Understanding and optimizing your digital marketing strategy to meet today’s customer journey is challenging! People can search for a local business at any time from any place with a world of knowledge at their fingertips. People use many channels throughout their journey, including search engines, social media, advertising, online reviews, and company websites.
Social media has become an integral part of this customer journey, greatly influencing the decision that your prospective customers make. With people spending, on average, 2 or more hours on social media each day, it is becoming increasingly important to make the most of your online presence on these platforms. In fact, 54% of social browsers admit that they use social media to research products and services. This means that your social media presence could have a significant impact on your business’s success.
In our Complete Guide to Social Media for Business, we are going to look at how you can use the online world of social media to boost your business and achieve success. This includes where to focus your attention, how to approach your online presence, and how we at Surefire Local can help you achieve your business goals.
Top Social Media Trends and Insights
Social media is an important tool that plays an important role in the customer journey. People use social platforms to ask for recommendations and referrals from friends, family, and neighbors. They will compare your business against others to check if your business has a presence on social media and whether your business is actively engaged. People seek relationships with businesses and pillars in their community in order to establish a sense of belonging.
It’s not only users and customers that see this activity, it’s also search engines like Google. Consistent activity and engagement will help you to establish yourself as an industry expert and add credibility to your business in the search algorithm.
But, social media is not without its challenges. Surveys have found that 67% of consumers say responsive customer service is absolutely essential or very important for creating a positive brand experience on social media. This includes not only your willingness to help but also the speed at which your customer service is delivered. In fact, 77% of consumers expect a response in less than 24 hours when reaching out to a company on social media, whether they are commenting, leaving a review, or sending you a direct message. At the same time, however, 2 in 5 (or 41%) of small businesses say that they lack the resources necessary to make the greatest impact with their social media efforts.
When done right, social media can have a tremendous impact on your business. How? It is a powerful tool that can help you to:
- Increase brand awareness
- Build engaged communities
- Promote your products and services
- Measure brand sentiment
- Provide exceptional customer service
- Reach targeted audiences who resemble your ideal customer base
Additionally, social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have high domain authority, meaning that these sites will dominate organic local search results when people go to look for your business. Sometimes, your social profiles serve as your first impression with a new customer, even before your website or your Google My Business listing. So, if you haven’t posted on Facebook in 7months, what will they think about your business?
Social Media Marketing - An Overview
“Social media marketing is the process of creating content that you have tailored to the context of individual social media platforms in order to drive user engagement and sharing.”
To better understand today’s social media platforms, it’s important to understand that each platform has its own unique strengths. It’s not imperative that your business is listed on every platform, but it will only benefit you by expanding your online presence. In this guide, we’re going to specifically look at Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Google My Business, Nextdoor, LinkedIn, TikTok and Pinterest, as well as how you can use social advertising to improve your online reach.
Facebook is the world’s largest social media platform and, as surprising as it may seem, quickly becoming a local search giant behind Google. There is no denying the fact that Google will always control the majority of the local search market, however, recognizing that Facebook is on the rise will empower you to take advantage of this trend. Consumers and users are looking to Facebook not only to look for products and local services, but they’re even going to Facebook for news and current events. This is why it is important to consider your business presence on this wide-reaching platform.
The social platform that everyone uses, Facebook is popular among a wide spectrum of ages and other demographics. The first step to succeeding with Facebook is to set up your business profile page. This includes details such as your category, call to action, address, hours, phone number, website link, profile picture, and cover picture.
Facebook gives you a lot of freedom when it comes to content, allowing you to post images, websites, videos and text posts of all the work that you have been doing. You can test to see what works best with your audience in terms of content type and writing style. Additionally, you can use the platform insights to find the best time to post and engage with your audience specifically for the best reach, whether it’s in the morning or in the evening.
You want to think about how you can participate in Facebook groups local to your community, whether it’s the local Chamber of Commerce or an industry-specific group relating directly to your business. Join groups, like and follow pages relating to your industry and share what the experts in your industry are putting out there.
Instagram is a photo and video dominant channel, which makes it a different format than you would see on Facebook. Instagram is and always will be about pictures and videos, so this is a great opportunity to highlight projects that you have been working on visually.
Make sure that you are using a business account on Instagram and not your personal one. If not, convert your personal profile into a business account to access additional features and opportunities to engage with potential new customers.
Take advantage of all the new ways that you can share content and engage with people, such as your feed posts, stories, reels, live videos, and the newest addition, the live Q&A. You can go a step further and follow relevant hashtags for your business to connect with potential customers and industry leaders. When posting a specific Instagram post, make sure that you are tagging your location.
Reshare posts from recent customers and fans of your business to encourage user-generated content. This will allow you to leverage social proof in your marketing efforts.
Twitter is a social media platform that’s all about in-the-moment updates and news, allowing users to see exactly what you’re doing in real-time. Make each tweet meaningful in order to stand out with all the ‘noise’ of the fast-paced platform and try not to be overly repetitive and robotic. A more personal touch is always great. Due to Twitter’s character limit, don’t use too many hashtags that you can’t include in your message accurately.
