How to grow a small business with Social Media

This blog post is a transcript from the Complete Small Business Show Episode 4 / Series 2 // How To Advertise A Small Business Online – How to grow a small business with Social Media.

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Gus Ryan:  So, Roisin, 2018 was a pretty tough year for social media when we consider the fake news, the Cambridge Analytica scandal, algorithm changes… based on all of that, is it still a good for SMEs to consider using social media?

Roisin Linnie (Head of Social at Wolfgang Digital):  Yeah, when you put it like that, that’s a lot of scandals that happened.

I would still say that social media is a great place for SMEs.

There were a lot of scandals, particularly on the Facebook side, but they honestly haven’t affected usage.

66% of Irish people still have a Facebook account and log in every day.

If you look at the other channels, as well, like Instagram is fast-growing, 39% of Irish people have an Instagram account, and 65% of those people who have log in every day.

Without being on social media, you’re going to find it very, very hard to get in front of people who may be interested in your product or service because that is still where people are spending a lot of their time. So yes, you should still consider using social media for your business.

Gus Ryan:  What type of activity should companies be doing on their social media pages?

Roisin Linnie:  Firstly, do you know who your audience is?

If you’ve no idea who your target audience is, then you’re going to run into issues with your social strategy. Once you know who your target audience is, you’ll then be able to see what you should post on social.

For example, if your audience is responding well to video content, and then obviously we recommend using content that relies heavily on video. It doesn’t have to be high-quality video either; video created on your phone is fine, whether it’s Instagram or Facebook it can still get loads of reach.

But ideally, you should try to mix it up between video content and written content. The main thing to keep in mind is that you’re being helpful to your customers, so you’re telling them something they want to know.

I would never suggest any social strategy just to post random stuff. I think you have to offer some value and if that means you’re posting less frequently, then that’s fine.

Little and often, be helpful, and mix it up between video, text, and images.

Gus Ryan:  And so, on social media, often engagements can be a big metric. So what are the real outcomes that businesses should be looking for from their social media activity?

Roisin Linnie:  I would try to map your outcomes or your KPIs (key performance indicators) to the marketing funnel, right?

So if you’re going to put out a piece of content that’s for awareness, like a video, what you’re looking to measure is reach and engagement of the post; how are people reacting to this piece of content.

If you have another piece of content that’s around somebody calling your business, or somebody sending you a message or a DM, then I would be looking at different metrics.

I’d be looking at click-through rate, click to call, whether they’re filling out the lead form.

It depends on what stage they’re at, but of course, the basic metrics are

  • reach
  • engagement
  • click-through rates
  • cost per clicks
  • traffic to your website
  • if it’s lead generation, then lead gen form fill out

What I would just keep in mind is that Facebook values quality engagements.

What I’m talking about there is people sharing your posts or people commenting on your posts with really nice long responses, so not just your typical one-word answers.

That’s what Facebook loves to see. You want to drive shares and comments in that upper-funnel activity.

Gus Ryan:  When people think about social media, they mainly think about the organic, non-paid or non-promotional posts. There’s a big difference between the organic and the paid, promotional ads. Can you just break down the big difference or what you can expect between the two?

Roisin Linnie:  Yeah. Organic social is, as you just said yourself, you post an image on your actual Facebook page, for example.

You don’t put any money behind it. That is an organic post.

Paid, then, is when you either promote the post in some way, whether it’s through boosting the posts from your page or whether it’s through creating an ad in Facebook Ads Manager.

Boosting the post is a very simple way to create an ad and get it out to a target audience, and Ads Manager is a little bit more complicated.

The difference is that when you put money behind your ad, of course, you’re going to get it in front of more people, but the biggest differences are that you can target it.

So instead of just posting a post out on Facebook and hoping it reaches 5% of your fans organically, let’s say, if you put even €5, €10 behind it, you can then tell Facebook who you want that post to be shown to.

You can’t have a great social strategy without paid promotion, unfortunately. It’s a tactic that all the social channels have implemented because they want to make money out of ads, but the advertising platform on Facebook is amazing and there’s so much opportunity to get great results.

I would recommend even dipping your toe in the paid advertising space by boosting a post on Facebook, putting €5 behind it, targeting people who are interested in your business and see what kind of results you get. It doesn’t have to be huge budgets.

I would just test it out and you’ll be amazed at the kind of results you might get.

Gus Ryan:  Between a Boost Post and using the Ads Manager platform on Facebook, which would you recommend or what’s the biggest difference between them?

Roisin Linnie:  The biggest difference is the targeting capabilities and how you can optimize the ad.

Boost Posts, you’re going to be able to get the age, location, gender, interest base, really great options to be honest, and it’s really easy.

It’s, literally, you just go onto your page, there’s a boost button, you click it, you put in who you want to target, the age, the amount of money you want to put on it, and it’s great, and there’s nothing wrong with that at all.

The Ads Manager, then, there’s so much more you can do on top of that, but it’s a much more advanced. You can target your website visitors, you can create the type of people who are similar to website visitors, you can find people who’ve recently purchased. There’s a whole different range of targeting options in Ads Manager, but it’s definitely for somebody who’s a bit more advanced.

