10 Commandments of Social Media for Small Business
Social media for small business doesn't come with a rule book or user manual. Most small business owners are either blazing their own trail and experimenting their way to success, or hiring services to help them navigate the 'Wild Wild West' of digital marketing. There are no right answers, but here are some tips that can help make it easier to grow your business using Social Media tools & tactics.
1. Be Yourself. Be Authentic. Be Human
Social media is an extension of word-of-mouth. People can connect and relate best to you and/or your business when they feel an authentic connection to the people behind it. Small businesses who are thriving on social media have found a way to connect with their audience in an authentic way.
2. Provide Value
Ask yourself "is this content answering a question your audience has"? If the answer is yes, then carry on providing great value and connecting with your audience. If the answer is "kind of" or "maybe" ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ... then STOP 🛑 ... do not pass Go ... do not collect $200. 😳
Take a moment to answer these questions before hitting publish:
- Why you feel motivated to post that particular piece of content? Is it for you or for your audience/customers/clients?
- Does it answer a question your audience has?
- Does it open an opportunity to connect on a more human or authentic level with your audienece?
3. Approach It As a Conversation, Not a Billboard
Communicate on Social Media as though you're starting a conversation instead of posting a billboard or newspaper ad. You have a message and your audience wants to hear it. The best way you can deliver that message is to connect in a human and relatable way.
4. Use Video. Just Do It Please 🙏
Don't be afraid. You can do this. I promise it gets easier to put yourself out there. If you're a larger business, I promise you it is worth the time & energy of coordinating with all departments including getting budget approval to create video. Ask for it. Fight for it. If you need numbers to back up the WHY of doing video, I'm happy to personally send you stats to help you make your case.
Nearly all social media channels serve up posts to users based on the platform's algorithm. Using Facebook as an example, video content - especially LIVE video - is favoured by Facebook's algorithm.
I think you get the idea.
You need all the help you can get when it comes to getting your content seen in the newsfeed. Once you start layering in paid advertising on social media, using tactics that help reach more people in the news feed will help your post get organic reach which, in turn, will help lower your CPC (cost per click) for your paid ads.
5. Cater To Your Target Audience
Pay attention to the types of posts and content that your audience is responding to. Do you get more likes, comments, or shares when you post videos vs. photos? What about if you post links to interesting articles vs. inspirational quotes?
This is the part where I say there is no exact science on how and what to post on social media. There are best practices, tips, tricks, and tools that you can use, but what the best tool you have?? TESTING. 👈 That's right. Testing, and paying attention to what tactics are getting you results.
The crazy thing? Many business owners who are posting to social media notice when a certain topic or post type is getting them above average activity and interest, but they fail to leverage that tactic and instead stick to their set ways and ultimately lose out on prime opportunities to grow.
6. Use Tracking Codes On Your Website - Facebook Pixel & Google Remarketing Tag
Even if you have no idea what the Facebook Tracking Pixel or Google Remarketing Tag is or what they do, YOU NEED THEM NOW, not later. They collect valuable visitor data that you cannot backtrack to acquire at a later date. Installing these pieces of code in the header of your website now will allow you to start collecting data that you can then use at a later date to serve more relevant and appropriate content to user segments 1) when you need it, and 2) when you're at a more evolved state in your digital marketing journey to start serving up content strategically.
By waiting and avoiding installing tracking because you don't know how will only lead to more missed opportunities as your business starts to grow. This is one area that I do suggest asking for help and just getting it done.
This data is a business asset and should be treated as a valuable tool that will help your business grow, stay ahead, and not fall behind your competitors in the digital marketing landscape.
7. Respond in 12hrs or Less. You Can Do It!
Let's start you off at 12hrs or less to respond to social media comments or direct messages to your business. Once you find that you are consistently hitting this goal and it becomes an integrated part of your daily habits and routine, then try tightening up that timeline by responding in 4hrs or less. Eventually you will find it easier and easier to respond immediately to any online comments and inquiries coming your way.
My advice in this area: don't let yourself become overwhelmed. Don't put too much pressure on yourself, but do take the task seriously. Public perception on how responsive you are on social media does matter. Do your best, and you will find your response time improves easily over time.
I strongly recommend that you use a social media management tool at this point. These tools can exceed your expectations at making sure you never miss a comment or message and make it very easy to respond, even from your phone. After spending 2 years of testing and trying tools including Hootsuite, Buffer, Sproutsocial, SmarterQueue, and Meet Edgar, I personally have chosen to use Agorapulse as my go-to social media management tool. It is more robust and includes monitoring & listening, as well as full publishing and reporting for multiple networks.
8. Use Real Photos, Not Just Stock Photos
Stock photos. You know ... the kind of photos that look professional but yet completely empty and void of any real human connection? Yes. Those are the photos I want you to avoid please and thank you.
For example, which image would you be more inclined to stop and look at in your Facebook News Feed for this article? This generic stock image of a woman holding an instagram-worthy coffee mug??
9. Don't Copy. Use As Inspiration Instead.
Give credit where credit is due. Did you see someone else post something that you wish you had posted? Ask if you can share it, or if it is public, share their post and give credit where you can. Haliburton Life is a great example of an account that consistently gives credit for great user generated content.
10. Never Pay For Followers, Quick Fixes, Or Full Service 3rd Parties
Always make sure first and foremost that any service you may be using for posting on social media falls within the terms of service agreement for that platform. It's a fancy way of saying do your homework before auto-posting or using any type of shortcut. If you are using a service that breaches that contract - or in more plain language, breaks the rules - then you risk having your account shut down.
To add my personal opinion to this point, I have noticed with clients that when they have a member of their own team actively engaged in posting on social media, their audience engagement and post organic reach are both significantly higher vs. businesses relying solely on a third party to post for them. A healthy mix of both can be a great asset to help you consistently provide content on a regular basis, but you should never rely 100% on an automated service to do the heavy lifting for you.
11. Linking To Your Website Or A Link? Make Sure It is Mobile Friendly
Google favours it. Facebook favours it. Your followers favour it. It's time to get with the times and avoid being penalized for not having a mobile friendly website. Not sure if yours is? Test it here: https://search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly
12. Don't Be Afraid Of Using Emojis 🤔 🤓 😍
I dare ya. They won't bite. 😈 But what they may do is increase your ability to catch your audiences' attention span.
13. Remember To Link To Your Website In Appropriate Posts
Chances of your followers navigating to your Facebook Page to look up your website address on a random whim are slim. Really slim. What followers will do, however, is click on a link that you conveniently placed in that post that you are providing value in. Try it! We'll get into tracking those clicks with Google UTM Codes in another posts. 😎
14. Track Your Results
As you put these tips and commandments in action, the final critical piece is to track the results of your activity. “What’s measured improves!”
If you’re using just one or two networks, like a single Facebook Page, you can use Facebook’s built-in Insights plus a spreadsheet to make note of everything you’ve done and monitor it over time. Once you’ve added a few networks into the mix, leverage the tools with built-in reporting like Agorapulse to help keep track of everything and assemble meaningful reports that (or your clients) can benefit from.
When you are paying attention to the results from every post and piece of content, you’ll have a much better grasp of what works and what does not for your audience and your business.
I've been sharing so much love on my choice to go with AgoraPulse that they gave me an affiliate link. Feel free to check it out here!