Once upon a time, long ago (circa 2008) we splashed our small business offerings all over social media to an engaged and eager following. We were present in our follower’s feeds, and we were celebrating these exciting FREE tools with which to directly promote our business to our most loyal and relevant customers. Those were the days.
Today, social media success for small business is far from simple and clean cut. Almost daily we hear from frustrated small business owners sinking endless time and effort into their social media channels, and experiencing little engagement and return. Is it worth the time?
Gratefully, we can confirm that business pages on social media are still very much a viable, worthwhile and lucrative investment – perhaps even more so than the good old days. However, in the digital battle against algorithms, noisy competitors, and an audience that is becoming increasingly desensitised to EVERYONE’s promotional efforts, there is a process behind ensuring your content cuts through.
Here are our top insider tips from the social media marketing professionals who live and breathe these online community giants. Golden actionable tips every small business marketer can follow to amp up your presence, and reach an audience that matters.
Today we’ll be focusing on Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram. If you’d like up-to-the-minute tips and insights on another social channel, we’re more than happy to oblige – please leave us your comments.
Social Media Marketing is all about your audience
The first and most critical step is to choose your channels wisely. Deep thinking about your customer profile and behaviour is essential to planting your business right when and where your ideal customer spends their time online.
Your buyer persona should be as detailed as possible. Please don’t be tempted to market to everyone just because you’d accept any customer, focus your efforts on the precise profile that you best serve. They are going to be the most interested in your offerings.
Create buyer personas and choose your channels based on where your customers spend their time on social. Our friends at Hubspot have created a fun free buyer persona tool to help you research and develop your customer avatar.
Match your characters to the channels frequented by a similar demographic, and you have yourself the beginning of a strategy.
Facebook User Demographics
Facebook reigns supreme when it comes to popularity and global reach. With over 2.27 billion monthly active users, you’re bound to find your audience frequenting the platform.
According to Social Media News in June 2019, there are approximately 15 million active Australia users on Facebook monthly. That’s approximately 60% of the total population of our wide sunburnt country. See the stats below:
Facebook Demographics in Australia
|Age Bracket||Number of Australians|
|13 – 17||940,000|
|18 – 25||3,500,000|
|25 – 39||6,100,000|
|40 – 55||4,100,000|
|56 – 64||1,600,000|
*approx numbers of total users, not all necessarily active over the last month
Global data from Sprout Social shows that in terms of gender, the female user base is 54% while men account for 46%. Across various education and income demographics, the spread is fairly even.
Australian Instagram Demographics
Unlike Facebook, Instagram gives us a clearer picture of the majority demographics frequenting the platform. Showing impressive growth Instagram now has over 8 million visitors in an average of four weeks, up from 5.6 million only four years ago. Are your products or services visually appealing? Are you targeting an audience between 13 and 54yrs? If you answered yes…then you should warm up your hashtags.
|Age Bracket||Number of Australians|
|Generation Z (13-24)||68%|
|Generation Y (25-39)||52%|
|Generation X (40-54)||32%|
|Baby Boomers (55-75)||15%|
Source – Roy Morgan
Gender presence across Instagram is 39% Female and 30% Male. Majority of users are in urban or suburban locations, and as with Facebook, attendance on the platform is fairly even across various income levels. Sprout Social US data shows that 78% of Instagram users have some formal education compared to 29% of Instagrammers with a high school education or less.
Australian LinkedIn User Demographics
Social Media News reports there are approximately 5 ½ million active monthly LinkedIn users in Australia. There are over 10 million registered users in Australia, and 467 million registered users worldwide.
The professional social network is the most popular social media platform for Fortune 500 companies. Globally, 61 million users are senior-level influencers, and 40 million users are in decision-making positions. 44% of LinkedIn users are women.
94% of B2B marketers use LinkedIn. Articles between 1,700 and 2,100 words receive the most shares.
Choose Social Media Content Wisely
Your next consideration is the type of content you should share on social media to resonate with and provide value to your customer. This can be tricky. All internet users are subjected to a barrage of marketing wherever they look, both on and offline. We are accustomed to free, quality content and comprehensive product research at our fingertips. Selling something on social media has become tough.
