Social media marketing inspiration for small businesses (15 minute read)
Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash

Social media marketing inspiration for small businesses (15 minute read)

In this blog post series, we’ve had a good delve into the latest latest research on marketing a Small Business on Social Media.

Why use social media to market your small business?
Which social media channels should you use to market your small business?
Social media marketing overwhelm and how to combat it.

Now I:

  • recognise that Social Media is a valuable tool for small businesses,
  • have a good idea which social media platforms I want to focus on, and
  • understand that it would be useful to create a plan based on my business objectives.

But what next?

The final post in this series is all about where to find ideas for the regular, engaging posts that we need to create.

I hope this information will help you decide where to focus your Social Media Marketing efforts as much as the research process has helped me!

INSPIRATION

Hootsuite recommend researching your competition’s content for inspiration. 

Study what your competition is up to on social media.

Learning from what others have done is a great way to reduce your own learning curve. A competitive analysis and some social listening strategies can give you insight into what’s working and what’s not for other businesses like yours. (1)

Photo by Kobu Agency on Unsplash
Photo by Kobu Agency on Unsplash

You can also take inspiration from the success of small business in other industries.

Head to the business section of most social networks and you’ll find useful case studies. It’s also a great idea to ask existing followers what they want to see more of, then give them exactly what they ask for. (2)

Lyfe Marketing recommend going beyond and learning from industry leaders and bigger brands such as Starbucks, Oreo, Netflix, Apple, etc. (3)

They are more likely to have big budgets for their social media marketing, and you can learn from their experience.

TYPES OF POST

Lets take a look at some of the different types of post that are recommended for marketing small businesses in 2019.

Sprout Social found that posts with links to more information are the most preferred type of content on social media. 30% of consumers said that it’s the content they like to see most, 18% preferred graphics and images, while 17% would like to see a produced video. (4)

BLOGS

Social Media Examiner recommend blogging because you can repurpose the information in multiple formats!

Start with the long form written content, then you can re-purpose the content to make videos, do a ‘live’, and make multiple short posts, all pointing back to your blog! (5)

Photo by Kaboompics .com from Pexels

The Social Media Content Writing Guide agrees and suggests using social media channels as a way to link to longer blog posts. Offer a short overview or a few takeaways directly above the link to catch users’ attention. (6)

Over time you will become a reliable source of relevant, valuable information which will elevate you to expert status. This long term strategy requires dedication and diligence, but promises exponential results over time. (7)

SmallBusiness.co.uk create weekly blogs, with their own imagery, and inspiring owned content every day to ensure they are part of the right conversations. This has resulted in over 20 per cent of their website traffic coming from social referrals, which equates to thousands of unique visitors a year. (8)

STORIES / SOLUTIONS / TESTIMONIALS

Why use storytelling in your Social Media Marketing?

Gary Vee says, in a world where there’s a an enormous amount of social content, if you don’t make someone stop what they are doing and create a response, you are going to lose. Whether that’s an action or an emotion, the true test of storytelling is how you feel or what you do after you consume it. (9)

Beyond Social Buzz recommend focusing on the ‘WHY’. Tell your audience why your business exists. An answer like ‘to make money’ is too short sighted. What’s the higher purpose? What’s your mission? In today’s crowded market customers are asking- why should I buy from you? If you can answer this question with a real story, then you’ve built the trust of that customer. (10)

Joanna Michaels’ strategy is to keep it simple. Simple stories are more trustworthy. Think: Problem-Solution-Success. You explain the problem, describe how you solved it, and finally talk about your success. (11)

Word of mouth has always been the most powerful advertising tool. If you do right by your customer and give them a great experience, they’re very likely to start talking about your product. Don’t hold back in asking them for a testimonial that you can use in your social media marketing.

