As a small business owner, I know firsthand how important it is to stay on top of the latest marketing trends. We no longer live in a world where traditional public relations alone will achieve your business objectives. With new and evolving digital platforms creating so many ways to communicate with your target audience, businesses must diversify their public relations and media strategies to be successful.
We cannot work in silos; instead, we need to have a comprehensive approach, including tactics such as media relations, community partnerships, unique events, influencer collaborations, digital and traditional advertising, email marketing and social media.
While some of these marketing channels can be costly, social media for small business owners is an absolute must and an inexpensive way of keeping your brand top of mind.
How businesses use social media for marketing can vary depending on the industry. The first step is determining which social media platforms make the most sense for your business. Where are your competitors? Are they on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn? If so, does it also make sense for you to have a presence on each of these, as well?
Once you know where you should be, decide who you want to reach and what your message should look like in order to accomplish this. Messaging can certainly vary on each platform, as can your target audience.
Recruiting, B2B content and company updates are best suited for LinkedIn, while beautiful visuals and brand stories are reserved for Instagram and Facebook. Twitter can serve as a great platform for timely updates and conversations with followers. To create effective social media marketing for small businesses, solidify your brand voice and target audience before creating content.
As you begin creating organic content to push out to your target audience, take advantage of the advertising tools within each platform. Facebook's Ad Manager provides businesses with an intuitive approach to advertising on Facebook, Instagram, and Facebook's Audience Network. By adding marketing dollars to your social media strategy, small businesses cast a wider net with individual posts and reach a larger audience by creating campaigns with specific objectives such as driving website visitors. With advertising spend on social media, you will be equipped with even more data and analytics than your organic posts generate in order to understand who is engaging with your content.
It's always beneficial to keep these options in mind, while understanding the value social media brings to your overall marketing strategy. Social media is a great tool for upper funnel objectives, such as raising brand awareness and interest, rather than lower funnel, conversion objectives. You want to rely on social media to increase your customer base, connect with current customers and influence them down the purchasing path.
The beauty and power of social media for small business owners is that it's affordable and efficient. It can serve as a snapshot of your brand when potential customers visit your page.
There's no better way to build relationships with your current and prospective customers than through social media marketing. It offers a quick turnaround time, granular targeting options and real-time consumer feedback and communication.
Karen Henry is the founding partner of The PR Boutique, a Houston-based public relations firm. Kirby Levey is the company's senior accounts and digital executive.