Social listening is as important as content creation. Observe some real-life customer profiles on social media, what types of content do they interact with the most?
You will also gain a lot of insight through competitor research in this regard. Choose popular leading businesses in your industry, and study their successes (and failings). Note the content they are sharing that gets the most engagement with their audience – and those that do not. Also, take note of how often they post, and to which channels.
You should now have an idea of the type of content you might create for the various channels, and your posting frequency.
What styles of content for your customers and brand?
Write informative, entertaining and engaging articles around topics poignant to your industry that your customers are interested in. Your writing should be aimed at a purpose for your customers and yourself. People enjoy relevant inside info as an expert in your field that helps them with a question or a problem – don’t you? The more interesting your article is, the more likely it is to be appreciated and shared. Don’t be afraid to ask for your customer’s support…hey, if you like this article, share it!
Video is by far the most-watched and responded to content on the web. In our hectic, time-poor schedules, video is easy to digest and more personable. Because there is so MUCH video content on the web, creating an eye-catching, quality production is important to help you stand out. Audiences love ‘how to’ videos and behind the scenes footage from their favourite brands and personalities. Video is a great way to help your social community to get to know you and your team, and demonstrate how you can help them (but don’t be too salesly).
Live streaming has taken the internet by storm. Facebook, Instagram, and just recently LinkedIn all offer a live stream facility. Audiences love the real-time authenticity of live video – there’s no time like the present. You could leverage a live stream to showcase a new product or event, hold a competition or a Q&A, and engage with your community in real-time.
Text & Images
Across social, video content is shared 12 x more than text and image posts combined. However, on a professional platform such a LinkedIn, a simple text question on a hot industry topic can spark a great discussion. The platform is nowhere near as noisy as Facebook, asking questions can provide valuable engagement with your peers and potential customers. Instagram does this well, with it’s ‘poll’ sticker which you can put on your Instagram stories. It leverages engagement, real-time results and other features like influencers being able to hold Q&As with their followers.
Subscribe to blogs, magazines and online media related to your industry. Share popular content to your social channels ensuring it will be of interest and value to your customers. Add your own comments and opinion, and try to spark a discussion with your audience around the topic.
If it’s trending and even mildly relates to your business and/or customers, create content around it! Get amongst the discussion on the platforms leveraging hashtags around popular topics. If something is of interest to your customers, you should be talking about it too. This can take a little lateral thinking to effectively relate a trending topic to your brand.
One of our very own ‘lives outside the box’ content Guru’s here at Anchor noticed a growing interest in Marie Kondo’s ‘KonMari method’ of decluttering and organising. She suggested an article for one of our clients – a National Removalist company – on using the KonMarie method to declutter and reorganise your home BEFORE you move. This makes for a smoother move and a clean, fresh new start in your new home.
Soon after we published, Marie was featured in her own Netflix show and she exploded in popularity globally. Our article quickly became one of the most visited pages on our clients’ website, driving qualified, engaged and regular traffic to their site.
Now that’s good thinking.
Customer Testimonials & Case Studies
The best content is created by the most valuable people for your brand – your existing customers. Your happy customers are your greatest and most powerful ambassadors. Video testimonials are deemed a trustworthy endorsement. Work with your loyal fan base as much as possible. Create case studies about members of your brand community, and how they are applying your products or services to make their life/work/business better. Always make your customer the hero of the story.
Guides, White Papers and eBooks
“How to” is one of the most searched phrases on the internet. Think about what the biggest pain points are for your customers. What problems can you help solve? If you sell a product, what free content can you give to your customers to help them get the most out of their purchase, and remain a loyal customer? Most businesses will have at least 5 FAQ’s their customers repeatedly ask. Turn your expertise into a resource that will help your customers, and build their trust in your authority and brand. Offer your content as a free download or consider capturing your customer’s email first with an opt-in to your mailing list.
The content go-to for coaches, trainers, influencers and entrepreneurs. Reach a wider audience, capture their details, and demonstrate why they should be buying what you’re selling. Depending on your current following, webinars can be a great lead generation and branding tool – giving your audience a sneak peek of your expertise and offerings before they commit. Or they can be a sellout ticketed box office event. Most marketing webinars provide free valuable information followed by a Q&A. The perfect opportunity to showcase your expertise, build trust, and interact with a captive audience.