PHOTOS / VISUAL ELEMENTS

Catching and sustaining your audience’s attention on social media is an all-out competition, according to Michael Patterson. Visuals are no longer a nicety; they’re an essential, core component of a successful social media strategy. (12)

Hootsuite confirm that people have come to expect social posts to include a visual component. Twitter’s internal data, for example, shows that people are three times more likely to engage with Tweets that have visual elements like a video, photo, infographic, or GIF. (13)

Social Media Strategist Jeff Bullas reports that Facebook posts with photos receive an average 37% increase in engagement. (14)

Social images drive real-world action, too. More than half of millennials have made travel plans or visited a restaurant based on an image or video a friend shared on social. (15)

If you don’t have a lot of photos of your products or your business, you can use stock photos. There are plenty of free, high-quality photos online that you can legitimately use in your social posts. Just make sure you stick to using appropriately licensed stock photography, since using random images you find online is definitely not okay and can get you in some serious trouble. (16) 

You can find royalty free stock photos here:

https://www.pexels.com/

https://unsplash.com/

https://pixabay.com/

https://wellcomecollection.org/works

https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/

Otherwise, you may want to consider paying a small amount to secure exactly the right image for your message from one of the many stock photo suppliers, such as:

https://www.shutterstock.com/photos

https://stock.adobe.com/

https://www.istockphoto.com/

https://stockphoto.com/

VIDEOS

A paper by Matthew Gilbert, suggests that mobile video is a particularly promising platform to communicate to consumers; 80% of Internet traffic will be video by 2019 and 74% of consumers are more likely to buy a product or service after watching a branded video. (17)

In fact, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg expects the majority of traffic on his channel to be video by 2021. (18)

It certainly does seem to be on the increase, GlobalWebIndex’s research has found that 59% of internet users watch videos on social media, and 27% create or share them. (19)

Social Media Examiner believe that these days people don’t have enough patience to read a whole blog. Videos are far more communicative than blogs, plus they are given priority by social media. (20)

The Social Media Marketing Industry Report 2019 found that Facebook is the most popular live video platform (34%) and surprisingly, 43% of marketers don’t use live video. (21)

According to QuickSprout, live streamed video gets 10 times more comments than non-live video and 3 times longer view time. (22)

Despite the popularity of video marketing, Manifest’s survey shows how small businesses are failing to prioritise video marketing, with only one-third of small companies investing in video marketing and just 27% planning on increasing spending on video marketing in 2019. (23)

Social Media Examiner found that YouTube is the number-one video channel, used by 57% of marketers. A significant 71% of marketers plan on increasing their use of YouTube video and 75% want to learn more about marketing on the platform. (24)

This report also asked marketers about the average length of the videos they created. The most popular length was 1-3 minutes (39%) followed by 16-59 seconds (30%). A significant 80% of marketers are creating videos that are 3 minutes or less. The most popular duration for live videos was less than 10 minutes (62%). (25)

This ties in with research by HubSpot into which length of video performed best for each channel. After analysing thousands of videos they found that the ideal length was: (26)

  • 30 seconds for Instagram
  • 45 seconds for Twitter
  • 1 minute for Facebook
  • 2 minutes for Youtube
Social Media Video Infographic

LinkedIn recommends that videos are best kept between 15-30 seconds, but can go up to five minutes, depending on the content. (27)

CONTENT CURATION

Joanna Michaels from Beyond Social Buzz suggests that your content doesn’t have to be all yours or all about you either! You can share lots of great stuff written by others, provided it is relevant to your audience. 

So share and give credit, it will come back to you.

That’s how you create a loyal, engaged community who keep you and your business at the back of their mind, so when they have a need that your product or service can solve, they will come to you and nobody else. (28)

Social Media Examiner agree and recommend finding and sharing content that’s relevant to your products. Every Monday, Todd Clarke finds, shares, and schedules 10 articles for the week on LinkedIn. (29)

Photo by Erik Lucatero on Unsplash
Photo by Erik Lucatero on Unsplash

Hootsuite also suggest adding your voice (and value) to a handpicked collection of social media content. These should be gathered from a variety of reputable sources, around a specific topic, that you can then publish and share with your fans. (30)

They recommend using Pocket to keep all your interesting images, articles, and videos in one place.

Capturing and collecting information is the first step in sharing your curation. (31)

OTHER CONTENT IDEAS

It’s a good idea to keep your content fresh. Sprout Social warn that when you constantly recycle the same posts again and again, your social feeds start to feel like Groundhog Day.

That’s exactly why brands need to have multiple social media ideas in their back pocket.

