Social Media for SME’s – 8 real world actions for growth on a shoestring

Social, Social everywhere and none of it works – sound familiar? If you’re sick of hearing the unbelievable tales of “that video that went viral” or that “influencer marketing hack” then this is the blog for you. No nonsense – as little jargon as we can possible muster – and absolutely no complicated data mapping just 8 super simple actions you can take this week to help you grow without breaking the bank.

If you’re in a rush feel free to jump to the actions below:

1. People First
2. Originality
3. Start a conversation
4. Connect Social to your Business
5. Connect Social to your Employees
6. Measure
7. Proof and Trust
8. No one size fits all

Social Media for SME’s Action 1 – People First

Always put your audience first – think, act and “social” with your audience in mind – what would help, entertain, engage or inform them – if you can get that right then you’re on the right path.

This will always be our golden rule so if you don’t read any further than this you can at least take this one to the bank. Social Media is 100% not about you or your business (harsh we know but true – sorry!). To be frank about it most social media users use Facebook/ Linkedin/ Twitter/ Instagram etc to connect with friends & lovers, share pictures (and get gratifying likes) or get hired. We (you included) don’t log into to find suppliers or products and so businesses that treat social like an ad board are likely to struggle significantly for results.

Talk to your buyers and your sales team about what your audience really cares about, what challenges do they really face in their day to day lives and what really keeps them up at night? Take our world – most business owners that we talk to really struggle to get Social Media to perform and feel like they’re missing a slice of the action – hence this blog! Put your audience first and create and curate from there.

Social Media for SME’s Action 2 – Originality

On the subject of creating content for social, originality is a massive factor to success. Most businesses (and agencies for that matter) will be looking for that one video/ post/ infographic that suddenly goes viral. Let’s be real for a moment – viral content is incredibly rare and whilst brilliant for awareness and brand recognition actually results in a very temporary spike rather than real performance.

That’s not to say that viral marketing doesn’t work – in fact quite the opposite, think ALS’ Ice Bucket Challenge or 3’s Pony Dance (tiny Shetland ponies? Ring any bells?) great examples of original content that caught the imagination of the public. It’s the originality of content that really struck a chord with their target audiences which were huge – in fact any one of us could have donated to ALS and anyone with a phone could have switched to 3.

Social Ice Bucket

Unlike 3 or ALS most small businesses have a fairly well-defined target audience and want to create long standing (read recurring revenue) relationships not short term laughs or shares. Originality then really should mean solving problems in a new way, producing content that helps your audience in their world, not yours – authentic, real world content will drive real engagement both online and in person without the need for gimmicks (or ponies). Giving away helpful and original content may seem like a contradiction but actually starts conversations and builds relationships with your audience in a way that simply promoting products simply cannot.

Back to our world for a moment (shameless plug warning). Business owners that need to plan for performance tell us that our Demand Funnel Builder is a powerful planning tool that helps them increase conversions, increase marketing effectiveness and grow revenues. Just one example of original problem-solving content in practice

Social Media for SME’s Action 3 – Start a Conversation

This is one of our favourites, and one that you can start from today, take a look at your posts and ads. How many of them encourage your audience to interact with you? How many of them ask questions and invite responses? If the answer is none or very few then don’t be surprised if you’re getting very little engagement.

We’re all social creatures and guess what we love to talk – ask a question or pose a topic and chances are people will have an opinion on it – after all that’s a key part of what makes social platforms successful. Businesses should be no different, if you want to engage your audience why would you simple talk at them? Building a two way conversation can be time consuming and really does need you to reply and comment in the same way you would with a real conversation but it’s 100% worth it. Two or three answers could spark a much wider social media conversation helping you reach valuable people without paying for the privilege.

Social Media for SME’s Action 4 – Connect your Social to your Business

We care more than ever about the businesses that we buy from be it; how responsible they are, how they treat their employees, what they do for charity or how well they’re doing. If we chose to buy from a business, then often we’ll want to share that experience with our peers and friends and social is a perfect place to do that.

Whilst large businesses can struggle to make an emotional connection with us as buyers, Small business, especially ones that we’re passionate about, can become significant relationships. We become invested in small businesses and are interested in both their progress and successes – so our 4th action is to share your business with your audience.

Instead of posting that new product picture or sharing that boring infographic think about what’s going on in your world, did you just make a great new hire? Introduce them on social. Did you just win an award? Share it – and thank your customers that made it happen. You get the picture, authentic, warm content that people want to share and be a part of.

Social Media for SME’s Action 5 – Connect your Social to your Employees

On a similar note, your employees (providing you have some!) are a huge resource that is often overlooked. Your employees should be some of your biggest advocates and can very quickly amplify your message to a potentially huge audience. For example, if you have 10 employees and each has 100 connections on 2 social networks that’s a potential audience of 2000 people that you’re currently not reaching. Better yet – the personal connection should mean their networks are more likely to share their content which should mean better engagement across the board.

On a side note it can be tricky to “encourage” your employees to share your social feeds and difficult to measure – tools like Slack, Teams etc are great options to both share content with your teams and encourage them to get involved in the conversation for themselves.

Social Media for SME’s Action 6 – Measure

We promised no complicated data talk and we’ll stick to it – but measurement is a massive part of achieving growth. Think about it in 3 areas:

  • Engagement
  • Action
  • What can you take to the bank?

Engagement should give you a good steer on how well your content is being received by your audience, look carefully at Likes, Shares and comments. Good share stats would suggest that your content is resonating well – lack of comments would suggest that you’re talking AT not WITH your audience. Simple tweaks to your posts, paid or organic with that in mind will help improve your results.

Actions should reflect how you engage with your audience. Do you want to bring them to your website? Buy directly? Something else? Measuring the efficacy of your CTA’s (calls to action) will give you a good steer on how your audience want to engage with you – measure and learn from them, put their preferences first (see action 1) and watch your performance grow.

What can you take to the bank? We ask ourselves that question with every social campaign we run for our clients. It’s a critical part of using social for growth, typically we’d recommend starting with attributing Clicks/ Enquiries/ Opportunities/ Won Deals to the hard work you put into social. Word of warning however just simply measuring by channel (Facebook/ LinkedIn etc) isn’t enough to help you learn and grow. Try measuring by content type, audience group and CTA – use UTM’s (if you’re not familiar with UTM’s give us a call – we have a free tool that can help!) to keep track of each variable and the impact on what you can really take to the bank.

Social Media for SME’s Action 7 – Proof and Trust

According to Adwhite 90% of buyers read online reviews before visiting a business. Social can be an amazing tool to both garner and share your customers great experiences – if you use TrustPilot or Feefo and collect reviews online even better, share them directly on your social feeds. Making this a regular part of your social strategy not only reinforces your brand image and positive engagement but by tagging and openly thanking your teams for their great work gives you a great opportunity to engage your teams also.

Collecting reviews can be a bit more tricky but by using questions and real conversations with your audience you’d be surprised at how much people want to help the small businesses that they use.

Social Media for SME’s Action 8 – No one size fits all

Ok here’s the bad news, social media is an ever-changing landscape. New features pop up, new trends emerge and as a small business owner it can be difficult to keep up and maintain performance once you have it. Our final tip is to stay curious, dig into your measurements regularly and question what’s really happening. Check out your ad groups, audiences and organic feeds as if you were starting out on day one and come back to our top tips to sense check your strategy for success. After all, growth takes work and dedication – it’s what we do everyday here at The Demand Generation team.

If you’ve liked what you’ve read then feel free to share this blog with the world or if we can help then give us a call – we’d love to talk.

Posted by Helen Brookes on Sunday 17th January 2021