Podcast / Audio posts
While podcasts have been making audio waves for a long time, this form of media is widely considered the ‘new radio.’ The convenience and value of tuning into FREE insights from leaders on a topic of your choice, is content gratefully consumed; it’s relevant, quality content on demand. Podcasts and audiobooks are perfect for busy listeners on the commute to work, or as they exercise. Podcasts are easier to absorb than reading, and audiences can still multitask.
Podcasting is particularly powerful for Entrepreneurs, Consultants, B2B Companies, and Service-Based Businesses. Sharing valuable tips and expert advice to your audience helps to elevate your personal and professional brand and influence. If you haven’t already, subscribe to one of the top podcasts in your industry, and start with the most popular episodes. You’re likely to glean some great content inspiration and will probably learn a thing or two. Better yet, strike up collaborations with other podcaster’s whose audience are potential customers, and interview each other. Your competitors are not always your enemy.
Develop a content strategy and calendar
So you’ve done your research and considered your brand, your customers and what’s suited to your chosen channels. The strategy has just begun. As with most things in business, organisation, forethought and careful planning is key to success.
Give yourself time to prepare and get your designs and strategy beautifully branded and mapped out. Plan your posts at LEAST one month ahead so you have time to develop and schedule your content, as well as map out the next month or so of content. Delegate tasks wherever you can.
Use a content calendar, preferably on a Google Sheets or other living document if you have staff or others updating and collaborating with you. If you have a LOT of content you may benefit from a planning or workflow platform such as Trello.
You’ll need to document the following:
- Date and times of posts (be sure to choose times and days suited to your audience)
- Type of content (detailed description) and post copy
- Date content is to be completed and scheduled
- Delegation to staff members/content creators
- Call to action/purpose of the post (eg. drive engagement, get more followers, click through to website)
It’s useful to colour code past posts in order of successful (or not) outcomes for future reference, you will soon begin to see patterns emerge that you can cross-reference with your data.
Choose a social media scheduling tool
With a decent social strategy, manually posting between your accounts will soon wear you thin. Choose a suitable social media tool that supports the channels you have chosen, and that you find intuitive and user-friendly.
Please proceed with caution, particularly with services that promise automation to artificially engage users through likes and follows. There have been some scheduling tools that didn’t toe the line by the social media giants’ strict bot and automation policies. We know of a few like MassPlanner and Instagress who were subsequently shut down – along with many of the accounts that were using them! We recommend keeping up to date with social media automation rules and sticking with well-known software officially supported by your social channels.
Different schedulers integrate with different channels, and they can vary greatly in usability. Most offer a 7 to 30 day free trial so you can try several options before you commit. Researching this can be tedious, but it’s worth taking your time to get it right. To help, here’s a comprehensive list of 90 social media scheduling tools.
Utilise software to help you create gorgeous content
If graphic design isn’t your thing never fear! Canva is here. Quickly and easily create on-brand imagery in the correct social sizings using your own images, or choose from a huge library of free or low priced images. Developed in Australia by Melanie Perkins and her partner in 2007, Canva is a simple drag and drop platform perfect for non-creatives.
If you’re looking for something with more advanced design tools Easil offers 1,000’s of fully customisable templates for social media, Instagram stories, infographics and more. Command attention with creative animated GIF’s and enjoy access to millions of free and paid stock images.
Video / Audio Editing Software
A Hubspot survey found that 85% of consumers want to see more video content from brands. Let’s give the people what they want! According to Tubular Insights, 64% of consumers will buy a product or service after watching a branded video on social media. BUT, before you grab your phone and start shooting…remember that quality trumps quantity, especially in a social feed filled with other videos.
Keep in mind that video can be used at every stage of the buyer journey, on your landing pages and website, in your e-blasts, and of course over social.
For these reasons you might consider professional videography and create six, or even twelve months worth of quality, professionally edited content in one go. With the rise of video popularity, a professional shoot has become much more cost-effective than ever before.
If you’d prefer to DIY, it’s worth looking into simple software such as Animoto or Headliner that can help make your video or podcast posts more visually appealing. Add features such as music, text overlays, images and audio waves.
