By now, we know that social media is essentially ingrained in our everyday lives. Between connecting with our friends, family members, and coworkers on Facebook or Instagram to following our favorite celebs on Twitter to networking with those in our industry on LinkedIn, pretty much everyone we know is using some form of social media on a regular basis.
And social media has become much more than just a place to connect with people we know. It’s now a place where we can connect with businesses in our area that we already know or that we’re just discovering.
Which is where social media marketing comes in. So, what is social media marketing, is it actually effective for local businesses, and how do you get started? These are great questions – let’s get into some answers!
What is Social Media Marketing?
Social media marketing is any form of activity a business conducts on social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and more, whether organic (unpaid) or paid to market itself. So, social media marketing encompasses anything from creating a free Facebook page for your business in order to boost brand awareness to paying for boosted posts or a more robust advertising strategy to get leads.
If your business has a Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn page that you’re using regularly, you’re already participating in social media marketing! And, one study found that the majority of businesses (88%!) are already using social media for marketing. While not all of these businesses are using the full capabilities available for social media marketing, they’re using at least one functionality in an effort to grow their brand awareness, get more leads, or reach new audiences.
What can Social Media Marketing do for Local Businesses?
Like I mentioned, social media marketing can help businesses reach a range of marketing goals such as growing their brand awareness, getting more leads, or reaching new audiences.
Organic social media marketing, which includes running a social media page but not paying for advertising, is an effective way to grow your brand awareness with your existing audience. Your status updates and posts will reach those who have liked or followed your page. But, social media sites, just like search engines, are constantly changing their algorithms, making it a little harder to ensure your organic posts are seen by your fans and followers.
That’s where paid social media marketing, like Facebook or Instagram ads, come in. With paid social ads, you’re able to note a specific target audience so you have a higher chance of reaching more people. This is a great way to reach new audiences, get more leads (specifically with Lead Ads from Facebook, as well as increase your brand awareness. So, the best bet for most businesses is to take a paid + organic approach to social media marketing so you’re engaging with your existing audience as well as growing a new audience.
Is Social Media Marketing Effective for Local Businesses?
The short answer: Yes! Social media marketing is effective for local businesses because it gives you a way to connect with your existing customers while providing an avenue to reach new ones.
I’m a prime example of how this works. Pretty much every new business I’ve discovered this year has been from Instagram. I click almost every Instagram ad I see. And then after I check out their ad, which usually leads to their website, I go back and follow them on Instagram so I can see all their updates. I love a good Instagram ad. And it’s not just for making purchases. For example, I saw an ad for a standalone ER on Instagram and checked out their website and reviews – I liked what I saw, so I kept their information in my back pocket in case I needed an ER in the future. So, when a family member got into a minor car accident, which ER do you think I took them to?
And I’m not the only one. In fact, 76% of consumers say they find new businesses on social media.
How Does Social Media Marketing work with Other Marketing Tactics?
Social media marketing is a natural fit for an integrated marketing strategy – it goes hand-in-hand with a number of activities. For example, I usually do some searches for businesses after I see them on social media, either in an ad or from a friend sharing something about them. So, if they have paid search marketing and good SEO, I’m going to find a lot of information about them right away on the search engine results page. And, if they’re managing their online reputation, that’s even better, because I’m going to check out their reviews before I move forward with contacting them or buying from them.
Because social media marketing is another way to increase brand awareness and can help to get you more customers, it works when you’re running other marketing with those same goals – it’s going to help you get in front of the right customers more often and can even make your other marketing activities more effective.
How Do I Get Started with Social Media Marketing?
There are a lot of different options when it comes to social media marketing. Are you going to rely on organic social media alone or take the paid + organic approach? Which social media site or sites are best for your business? What can you or your team handle when it comes to social media?
If you want to get started, the five things you need are:
- Consistent names for your social media pages. If you haven’t set up your accounts yet, you’ll want to make sure your business name is available on sites like Twitter and Instagram.
- A clear idea of which sites work best for your business. This will likely include Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, but could also include LinkedIn depending on your industry.
- Pictures for your pages. You’ll likely want to keep your profile picture consistent across all sites, which makes your logo the best bet. Your cover photos and other images for your Facebook page should represent your business and what you want people to know about you.
- Updated information on all your social media pages. Facebook and LinkedIn give you the most options when it comes to business information like your address, phone number, services, and more. But, you’ll also want to include your business information and website on your Twitter and Instagram pages.
- A posting schedule. If you set up social media pages, you’ll need to start posting and engaging there so it’s not a ghost town. You’ll also want to regularly monitor your page for any comments, messages, or reviews that come in.
It can easily become overwhelming, and social media can be a full-time job. If you don’t have the time or, let’s be real, the interest in running your own social media marketing campaigns, a marketing partner can help you get everything going and make sure it’s working. LOCALiQ (that’s us!) can help you determine which social media sites will be best for your business and what types of campaigns can help you reach your specific marketing goals.