If you’re a small business owner trying to implement a marketing strategy in 2017, you’ve probably noticed that things can get a bit…chaotic.
Your small business is doing the best it can. But every time you seem to catch up to the latest techniques and methods, it seems like two more features pop up that change the industry all over again.
Let’s get one thing straight: social media is changing every day and shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. There will always be new tools to implement.
And there will always be a learning curve when it comes to both using them and determining what is the best choice for your audience.
Instead of chasing the latest update or feature, we’ve decided to help you identify some of the more common social media marketing issues that are likely plaguing your small business.
Storytelling is a massive component of an effective social media marketing strategy. To understand why, let’s take a look at one of social media marketing’s biggest buzzwords: engagement.
Engagement has taken on a very technical definition over the years. Marketing specialists like to debate what metrics actually determine engagement, but metrics are hardly all that engagement is.
Ignoring the analytical definition of engagement for just a moment, let’s look at it from the perspective of storytelling. To avoid getting too abstract, we’ll say this:
Finding new tools to connect with your audience is great. But actually executing with those tools is what defines successful marketing strategies.
It’s no one’s fault that social media marketing has quite a bit of poor storytelling. Truth be told, poor storytelling makes sense if you consider a traditional advertising perspective. And that’s kind of the problem.
When you look at social media marketing through too narrow of a lens, you end up missing out. You ignore one of the major reasons why social is so important to small businesses today: branding.
Don’t get me wrong—branding certainly has an analytics, metrics-based side (something we’ll be discussing below). Analytics matter. But so does having a distinct personality on social media.
You need to have something that’s so unmistakably “your business” that people can’t help but be compelled by your social media presence.
It’s not easy to build an impressive, impactful brand. But it’s certainly never going to happen if you don’t make an effort to be compelling.
Even the most innovative, cutting-edge small business on the planet has competitors. When your customers want “Product X” or “Service Y,” they have two choices: you or someone else.
Having a superior product is great, but there’s nothing wrong with having your branding strong enough to overpower the competition.
So how do you actually go about creating this compelling online identity that helps your small business connect with the average audience member?
There are a few methods you can use. They all stem from the same thought process:
Solve other people’s problems. Address something unique about your business you think would interest your audience. The key is to create valuable content that matters to your user base.
Let’s say you wanted to be more authentic on social media. This is a respectable goal for any small business and definitely worth adding to your social media marketing strategy.
You could use Facebook Live video or Instagram Live video, depending on where most of your audience is.
Plus, from a purely technical perspective, live videos rank higher both on News Feeds and Instagram Stories Panels. So you’ll have the added benefit of getting the maximum possible amount of people’s attention at any given time.
Admittedly, it can be tough to do a Facebook Live video without any preparation. This is especially true if you’re new to that tool and don’t feel comfortable going into the experience blind.
Fortunately for you, there are plenty of ways that you can prepare a Facebook Live video without compromising the authenticity of the experience.
You can do a Q&A using either previously gathered questions or questions directly from the live comments.
You can do a behind-the-scenes video, showcasing something new or interesting happening within your small business.
Or you can even live stream interviews with major influencers in the industry. And that’s just one way to build a brand on social media using the power of storytelling.
Using visual content (images and video) to tell stories, or even curating user-generated content, can help develop your online brand in a massive way.
Some of you might have noticed that we’ve alluded to the duality of social media marketing. On one hand, we have the creative side, driven by storytelling and high-quality branding.
The creative aspect of social media matters, but creativity by itself is an incomplete marketing strategy.
Over the years, people have endlessly debated the subject of which metrics matter the most. And it’s likely that people will continue to study this topic for years to come.
The embarrassing truth is that we’ve accumulated plenty of data, but determining how much of it matters and how much of it is junk is harder than you’d expect.
We won’t bore you with every single piece of data, but here’s the general idea. The issue of metrics comes down to what your end goal is.
For a while, the most important metrics to small business owners were “reach” metrics.
Anything that promoted organic reach via something like Facebook was worthwhile. These days, if reach is your end goal, then you’re likely missing the bigger picture.
Reach is important, but engagement metrics are the next step in social media marketing strategy.
Having plenty of eyeballs on your content matters, but having meaningful engagement matters more.
As an added bonus, social media networks recognize engagement for what it is and increase your content’s reach accordingly.
This is one of the more abstract concepts that we’ll be covering today, but it’s absolutely one that most small business owners are missing.
While there’s certainly plenty to respect about the advertising industry, the general spirit of advertising has a difficult time fitting into the world of social media.
To understand why, we need to recognize the space in which social media exists. The internet, by design, is an interactive experience. Consumers and audience members are constantly choosing of their own accord what sites to visit.
With the growth of the social media marketing boogeyman otherwise known as adblockers, it’s really only a matter of time before consumers only see the content they want to see.
Television and radio were, for the most part, passive experiences. Consumers sat and watched commercials because they were jammed in between their favorite shows and they didn’t have much of a choice in the matter.
Fighting for banner ads and commercials that play in front of Youtube videos might be worth it today, but it’s unlikely to be a valuable strategy in 5 years.
Instead of going against the current, it’s important for small business owners to embrace the interactive nature of the internet, and by extension, social media.
Create content that people want to click on. Create a brand that people want to follow. The secret to dominating social media isn’t some fancy new tool or tactic. It’s good old-fashioned, high-quality marketing.