login to your accounts each and every time you want to publish a post, use third party automation to do this for you such as Buffer or the software that is integrated into your website design. Be efficient and set aside a block each week to create your own content, upload and schedule as appropriate, based on your analytics.
We would always advise that you dedicate some time to reviewing what you have done and learn from that. It is very common to make assumptions, often incorrectly, about the behaviour of customers. Conduct A/B testing for example to determine how your customers react to different subject lines, CTAs etc. It may surprise you!
Finally, be assured that you don’t need to do everything in order to achieve what you want. Choose the strategy that reflects your business goals and budget. This is one of the beauties of using social media, that there is something in it for everyone. Most of all, stay in touch with your audience as that’s what they appreciate the most.