If you’ve never done a Facebook ad before, start with the boost posts and see how you get on.

Then, as you get used to them, give Ads Manager a go. But it’s still quite simple to use, but a lot more targeting options, and you would need a little bit of experience.

Gus Ryan:  Okay. We’ve talked, obviously, a lot of values, Facebook. Some people might have more personal preferences for maybe Twitter or Instagram. How, as a social platform for a business, how do they rank or would you recommend using those?

Roisin Linnie:  It depends what industry you’re in, like for food, fitness, lifestyle, fashion, retail, Instagram is great.

The main thing with Instagram is nice images and nice video. Instagram is all about showing off high-quality images. Instagram Stories is a bit more behind the scenes, but the Instagram Feed is certainly more polished.

Twitter is kind of an odd one, it ranges across all industries.

The ad platform on Twitter isn’t as easy as boosting posts on Instagram and Facebook, but certainly there’s lots of opportunity with Twitter, especially if you want to generate conversation onto Hashtags, or you want to kind of jump into a conversation that’s already happening, or there’s an event on, Twitter is great for that.

Twitter is more reactive, so you have to post a lot more frequently. You have to be on it a lot more. You have to see what’s trending, see what people are talking about and try and kind of jump in on the conversation.

I’d say, if you’re going to be on any platform, though, Facebook still is the most widely used, but my number one recommendation would be don’t go on all of them, just stick to one and commit to it, and then you can expand once you’re comfortable with it.

Gus Ryan:  Okay. So lots of good stuff there about what we should be doing. Just give us a couple of things that we shouldn’t do.

Roisin Linnie:  Shouldn’t do… don’t post every single day because you’ve read an article that says you need to post 20 times a week on Twitter and 17 times a week on Facebook.

Keep bringing it back to what does your customer want and how you can help them through what you’re saying on social media.

If that means you’ve got one Facebook post a week and two tweets a week, I think that’s fine, especially if you’re going to have some ad promotions with some budget behind it, it’s quality over quantity. Less is more.

You will see a lot of people saying you need to post loads on social media. I just think that’s the wrong strategy because what people end up doing is they just post content for content’s sake, and it gets no reach, and do you want the risk of losing followers and losing engagement.

So, good helpful quality content, and putting a little bit of budget around it, and in front of the right audience and you should be fine.

A few other “don’ts” would be, think of the copywriting, speak in a very natural tone, and don’t say too much.

If you’re posting on Facebook, keep it to one or two sentences, people will not read long paragraphs on social media anymore.

If you’re posting video, don’t make it too long, under 15 seconds is perfect. Again, attention spans are limited on social media, and your creative is massively important and that’s something I can’t stress enough.

There’s no point in putting a lot of time and effort into social media if it all falls at the creative stage. If you have a poor image or a video that you can’t really see what’s going on, or you can’t hear it properly… the creative is important, just make sure it’s eye-catching and interesting to people.

A good way to think about is, is it thumb-stopping? Is it something that someone scrolling on social media, is it going to grab their attention and make them stop?

Gus Ryan:  Okay, Ro, lots of good stuff there. Can you just give us three key takeaways for SMEs looking to get onto social media for their business?

Roisin Linnie:  Yeah. Okay. Three takeaways would be…

1. The first one is to promote your posts and start with small budgets. I know for some businesses might be like, “We can’t put a lot of money into the ads,” but I would even recommend €10 a week if you can start small and test out different audiences. Social media is just really, really difficult to get following and engagement without putting paid promotion behind it, and a small amount can get you huge results.

2. The next tip would be, let’s say if you’re targeting people interested in broadband, maybe the next time you put another €10 behind people targeting mobile phones, for example. By doing that, you’re testing your audiences, you’re going to find out what’s working and then you can put more budget behind what works.

3. Another tip I would have is something called promoting your unicorn posts.

In your Facebook insights, Twitter insights, you should be able to see what posts are performing the best, so what’s driving the most engagement organically, right? The ones that are driving the highest engagement through organic, like maybe one got 10 likes and another one got two, the one that got the 10 likes, that’s the one you want to promote. So you’re promoting the ones that are already driving better interaction organically. They’re the ones you want to push out with a little bit of budget.

4. Another tip I would have is just to be clear on who your target audience is and what you want to achieve with social media.

A lot of people go on social media because they think they should. But, the first question is, who are you targeting and are they on social media? And if so, what do you want to achieve? Do you just want to reach them or do you want to engage with them? Or do you want to drive leads because then your strategy is going to change?

So yeah, I think to have a really clear picture of who the target audience is and what you want social media to do for your business. Some people want to use social media to drive leads, drive traffic, but other people are happy to just drive conversation and engagement on social media.

Once you know what you want to do, then the content you post, and what metrics you’re looking at, and what posts you want to promote, that will all fall into place afterwards.

Gus Ryan:  Brilliant. Roisin Linnie, thanks a million.

Roisin Linnie:  Thank you.