You want to monitor your brand name because people will not always add ‘@YourCompanyName’ and tag your business profile when they are talking to you. Responding promptly to any negative comments or customer complaints is going to be essential.
If you see a tweet that is relevant to your business, don’t just retweet. When retweeting, always add a complement to add relevancy to your engagement and put your own spin on the content.
Everybody is familiar with YouTube today. It is a dominant channel for long-form video content, so having a YouTube channel for your company and your brand will only benefit your overall online visibility and digital footprint. You can also repurpose these videos by streaming onto your own website or even publishing them across your other social media platforms.
Putting thought into your titles and cover photos to capture your customer’s attention quickly is important. You’ll want to write a great description and include both relevant keywords and additional links to learn more about your business anytime you post a new video.
Prioritize creating short 5-to-10-minute videos specific to a single topic versus a long 30-to-40-minute video covering a bunch of topics. The attention span of the average user is going to be very short because the platform always presents them with another relevant video to jump to. Make sure that your videos are short and sweet with relevant information that captivates their interests.
As a brand, you want to strive for authenticity over perfection when recording videos, so the quality of the video does not need to be an immaculate production every time. Users are going to recognize that sometimes you’re making these videos on the go to connect with them. Plan out your video content ahead of time, but don’t memorize the script. Doing so will only add to the process of you creating and developing great video content.
Google My Business
Having a Google My Business profile is going to be your lifeline to be connected to users on Google Search by helping you to engage people on the world’s largest search engine. You want to make sure that you’re spending extra time and focus optimizing your Google My Business listing for your company by completing and verifying your profile fully, including adding any core business information that’s related to your business such as categories, location, phone number, business description, hours of operation or the areas that you service.
Of course, this one’s no secret, but you should be asking your customers to write reviews about your business and encouraging them to leave genuine feedback. This has been a struggle for a lot of companies because users just don’t seem to want to take the time to leave feedback unless they are angry about something.
When you do get a review, whether it’s positive or negative, it’s always going to be important to respond to that review in a timely manner. Not only are you letting users know that you’re interacting with your own customers, but you also signal to Google that you’re responding to their users.
Creating Google My Business posts to share content directly inside of Google’s own search result page is going to be important as well, and if you’re not doing this, you are going to want to start. You can leave posts with offers, any updates to your company, or announcements that you will be attending or hosting an event. Adding photos to your profile and encouraging customers to do the same will also help you to optimize the listing.
On a Google search page under your listing, there is a section called Questions and Answers. This is a combination of an FAQ and an online form. It allows users to directly ask your company questions and you can then respond. You, as a company, are also able to ask questions and answer them yourself. If you have a long list of frequently asked questions that you’re hearing from customers, this is the type of information that you are going to want to input into this Q&A section.
Nextdoor is the only community that verifies where you live. This is a platform that is going to be beneficial to you both as an individual as well as a business, especially within the immediate local area.
You want to join your local neighborhoods as yourself as well as create a business profile. Businesses can be in multiple neighborhoods while personal profiles are limited to only one. Engaging in conversations and offering both assistance and expertise to your community is going to be extremely important but you don’t want to be overly aggressive when it comes to pitching your local community. Remember, they are your neighbors.
The key to success on the Nextdoor platform is asking people to recommend you to their neighbors.
LinkedIn, TikTok, and Pinterest
Platforms like LinkedIn, TikTok, and Pinterest also have really valuable user bases. LinkedIn is a professional networking community and networking platform. If you’re trying to recruit and hire employees with the shortage of staff today, it’s going to be extremely important for you to go ahead and let the community and other professionals know that you are hiring for your positions. It’s a great way to network with industry and partners out there that you want to form a connection with.
TikTok is a platform for short-form video content. This includes more fun and playful video content with an educational information twist. It does require creativity and you want to make it captivating by making it engaging. How do you do that? By making it fun.
Pinterest is a photo dominant channel. Similar to Instagram, you want to try to use higher-quality images for your customers to see. This will make it easier and more enticing for your customers to pin and save a photo that they really like. Some examples of photos that would fit this platform include a home addition, a full remodel, or a great project that you’ve just completed.
Advertising on Facebook and Instagram is something that a lot of business owners like yourself are already doing, even if it’s just a minimal monthly spend. This is a way for you to both extend your reach and connect with even more potential customers.
Approximately 80% of Americans use Facebook, with many using it several times a day. The ad targeting options on these platforms offer an amazing degree of granularity, allowing you to really dive deeper into the demographic and the type of customer that you are trying to target. It’s great for showcasing your work and your brand with lead video and image ads.
Advertising costs are also lower on average than other forms of pay-per-click ads such as Google pay-per-click campaigns. For this reason, a smaller budget with social advertising within Facebook and Instagram will go a long way.
