Social media is one of the greatest tools the modern retailer has. How many products have you seen blow up because of a well-placed Instagram post, TikTok or tweet? The answer is probably a lot. But If you’re not Gen Z, or even if you are, it can be difficult to find your natural edge in social media. When it feels like trends are changing almost every day it’s easy to feel like social media isn’t the best use of your time, but that couldn’t be more wrong. Social media is a powerful asset that your business needs to take advantage of whenever possible to stand out.
Why should you put effort into social media
You don’t just have to take our word for it. There are numerous reasons why social media, when done right, is a very beneficial use of your time. Here are just a few.
1. Reach more customers
Even without splurging on paid influencer advertising, maintaining an active presence on social media can help your content and your products reach more potential customers. You never know when a post could go viral, or who could come across your products on their discovery page. By using social media platforms to create content that is interesting and engaging, you can reach a wider audience and encourage them to purchase from your brand.
2. Increase brand awareness
As more people come across your brand they can like, follow, and also share within their network. Social media is a perfect way to increase general awareness around your brand without spending money on advertising. You can start to build a name for your business based on its specific appeal and brand identity.
3. Build community
Social media isn’t only about selling your goods, it’s also about growing a community around your brand. You can do this by building genuine relationships with your customers. These are the people who will buy your products and hopefully recommend you to friends, so it’s important to nurture these connections. Showing that you care about your customers and their experience with your business will go a long way in securing these relationships long-term.
How to use social media the right way
1. Choose the right platforms
Like any advertising channel, it’s important to consider your target audience when using social media, especially when deciding which platforms to focus on. Different demographics use different social media platforms in different ways and to different degrees. For example, the largest social media platform, Facebook, has 2.9 billion monthly active users and has the largest demographic range, with active users ranging from 18-44 years old. If your target audience is outside of the range, you may want to focus on a different social media platform. If you’re interested in targeting Gen Z you may want to focus your marketing on TikTok to reach more engaged users there.
2. Schedule posts
The best way to make sure you stay on top of social media advertising as well as all the other responsibilities that come with an independent business is by scheduling your posts ahead of time. By creating your content early then having them automatically posted to your social media channels at a predetermined time, you can make room for the other areas of your business. You can schedule ahead for important holiday dates or just regular content. You can use Meta Business Suite to schedule for Facebook and Instagram, or a service like Later for all the other social platforms. Content calendars also help you create goals and strategies for meeting them, and track your progress toward them.
3. Encourage engagement
Platforms like Tiktok and Instagram privilege creators who post and engage often. Not only does this mean you have to create new content for at least one post a day, but you should also be engaging with other content on the app. Like, comment, and follow other creators to improve your visibility and encourage engagement on your own posts.
4. Choose the right content for each platform
When choosing your social media platforms it’s important to consider the type of content that is successful on each one. Tiktok is a distinctly video based platform, but Instagram has quickly followed suit by promoting video content over photos. If you want to use either of them you need to make sure you’re creating high-quality and engaging video content. Twitter however is primarily for quick, witty statements or observations. It’s important to use humor and pay attention to trending topics. Because of all the different requirements for each different social media, you may decide to focus on only a few to ensure your content is as high-quality and memorable as possible. With social media it pays to work smarter rather than harder.
5. Balance self-promotion with entertainment
One trap that businesses often fall into is treating social media too much like regular advertising. You don’t want to blatantly promote yourself in every post. You need to create content that people will actually enjoy and want to see. Promoting yourself is necessary especially as a small business, but it’s important to remain balanced. You can use the 80/20 rule, which says that 80% of your content should be useful to your audience - either entertaining, educational, or helpful - and 20% can be direct promotion. In the 80% you could share your own memes, comment on current events or ask a question. You don’t have to entirely avoid mentioning your brand in these posts; just be careful not to sell too hard.
6. Collaborate with other businesses
One of the best ways to succeed at social media marketing is by using strategic collaborations and promotions. See if another independent business would be interested in doing a take over switch, where you each take over the other's social media for a day to talk about your own business or a topic that’s important to you, to the other’s audience. You can also create a collaborative event with each other that you promote on social media. When you work with another business or creator you gain access to their audience which allows you to expand your reach, build a greater community, and hopefully gain new customers!
7. Monitor trends
While you may not always want to follow trends with your products, it’s important to pay attention to them on social media. There are new videos, memes, and cultural trends every few days and they’re an ideal way to capture interest and stay on top of consumer desires. You can use social media trends to promote your own content and redirect consumers to your website. For example, create TikToks with the most popular audio at the moment to increase your chances of appearing on consumers For You page. At the same time you can keep up to date with competitors or potential partners. If you’re an independent store, pay attention to what new brands are popular at the moment and look into stocking them in your store. With a solution like Matagora you can take full advantage of changing social media trends by partnering with new brands and then onboarding, importing and syncing their products within minutes. This allows you to capitalize on current trends without taking a risk with your business. For more information on how to make the most of social media trends click here.
Social media can seem daunting at first but it truly can lead to the greatest payoffs for an independent business. It’s your friend and it’s worth finding a way to make it work for you. Look for ways to implement the tips above, but remember to always have fun with it!