It can sometimes seem like getting your small business noticed on social media is like hitting the lottery: it only happens to a few lucky businesses.
In reality, social media success has almost nothing to do with luck, and everything to do with strategy.
For small businesses with a lot of competition, using the right strategies can help you stand out. And standing out is the most important thing, even if you don’t become an overnight social media sensation.
Here are seven strategies that will help get your business noticed on social media:
7 Ways to Get Noticed on Social Media
#1 Make a Plan
Social media might look like it’s all spontaneous, but the reality is, the most successful social media strategies include making an organized plan and sticking with it.
Spontaneity should have a place in your plan — you need to be current, and not looking like you’re phoning it in — but overall, your social media should run on a schedule.
The basis of your plan should be that your social media content will consist of a mix of promotional and non-promotional content.
Part of your plan should be to decide what the your non-promotional posts will entail.
For example, if you decide to queue four original posts a day, you might break it down to one promo, one inspirational quote (branded, like the Economist quote above), one link to content you did not create, and one relatable text post, plus retweets and shares whenever possible.
Your plan shouldn’t be set in stone — in fact, it will be most effective if you allow your plan to be fluid and change over time as you see what works best for you. But there should be a plan in place from the get-go.
#2 Don’t Over-Promote
Your number one goal is to gain as many social media followers as possible. These are people who are literally choosing to allow you to promote to them in their feeds.
The best way to avoid convincing people that you’re worth following (and sticking with) is to over-promote yourself.
How much promotion is too much promotion? A general rule of thumb in social media marketing is The 70/30: As in, 30% of your posts should be promotional, 70% should not be directly promoting your business.
Basically for every one promotional post you make, there should be three or four that do not promote your business.
This isn’t a set-in-stone rule. You don’t want to be actively selling 70% of the time, but if the information is relevant and, more importantly, what your followers want, you can certainly post things that connect to your business most of the time.
Writer’s Digest’s Twitter, for example, posts mostly thing that relate to their publication. It doesn’t come off as promotional, because it’s content that their followers, working and aspiring writers, find valuable.
The more you can present your business with valuable content rather than sales pitches, the better.
#3 Focus On Your Service Area
The internet is huge, and it’s natural to want to tap into the vastness of the web from the start, but, for most small businesses, you’ll have more success if you start local.
Decide the area you service locally. Look at a map to get a real idea of the area.
For many businesses, especially service-oriented businesses, you know they area you serve, because you serve them physically. If you have a brick-and-mortar shop, you know that your customers, unless you operate in a heavy tourist area, will mostly live within ten or twenty miles.
For other businesses, such as graphic design or other freelance services, while you may not need clients to be local to work with them, it’s still a good idea to put some focus on your local area.
Why? Because people and other small businesses are likely to look locally for services like yours first. Because you know your area, its culture, the local trends.
In social media, you can focus on your local service area by setting up your location, joining local groups related to your business, and placing targeted ads by geographic location.
You should also follow local people who show an interest in your industry, or who could benefit from your services. Just remember not to post ads on other people’s pages — on social media, connections should be built organically.
#4 Engage and Interact
The biggest factor in getting noticed on social media is engagement. You can plan and plan and plan, post religiously, and offer high-quality content, but if you don’t interact with followers, you’ll never reach your social media potential.
Sometimes, interaction seems easier said than done, but it’s really not. If you’re not getting comments, go to the account of a mutual follower (preferably one in your industry), and comment on one of their posts.
And when you do get comments, make it your goal to respond to every one until you have more comments than you can respond to individually (and even then, make a comment directed to a group, like Sullivan’s Public House did after announcing they’d won an award).
Being present on social media should be priority.
Make sure you have your business social media accounts on your phone apps, and set it up so that you receive alerts when people interact with your page.
This way, you can respond in more or less real time instead of blocking out a chunk of your day to respond at once.
Not that you shouldn’t devote a certain amount of time on each of your social media accounts each day. Set a timer on your phone so you don’t fall into the abyss — 15 or 30 minutes, tops — and see what other people are talking about and posting.
Comment, share, retweet. It’s all part of social media engagement.
#5 Build a Community
The best small business social media accounts are not just interactive web pages, they’re communities.
Building a community starts with engagement and interaction. Encourage conversation, like Adagio Teas does on Twitter. What makes it a community is having followers who keep coming back to interact with you and each other.
One way to build a community is to start discussions that your followers will want to participate in. This takes trial and error — chances are your first conversation starter won’t catch fire, but keep at it.
If you consistently engage and offer content of interest, a community will grow.
#6 Post on a Schedule
This goes back to having a plan: you should have a regular posting schedule.
Your posting schedule should be more than just posting several times a day at evenly spaced intervals.
That’s a good place to start, but if you find that you get the most engagement at certain times of the day or evening, your schedule should reflect that.
If you’re focusing on your local area, you’ll naturally want to avoid posting during the overnight hours .
You might also want to avoid posting in the morning or early evening, depending on your demographic (for example, if your demo is college kids, mornings are probably bad; if your demo is stay-at-home parents, you should probably avoid the after-school-through-dinnertime hours).
Most auto-post social media tools like HootSuite allow you to fully customize your posting schedule; study your analytics and take advantage of that feature.
#7 Grab Attention
When it comes to social media, don’t worry about being an attention hound, as long as it’s the good kind of attention.
Spamming people’s feeds is always going to lead to the bad kind of attention. A fun and engaging marketing campaign should garner you good attention.
Take Taco Bell’s Super Bowl campaign, where they teased a new mystery item on social media for weeks before. People on Twitter got involved, making videos and commenting about the mystery product.
You may not be a big company like Taco Bell that can do a major Super Bowl campaign, but you can start buzz with an attention-grabbing campaign.
Be mysterious, be clever, and follow through with something satisfying.
Again, don’t confuse “in-your-face” with attention-grabbing. Smaller businesses have a tendency to go for bells and whistles instead of something genuinely interesting, and you should capitalize on that.
Remember in the ‘90s and early ‘00s when small companies would make websites with fancy cursors, moving graphics, and auto-play music? Leave that kind of overkill in the past.
Social media can be an overwhelming place, but it’s really not as disorganized as it may seem. The best social media sites use clear strategies, even if you can’t see it.
Put a few (or all!) of these strategies to the test with your social media, especially if you feel like you’re in a social media rut. You’ll notice a difference.
What kind of social media strategies do you use? Share your tips and tricks in the comments!
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