Social Media Strategy - 6 Pillars to Find Success
In order to build an effective social media game plan, you want to focus on the following 6 foundational pillars.
When setting your goals and putting your social media strategy together, you want to focus on these important items:
- Brand awareness
- Sales and leads
- Website traffic
- Active digital footprint
- Community engagement
- Supporting your customers
- Brand advocacy
As part of your strategy, you will need to decide which platforms you will prioritize based on where your ideal customers are most engaged and likely to be. The platforms that you choose are where you will spend the bulk of your time creating and managing, saving all other social platforms as secondary channels. Post on your secondary channels when you are able to, but it is not a necessity. Remember, it’s not imperative that you are on every platform or are heavily engaged on each one. You want to make sure that you prioritize where you can best spend your time.
Consistency is important, so put together a content calendar of what you will be sharing and when. Doing so will help you to stay focused and on topic while eliminating wasted time. You want to treat each channel uniquely because, as we previously mentioned, these are all different types of social platforms with unique benefits.
If you’re stuck on what content to create, divide your content into thirds. One-third of your content promotes your business, converts readers, and generates profit. The second third of your content shares ideas, stories, and general education. As an industry expert, you will want to give valuable information. The final third of your content consists of personal interactions with your audience.
Establish your brand identity using a profile picture that includes your company logo, a cover photo that displays your team or your company in action, your business name and your business description. When it comes to branding, you want to make sure that your color scheme and visuals for your company remain consistent wherever you are. Be sure to add any other important information including your phone number, website URL and location and stay consistent across all platforms.
When posting, address your audience directly and talk to them as you would a friend. Use snappy, witty, or intriguing hooks to begin your social media posts and remember, it’s all about captivating the interest of the users that visit your profile. Show people as much as you can in your visuals including both images and videos. Focus not only on the ‘what’ of your message but also on the ‘why’.
With content, use visuals to attract attention. Remember, the average user now would rather look at a video or infographic versus reading. Ask yourself, would what you want to say work better as a text post, video, or image and allow that to direct your content creation. Oftentimes, it will be an image of some sort.
You can use free image apps like Canva to put together your content. Canva is an easy-to-use promotional graphic tool that is available to most users free of charge, with an optional paid upgrade. You want to think about images that include inspiring quotes, creative ideas, and questions in text form.
When creating your content, focus on telling stories to make an impact. Paint a picture that people can relate to and remember, not everybody wants to be sold. Address your customer’s pain points and struggles, offering up ideas and advice that can help them. Present your business as the hero and use targeted hashtags to extend your reach.
The best kind of marketing uses social proof to do the selling for you, so encourage your customers to share their own experiences, photos, and videos. Before and after photos are always popular. Ask your customers when sharing to @ tag your company so that your business is notified. This will allow you to reshare and comment back when your company is mentioned.
Engagement is a vital piece of the social media puzzle. It’s not just about pushing content but engaging in conversation. Encourage two-way conversations with both your potential and existing clients. To get your audience to interact with you, consider setting up polls and asking open-ended questions. Don’t forget to respond to every comment and answer any questions that come your way.
The key to great engagement, analysis allows you to make informed decisions in your social media efforts. Is what you’re sharing getting any engagement or is your audience tuning you out? Are you sharing too frequently, not enough, or on the wrong platforms?
Take the time to analyze your competitors and do something different to stand out. To do so, ask yourself what your competitors are not doing that you can. Are they utilizing Facebook or Instagram Live, or Google My Business Questions and Answers? By analyzing the data and engagement levels within these different social media strategies, you will be able to better understand your customer base.
Use social listening to improve your strategy. Learn more about your customers so that you can better serve them including topics, messaging, content types, platforms used, pain points, motivations, and more. Discover what people think about your brand’s sentiment and keep a watchful eye on your competitors. Looking at social media engagement and the data that you have collected, and conducting a full analysis, will help you to understand where you can do better and where you can improve.
Automation helps you to work smarter, faster, and stronger. To do so, you need to find the right tools or an all-in-one solution that helps with:
- Content creation
- Scheduling and publishing
- Audience engagement
- Brand mentions
Using automation will allow you to save time and become more efficient with your social efforts as well as easily sharing images or videos from your gallery to social media. Having an essential hub for all these items will only make your life easier.
Social media is an important part of your digital footprint and a necessary tool in your marketing efforts. Remember, SEO is not just about your website or just one platform, it’s multi-touch, incorporating all the different areas that you exist online as a company.
Customer expectations have never been greater. Your customers expect you to be available, active, engaged, and transparent, especially when it comes to local services. By creating and applying a strategic social media plan with effective marketing tools, you can achieve great success in your business efforts.
Simply Social Media with an All-In-One Marketing Intelligence Platform
Would you like to learn more about Surefire Local and how our industry-leading all-in-one marketing intelligence platform can make online marketing easy for your small business? If so, we would be happy to connect.
Contact us for your opportunity to attend a Surefire Local Marketing Platform Demo and allow us to show you how we can help!