5 Easy Changes Small Businesses Should Make to Their Social Media Strategy to Get Results

A social media strategy is a critical part of your marketing mix. When done right it's one of the most effective ways to grow and communicate with your audience. Unfortunately, there are many ways to get it wrong and most businesses don't quite understand how to approach it successfully. However, with these five simple shifts, you can actually start creating engagement, building your audience and gaining more customers from your social media channels.

#1 Choose the right platforms for your business

As a small business, your resources are limited. Focusing on a couple of the right social media channels for your particular product/service is far more effective than frantically posting to all of them. So, how do you choose your channels? First, decide who your buyer is and find out where they hang out online. For example:

• Facebook users tend to skew older.
• Youtube has more young users.
• Twitter has slightly more men than women.

Then, you should understand how your product may relate to each platform:

• Instagram tends to be more imagery focused, perfect for a photographer, restaurant or art gallery.
• Twitter is all about short, quick-wit status updates, which is really effective for politicians and entertainers.
• LinkedIn is where professionals go to find career guidance and networking, and the ideal space for a career/college counselor to create relationships with prospective clients.

Want to dive deeper? Check out these social media demographics.

#2 Focus on engagement metrics to measure success

Having thousands of followers can feel satisfying. But if none of them are actually engaged with your page, then you're missing the point. Followers do not equal sales. But engagement can. Engagement is when someone interacts with your content (e.g., likes, shares or comments on a post). Engagement is proof that your content is valuable to your online community. To build value, think about what little tidbits of information or expertise you can give your followers. What questions do they have that you can answer? If you're a dentist, you could give dental hygiene tips and post funny dentist visit stories that your customers have shared. If you're a real estate agent, you could post industry articles and share your own expertise on the current market. Give them enough value, and your business will become top-of-mind when they're ready to buy.

#3 Build relationships for indirect sales

Most people don't enjoy feeling like they're being sold to, and especially not in the midst of a health and economic crisis. This is your time to instead focus on building relationships, so when you reopen and/or people feel more comfortable spending money, they will think of you first when they want your product/service. As you continue to post valuable content and increase your engagement, your relationships may start to translate into buyers. However, as tempting as it may be, now is not the time to throw out promotional posts on social media. Instead, position yourself as an expert so that when the time is right you're top-of-mind. This isn't to say you can never post about a sale or special offer. However, you want to make sure you are publishing at least five other non-promotional posts for every one promotional post.

#4 Focus on the quality of your posts

It can feel tempting to post all day long on social media in hopes that it'll attract more attention. The logarithms that dictate who sees what and how often can be confusing. Though posting consistently and regularly is an important part of your social media strategy, if you're publishing irrelevant content, people will be less likely to engage and your visibility will go down as a result. Before posting anything, ask yourself these four questions:

• Does this post help my audience solve a problem?
• Does this post help answer my audience's questions?
• Does this post entertain my audience?
• Does this post provide new, relevant information to my audience?

If you answer yes to at least one of these questions, post with confidence! If not, take a moment to think about what content will do at least one of these four things.

#5 Be consistent and don't give up

When in doubt, keep going. Most social media pages lose traction because they go dark. As long as you keep a consistent posting schedule, provide valuable content and engage with your audience by replying to their comments, the only missing piece is time. Social media followings aren't created overnight, no matter what you've heard. Stick to your plan and practice a little bit of patience before you throw in the towel. You have something unique to offer to your audience and they will be grateful to you for providing it.

You have your strategy, let's build your followers.

Social media is saturated, so attracting new visitors to your business page can be difficult. This is why it's so important to attract followers from additional channels outside of the social media platforms. One way our clients help build their following is through digital ads in our Express newsletter, sent to over 35,000 locals, or on our websites, frequented by over 800,000 monthly unique visitors. These effective digital ads click through to their social media pages where people can choose to follow them.