The Basics of Social Media Marketing for SMBs - Access Marketing Company

The Basics of Social Media Marketing for SMBs

Using social media is a growing priority for small businesses, in fact, 96% of owners and marketers are active participants. Despite this, approximately half of SMBs report the development of social media strategy and aligning social activities with business outcomes is a challenge. It isn’t social media usage that’s an issue for SMBs, it’s getting a measurable return on that usage.
Linking social media efforts to business goals requires a thorough command of the basics of social media marketing. But we need to qualify the word “basics.” Setting up an account, scheduling updates, joining groups, commenting on posts and sharing content are indeed “basics” of the social media game. However, SMB owners and marketers often have less social media bandwidth and resources than their enterprise-level counterparts and need the tools to be smarter with their investments and more impactful with their efforts. To optimize their social media investments and get more return from their efforts, SMBs need to approach the basics of social media marketing in new, more strategic ways.

Choosing the Right Platform

There’s no science to choosing the best social media platform for a business, but there are some key best practices SMBs should keep in mind. First and foremost, SMBs should be mindful about where their audience is, which likely varies depending on if they’re a B2B or B2C company. A recent study found that LinkedIn was the priority platform for B2Bs, while over half of B2C companies focused on Facebook. Generally speaking, B2C businesses usually thrive on platforms with broader audiences, like Facebook or Instagram, platforms usually used the most during the weekend. These platforms give them the ability to be flexible, visual and fun and are less specific to industries or professional segments. On the other hand, B2B companies tend to get more traction on a platform like LinkedIn or Twitter, where they can engage specific industry and employee groups in the middle of the work week. The most important consideration SMBs should make before investing in a particular platform is considering who they want to interact with and where they most likely are on social media.

Social Media Channels for SMBs

  • B2B: LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook
  • B2C: Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat

Shooting for Value Distribution, Not Content Distribution

When distributing content on social media, SMBs should meditate on one word: value. When considering the basics of social marketing, small businesses should always aim to distribute content that provides as much value as possible.
First, it’s important for SMBs to keep the “4:1” rule in mind. That is, 25% of the content shared should originate from the business, such as promotions, press releases, white papers, and 75% should be curated from complementary sources that aren’t direct competitors, things like a blog posts, articles or videos. By varying the sources of their content, SMBs both save themselves the time and investment of repeatedly generating original content and avoid turning off prospects with a singular, “me-first” social media presence.
It’s also important for SMBs to vary the content and media formats they distribute as well as the funnel stages they distribute that content to. Whitepapers are often high-value assets designed to educate a top-of-the-funnel audience. If a business only promotes whitepapers, they may zero in on an audience segment who loves whitepapers, but they may also miss an opportunity to engage another segment who prefers another type of content. In addition, after that top-of-the-funnel audience has been educated on the business and is ready to progress down the funnel, they may require a different type of content to get the information they need, such as a product how-to guide or a case study. Varying content formats and making sure they’re engaging audiences at different stages of the funnel helps SMBs make better opportunities from their split-second social media interactions.

The Basics of Content Distribution on Social Media

  • Follow the “4:1” rule – 25% original content, 75% curated
  • Vary content formats – articles, infographics, videos, etc.
  • Distribute content for different stages of the funnel – whitepapers, how-to guides, promotions, case studies

Mastering the Art of Social Selling

Social media platforms are a valuable extension of a business’ sales force – if they engage their audiences correctly. A salesperson who walks up to customers with a sales pitch of “Ready to buy? Ready to buy? Ready to buy?” may close a few eager customers, but may turn off the majority who aren’t yet ready to buy. Advertising products and promoting discounts may help SMBs capture the low-hanging fruit in their social media networks. But paying attention to prospects’ behaviors and noting what types of content they’re sharing and interacting with can shade valuable light on what to promote, whether it ends up being a product or something more top-of-the-funnel like a whitepaper or e-book. This type of social media insight also gives SMBs the insights to better target their advertisements and promotions based on what their audiences are interested in.

The Basics for Social Selling

  • Gate content with lead capture forms
  • Engage networks with comments and replies
  • Advertise products to specific groups and audiences

Promoting Thought Leadership

Thought leadership is one of the most overlooked basics of social media marketing – mostly because it is time consuming to do correctly. Luckily, social media platforms are the convention center of the 21st century. They give SMB owners and marketers greater opportunities to join conversations, lend insights and share expertise with audiences they don’t regularly engage with. Features like LinkedIn Pulse and Twitter Chat enable professionals to connect with key influencers – not to mention, become influencers themselves – simply by joining or starting conversations. As they should with their content distribution, small business professionals should vary their thought leadership tactics, making a point to promote complementary services and thought leaders in their industry as much as they share their own ideas and expertise.

Basics for Thought Leadership on Social Media

  • Contribute to industry conversations, groups and networks – LinkedIn Pulse, Twitter Chat
  • Promote thought leadership from complementary influencers

Social media is an exciting opportunity for small businesses to capitalize on networking and audience engagement. As platforms become more integral to SMB sales and marketing investments and an increasing amount of businesses file into the social media world, SMBs need to become much more strategic and purposeful in how they leverage social media. In this way, the basics of social media marketing must evolve past being to-do’s for getting content posted and soliciting “likes” and become core marketing fundamentals SMBs can implement to drive business and accomplish goals.

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