Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Small businesses have increasingly relied on social media marketing to reach customers, create brand awareness and drive sales over the past decade. Whether you’re just starting or have been in business for years, social media marketing can help your small business reach its full potential. You don’t need to invest thousands of dollars in marketing to grow your customer base and succeed with social media marketing — you need to use it strategically and effectively. To help you grow your small business through social media marketing, we’ve put together this list of nine tips you can use in your next campaign.
Related: 5 Components Your Content Marketing Strategy Needs
1. Decide which platform is best for your business
Social media is a great place to start if you’re thinking about branching out and exploring new marketing avenues. Instagram is an excellent way for businesses with visual products (like clothing or jewelry) to showcase their work. Twitter can be a powerful tool for building relationships and customer service. Facebook is the most popular platform on the web, so it’s worth experimenting with. Not only can you create a Facebook page for your company and post updates, but you can also build a community around it by liking pages related to your work. This will bring in new followers who are interested in your industry.
2. Develop a social media calendar
Start by researching your competition on all the major social media platforms. Look for what they’re doing, how often they post and what their posts look like. By reviewing their work, you’ll be able to determine if you want to emulate them or branch out on your own. Once you’ve found a strategy that works for you, create an editorial calendar with specific day-to-day tasks and goals outlined. You should be updating your social channels throughout the week rather than just once per week. Posting more often keeps people interested and leads them back to your site.
3. Recognize when it’s time to pivot
You might have successfully used a certain method or strategy in the past, but there may come a time when it no longer works or becomes ineffective. If this happens, don’t be afraid to switch gears and try something new that might work better for your company today.
Related: When to Pivot Your Business — and When You Should Just Quit
4. Stay up-to-date on trends
One of the best things you can do for your business is to stay in tune with what’s happening in the digital world. Read blogs, magazines, books and publications about new technologies and innovations that will be relevant to your industry. Join groups, attend events and network with others working in the field so that you can stay current on which consumers are using new channels.
5. Take advantage of live videos
Live video is a great way to engage with customers, respond quickly and provide a behind-the-scenes look at what goes on in your office. It’s also a great way to offer quick tutorials, or an inside peek at the day-to-day workings of your company. If you’re struggling with content ideas, try using live video as a time filler while you think of something else to say.
Related: Why More Brands Are Going Live With Their Videos (and Why You Should, Too)
6. Host a contest or giveaway
Create a contest or giveaway that is centered around your product or service. Make it simple and easy for people to enter by using a form on your website. You can run this contest or giveaway on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. If you are giving away a physical prize like a t-shirt or mug, ensure the shipping is included in the item’s price. Consider setting up a timeline with milestones so customers can see how they’re progressing through the different levels of the competition. Let them know how many more entries they need to get before they reach their next milestone. For example, when a customer has five entries, tell them they need ten more to win a shirt!
7. Collaborate with other businesses or influencers
Collaborating with other companies or influencers can be a great way to leverage one another’s following and increase exposure for both parties. The key is finding a pairing that makes sense and is relevant to the industry. For example, if you own a beauty salon, partnering with a hairstylist would make more sense than partnering with an accountant. Not only are they in different industries, but they also don’t target the exact demographics of people. Other companies that may pair well with you include those in similar fields, such as trade show vendors, suppliers and manufacturers.
Related: 5 Steps to Creating a Content Marketing Strategy That Actually Works
8. Take advantage of paid advertising
Social media advertising is a cost-effective way to drive traffic and increase conversions on your website. Facebook ads, Twitter ads and Instagram ads are all great ways of reaching an audience that might not otherwise come across your content. Targeting based on location, interests, demographics and more allows you to reach the people most likely interested in your offer! If you’re using Facebook or Twitter ads, make sure you set up conversion tracking to see which campaigns are working best for your goals. You can use tools like Google Analytics or Universal Analytics if you’re using Instagram ads to track how many users visit your site after clicking on an ad.
9. Make sure you include strong calls-to-action
One of the best things about social media marketing is that it allows us to create one call-to-action per post, as opposed to one call-to-action per page (like we would do on our site). It’s essential that you put yourself in the shoes of someone scrolling through their feed — how does this post look from their perspective?
In conclusion, the most important thing to remember about any business is that it’s a living, breathing entity. One of the best ways to keep your company alive is by using social media as a marketing tool. Posting on Facebook and Twitter can help you stay visible and fresh in the minds of potential clients. You should also use other platforms such as YouTube, LinkedIn or Google+ if they fit your company’s needs.