There are social media platforms for every niche and interest nowadays. From the big four of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube to newer platforms like TikTok and Twitch, businesses have more opportunities than ever before to reach consumers with their message.
Take Shein, for example. The online retailer has built a massive following on Instagram by sharing images of their products in action, often using influencers to promote them. Fenty Beauty took a similar approach on Snapchat, using short video clips to show off their products in use. And Dollar Shave Club built an empire by creating hilarious videos that went viral on YouTube.
So what can small businesses learn from these examples? Here are some tips for using social media to grow your business:
Not every social media platform is right for every business. Facebook is great for businesses with a lot of information to share, like a restaurant with a lengthy menu or a car dealership with lots of models to choose from.
Instagram is perfect for businesses with beautiful products or images, like a fashion brand or a travel company.
And Twitter can be great for businesses that want to connect with customers in real time, like a hotel or an airline.
Your followers will lose interest quickly if all you do is post promotional content. Mix things up by posting images, videos, and articles that are interesting and relevant to your audience.
Take advantage of social media features like Stories and Live video to add variety to your content mix.
Social media is the perfect place to connect with potential and current customers. Respond to comments and questions quickly, and take the time to get to know your followers.
The more you interact with them, the more likely they are to become loyal customers.
Social media is always changing, so it’s important to stay up to date on the latest trends.
Platforms like Snapchat and TikTok are constantly introducing new features, and platforms like Facebook and Instagram are always updating their algorithms.
As well as keeping an eye on the new features being introduced by the social media platforms themselves, it’s just as important to keep abreast of trends being set by users, and other businesses, too. Here’s what should be on your radar:
Live video is becoming more and more popular, and it’s no surprise why.
It’s a great way to connect with your followers in real time and give them a behind-the-scenes look at your business. Related to this, short-form video has taken off in a big way, and though TikTok leads the way, the other big players were quick to introduce their own takes on the trend, with Instagram — via Reels — and YouTube's 'Shorts' just a couple of examples.
Your customers' time is valuable, and video continues to prove to be just as engaging as ever — find creative ways to sell while also respecting people's time and you'll be on to a winner.
Influencer marketing is becoming more and more popular, and it’s no surprise why.
Influencers are a great way to reach your target audience and promote your brand or product. But it’s important to choose the right influencers for your business and make sure they align with your values. Get it right and it'll be a match made in heaven.
Of course, you're always running the risk of second-hand negative PR thanks to a misjudged post that goes viral, so certainly weigh up whether you're willing to give up a bit of brand control in return for the clout an individual can bring — and have a plan in place should things go sideways.
With the pandemic forcing people indoors and increasingly online, a growing number of businesses turned to social channels in order to maintain contact with their customers through trying times.
Many brands also found new and inventive ways to sell their products, and with social media platforms building out ecommerce tools to help them do just that, new — and thriving — sales channels blossomed, with the signs suggesting this trend is destined for continued rapid growth.
Social media and customer service now go hand in hand, thanks in large part due to the fact customers have grown to expect timely responses to their comments, queries or complaints — something that, say, a call centre or email contact form couldn't guarantee them.
It's also true that a heavy handed or downright dismissive instance of customer 'support' can easily damage a brand's reputation; as the number of people turning to social media for customer service grows, so too does the pile of digital banana peels, waiting for brands to slip up on.
Of course, these shouldn't be an issue for responsible and considerate small businesses who value their customers, but it is worth acknowledging that the playing fields have been levelled somewhat and that investing resources (be that time or money) into social support simply cannot be an afterthought for a modern business.
This one's controversial, but it's also undeniably worth keeping your eye on. How often do you drop in on brands hosting chats via Twitter Spaces? Chances are, not very often, but take it from someone who's spent some time hanging out in these audio environments when I say they can be just as interesting and enjoyable as podcasts — an auditory offering you may be far more familiar with.
Also, do remember Clubhouse? During lockdowns, the app had huge buzz, racing to four million users in a matter of months, despite initially being invite only. The appeal was understandable enough — joining a group of likeminded people to listen in on conversations surrounding topics you care about, hosted by others whose opinion you appreciate.
Clubhouse is still going, despite that early buzz undeniably wearing off, and the truth is there's every chance Spaces could go the way of Fleets, Twitter's take on time-limited, disappearing tweets that was quietly shut down in 2021 (less than a year after launch).
It is, however, worth bearing in mind that plenty of mediums we now take for granted in everyday life — social media itself, for example — experienced a number of failed starts before taking off. Get in early, remain consistently valuable and you've got a good chance of building a healthy, loyal and organic community for your brand.
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