How Small Businesses Can Leverage Social Media to Grow Sales

small business and social media

Social media is everywhere, from your phone to your laptop to the iPad you use to take notes in business meetings. Whether you’re a fan of friending acquaintances on Facebook, finding links on LinkedIn, or gossiping about your every move on Twitter, young adults and high-ranking professionals alike have are driven to create a presence on social media. Many businesses have cashed in on the trend, creating Facebook, Twitter, and even Instagram profiles for their companies. Unfortunately, most of these companies don’t know how to leverage their social media profiles in order to drive sales and see a difference in revenue.

While large businesses frequently have the excess cash flow they can allocate to funding extensive marketing campaigns, smaller and medium-sized companies generally do not. The traditional marketing avenues, like television, radio spots, and newspaper ads, are both expensive and out of touch, catering almost exclusively to seasoned adults and missing the youth demographic entirely. When businesses light on cash make the decision to sink money into conventional marketing, they can often find themselves up the creek without a paddle.

Social media marketing provides numerous benefits for companies, offering affordable, youth-oriented avenues that can be maintained without monthly fees or a significant investment. The internet is far more vast and offers a much wider reach than what local advertising alone can provide, allowing companies to cast a wide net over multiple channels without breaking the bank or exceeding a tight marketing budget.

So, how can a small business use social media to get ahead? How does social media work to a company’s advantage when standard marketing is failing to make a difference? Breaking into the world of social media may sound daunting, but it’s easier than most companies believe. In fact, there are only three major steps to mastering the art of social media marketing. Companies must identify their audience, create a strategy to target their designated key demographic, and work to maximize results.

Identifying your audience may sound stressful, but it’s actually a simple process. First, take a step back and think about your average customer. Do you sell car parts? You probably serve more men than women, and largely those between the ages of 25 and 50. Maybe you peddle high-end cosmetics. In this case, your target is high-income women, ages 30 and up. Looking to make a splash in the toy market? It’s time to focus your marketing on young parents, likely between the ages of 20 and 40.

In order to get the word out to the demographic you have in mind, it’s important to understand what social networks individuals prefer. Facebook spans the ages, with teens, young adults, and older adults frequently logging on. High school and college students, however, are slowly moving to more instant alternatives, like Twitter and Instagram. Pinterest attracts college-age and young adults, inspiring creative collaboration, while LinkedIn is catered towards professionals of all ages. By targeting the right network choice, companies have a much better opportunity to target the right individuals. Most companies choose to maximize their options, creating profiles on a majority of social networking sites in order to attract as many individuals as possible through all possible routes.

Targeting your audience is about more than simply identifying the right social network, however. In order to create the right approach to social media marketing, it’s important to consider what draws your audience in. While teens may be attracted to catchy pictures and sassy quotes, older adults may be more drawn to studies and current events and young adults might be willing to click on a few more links if it means the chance of a giveaway. There are numerous factors driving strategic decisions, making it important to understand what your business has to offer. For example, a mechanic’s shop can attract customers by offering a free service appointment while clothing retailers may be more interested in promoting coupons offering a percentage off purchases.

Many small and medium-sized businesses promote campaigns, offering benefits to users who subscribe to an email newsletter, sign up for automated texts, or follow a company account on Twitter. By offering incentives for simple actions, companies can create a customer base. Most sites, especially retail sites, offer a way for customers to register, accumulate rewards, or take advantage of unique members-only offerings. Once a business finds the right incentives to offer users, it’s much easier to draw create subscriber lists. With this methodology, it’s easier than ever to track progress and view the results of a social media campaign in real time.

For truly driven businesses, creating a compelling campaign is about more than simply offering bonuses to users who engage. Web marketing endeavors also involve creating a culture that users can follow, bringing individuals closer to brands than ever. Content marketing in particular is growing rapidly in popularity. Not only does content marketing provide a way for companies to make personal and involved contact with potential viewers but it brings readers into a unique world of industry advice, insider information, and unique product facts and figures.

With the right approach to content marketing in combination with a superior social media marketing strategy, companies can create a true environment for their users, offering a way for individuals to feel like a member of a club. Businesses who create compelling content and offer promotions designed to make potential customers feel like insiders have an upper edge. Creating a community among readers, shoppers, and potential clients drives sales in a unique way that traditional marketing can’t match.

Social media marketing may not be as straightforward as the marketing of the past but it offers new and unique options old school marketing can’t touch. By choosing to cast a net in the social media realm, companies can attract new users, advertise products, educate readers, and create a company culture that keeps customers coming back again and again. With the right focus, businesses can cut marketing costs, design flawless strategies, and watch revenues grow and grow with minimal effort. As long as you have the right knowledge to get started on the right foot, there’s no holding your company back!