2019 Facebook Marketing Tips For Small Business
Facebook is a versatile and valuable business tool for most industries. Users absorb and enjoy a diverse range of content across the platform, however, with 2 billion users, and the world’s brands all vying for their attention it is VERY noisy. Facebookers are becoming desensitised to all the advertising unless it is very targeted to their interests.
It’s getting harder and harder to appear in your follower’s feeds, Facebook will give preference to pages with consistent posting and highly engaged followers. Although they don’t like to admit it, evidence suggests the platform might give some organic preference to those who spend advertising dollars. 🤭
Recently Facebook opened up Groups to business pages. This is a great opportunity to participate in the communities where your target market is in bulk and actively engaged. Choose pages that DO have engaged active members, and offer your expertise, advice and support to members.
Limit shameless self-promotion and links (we’re all sick of that). Ask questions and encourage discussion to build trust, rapport and brand recognition. This is also the perfect place to ‘listen’ to what your customers are talking about. If there’s a common question or problem, create content around it, answer it, SOLVE it.
- Complete your profile and optimise your page with seamless branding, and the right CTA and tabs.
- Mix up your content styles and note what is best received
- Don’t over-promote and annoy your audience. According to sprout social 86% of social users follow a brand, but nearly 60% are annoyed with too many promotions.
- Create compelling videos and helpful or informative live stream content
- Keep an eye on your competitors’ successes and failures
- Engage with your audience, thank them, ask questions – show they are valuable
- Always respond professionally to reviews – good and bad
- Post with purpose. Ensure you have a clear plan and CTA for your content
- Join relevant Facebook Groups with engaged and active members
- Share user-generated content and topics relevant to your audience’s interests
- Take advantage of audience insights and analytics
- Promote popular posts and leverage Facebook advertising to reach an insanely targeted audience.
- Run simple contests or polls…but follow the rules carefully
- Use emojis…appropriately, hashtags are not so relevant here
- Be responsive and nurture your audience 🤗
2019 Instagram Marketing Tips for Small Business
Is your product visually appealing? If Instagram is a platform where your customers frequent, you may need to be a little creative here. A Coke can on its own isn’t a very exciting image, but apparently, some cooky artwork and wacky videos are. In an ever-increasingly health-conscious world, 2.5million followers are pretty impressive.
Take a look at Allbirds for example. They make comfortable, sustainable, not particularly pretty shoes out of Merino Wool. They are an environmentally friendly company with a pop-culture vibe. Their target market is most certainly on Instagram; but how many eye-catching ‘Insta-worthy’ images could they possibly create out of comfy woollen shoes? Some of their most popular posts might surprise you.
User-generated content is a winner on Instagram. For example, if you run a recipe blog, the likelihood is that your Instagram followers are also posting recipe creations. Reach out and ask if you can re-post your followers’ (and ideal customers’) content and credit them in their great work! Everyone loves a bit of love on social, your followers will feel valued and respected by your brand (and you get free content!).
- Observe what your competitors are doing well
- Don’t limit your images to your product or service – be customer-centric
- Decide on your Insta aesthetic and ensure visual appeal and consistency
- Keep descriptions short, sweet and compelling
- Include a CTA in your descriptions
- Follow and engage with your target market – like their stuff!
- Invite collaborations with relevant influencers
- Use emojis and leverage hashtags like there’s no tomorrow
- Consider sponsoring popular posts to reach a wider audience
- Be responsive and super-cool 😎
2019 LinkedIn Marketing Tips for Small Business
LinkedIn is a totally different beast. This professional platform is best utilised as a collaboration tool, a space within which to learn from and connect with influencers and market leaders and to develop influence and brand recognition within your industry. It’s also an avenue within which to find great staff. LinkedIn is the place to be if you’re in B2B, and not the arena within which to meme – unless meme-ing is your profession… I digress.
The biggest mistake business owners make with their LinkedIn profiles is to set it up as an electronic resume, rather than how you help your customers. Consumers don’t actually care about you and how many awards you’ve won (sorry), they care about how you can help THEM.
Ensure your value proposition is targeted and precise; call out your customer persona and let them know what you can do for them, that gets their attention – only then will they be interested in your achievements and experience. For example, “We help restaurant owners 10x customer retention and profit margin through the use of affordable promotional technology.”
Business pages have historically been a battle on LinkedIn, with users preferring to engage with the humans behind the brand; people buy from people after all. However, LinkedIn has been rolling out updates to business pages in an effort they will be more utilised. So there’s no harm in setting up a business page and sharing content to it as you post, but don’t get discouraged if there are a lack of followers to your page – focus on making great relevant connections and gaining followers on your personal profile.
- Optimise your profile copy to be customer-centric in your summary, don’t use LinkedIn as an electronic resume
- Use keywords in your headline to appear in relevant search results (conduct a search yourself and see who shows up for your profession.)
- Podcasts, long-form articles (1700 – 2000+ words) and self-starring video content is most enjoyed by LinkedIn users
- Ask questions in your post descriptions to encourage comments… rather than people getting away with a simple like. Professionals are more likely to share content they have engaged with and offered their own ideas
- Leverage the direct LinkedIn article function as it notifies your followers when you post (and LinkedIn is a mini search engine in itself). Include up to eight images in your articles
- Share your LinkedIn articles to other social media from your profile
- Join relevant business groups and communities and share your content amongst your peers
- Create, but don’t dwell on your business page performance – develop followers and connections to your personal profile
- Connect with relevant customers, but avoid message spamming them. Allow them to get to know you and appreciate your content, develop meaningful connections
- Invite collaborations with others relevant to your industry, such as guest blogs or podcasts
- Be responsive, and celebrate those in your field that are doing great things! 👏
5 Must Do’s For Social Media Business Pages
Regardless of your content or chosen channels, these are our top five MUST DO’s in order to amp up your following and craft a lucrative social presence.
- Every piece of content must serve a purpose and aim to elicit a certain action, feeling or response from your audience. Objectives can include; likes, comments and shares, click through to your website or landing page, engage in a discussion, enter a competition, subscribe to your mailing list, encourage new followers, download resources, request a quote, make an enquiry, or make a sale. If you want your audience to perform a certain action…tell them! Include a call to action at the end of your videos and/or within your descriptions. Make your content valuable and your purpose clear.
- Test, track and analyse everything. Observe the social analytics data, and integrate social with Google Analytics via tracking codes. This will give you a clearer picture of the success of your post vs the ultimate goal. Perhaps few people like or comment on your post; but many clicked through to your website – if that is your goal, then the post is a success; but it may not seem so at face value.
- Study your reports regularly. If a particular post performs well, note it in your calendar and aim to re-share, and/or create similar content in the future. Data is everything in digital marketing, it is the ultimate feedback from your audience on what they do, and don’t enjoy. If a valuable article doesn’t perform, you might try posting it with an alternative feature image or headline to see if it better captures audience attention.
- Audit, optimise and improve. Ensure your branding is consistent across all social channels and geared towards your customer’s preferences. Complete your profiles and use as many features as possible. Organise Facebook tabs and calls to action in a way that it makes sense to your consumers. If you’re pitching to a younger audience, they’re most likely going to want to connect with you via message rather than email or visit your site. Make it easy for your audience to use the communication avenues they prefer to work with.
- BE RESPONSIVE! We can’t stress this enough, engagement speaks loudly to algorithms and humans. If people comment on your posts, thank them! And if appropriate, ask a question to keep them talking. If users send you a message, respond as quickly as possible. If you’re left a Google or Facebook review – whether good or bad, ensure you reply appropriately. Never enter into an argument with a bad review even when they’re wrong, just acknowledge the complaint professionally, and do your best to resolve it. This level of customer service (as challenging as it can be at times) will speak volumes to all of your customers.
- Keep learning and don’t give up! Become a student of social media, this landscape changes as often as our shoes. Take a social media crash course, attend webinars, subscribe to a popular social marketing podcast. You might be among the first in your industry to discover and adopt the next big trend.
You too have a world of resources at your fingertips. If it all becomes too much (which, is extremely common and understandable for busy business owners) enlist professional assistance to lighten the burden. A social media presence is critical in today’s world as you know – but it’s no longer as easy to shine out there.