They have an excellent list of 20 social media ideas for brands both big and small. Each of these types of posts is fair game for those looking to keep their social feeds from ever growing stale. (32)

  1. Create a daily, weekly or monthly series
  2. Run a contest or giveaway
  3. Host an “Ask Me Anything” series
  4. Conduct a social media takeover
  5. Share, repin, retweet & regram
  6. Bite-sized video clips
  7. Repurpose your content
  8. Team up with another brand
  9. How tos and tutorials
  10. Go ‘live’
  11. Give customers the spotlight
  12. Conduct an interview
  13. Make a meme
  14. Take advantage of trending topics
  15. Ask followers to tag-a-friend
  16. Run a social-exclusive deal
  17. Poll your audience
  18. Respond to your followers
  19. Go behind the scenes
  20. Share a milestone

Pick a couple of ideas that appeal to you and incorporate them into your plan.

This is just the tip of the iceberg though, if you’re looking for more content inspiration a quick Google search for “Social Media Content ideas” will bring up thousands of ideas.

SOCIAL MEDIA CONTENT CALENDAR

Once you have an idea of the content you want to share how do you manage it and keep on top of it all?

Hootsuite recommend creating a social media calendar to help you post the right content to the right social channels at the right time.

The calendar should include a plan for your content mix.

Try starting with the 80-20 rule:

Use 80 percent of your content to inform, educate, or entertain your audience and 20 percent to promote your brand or sell your products. (33)

Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash
Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

Capterra agree that one of the most effective ways to save time is to schedule your social media content. (34)

Lyfe marketing say that having a clear social media calendar allows you to stay accountable, be consistent, save a ton of time, get more productive, and achieve peace of mind – all of which contributes to building a results oriented social media marketing approach. (35)

Quicksprout recommend using an automation platform to allow you to schedule your posts in advance. This can allow you to take time at the beginning of your week to set the dates and times for your posts in the future. (36)

Social media scheduling tools save businesses time and energy by allowing them to schedule posts to social media platforms ahead of time and offer reports on the growth on social media platforms.

Fit Small Business researched 15 free social media scheduling tools and they recommend Buffer.

Overall, its ease of use and content creation are strong, and it serves the needs of new social media marketers. (37)

There are several other options for scheduling. You can even create a post in Facebook and schedule it to publish on your Page in the future. (38)

I hope this dive into the latest research into Social Media Marketing for Small Businesses has given you plenty of ideas, and a strategy to plan your own social media marketing!

My main takeaway from the research is that there is no ‘right’ way to run your social media marketing in 2019. 

Start simple, create a workable plan, see what resonates with your audience, and have a little fun with it.

REFERENCES

Extra reading if you fancy delving down further into the research.

  1. How to Use Social Media for Small Business: 11 Simple Tips, How to Use Social Media for Small Business: 11 Simple Tips, https://blog.hootsuite.com/social-media-tips-for-small-business-owners/
  2. How to Use Social Media for Small Business: 11 Simple Tips, How to Use Social Media for Small Business: 11 Simple Tips, https://blog.hootsuite.com/social-media-tips-for-small-business-owners/
  3. Social Media Marketing for Small Business: 4 Tips That Work, https://www.lyfemarketing.com/blog/social-media-marketing-for-small-business/
  4. 65 Social Media Statistics to Bookmark in 2019 | Sprout Social, 65 Social Media Statistics to Bookmark in 2019, https://sproutsocial.com/insights/social-media-statistics/
  5. Social Media Examiner – Home, Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/smexaminer
  6. Social Media Content Writing Guide – IZEA, Social Media Content Writing Guide, https://izea.com/2019/06/10/social-media-content-writing/
  7. When Social Media Is A Waste Of Time For Businesses, When Social Media Is A Waste Of Time For Businesses, https://www.forbes.com/sites/piasilva/2017/02/20/when-social-media-is-a-waste-of-time-for-businesses/#794ca923237f
  8. Top social media tips for small businesses, Top social media tips for small businesses, https://smallbusiness.co.uk/top-social-media-tips-small-businesses-2540617/
  9. How to Tell a Story on Social Media, https://www.garyvaynerchuk.com/how-to-tell-a-story-on-social-media/
  10. How to Master Social Media for Your Business – Beyond Social Buzz, How to Master Social Media for Your Business, https://beyondsocialbuzz.co.uk/how-to-master-social-media-for-your-business/
  11. How to Master Social Media for Your Business – Beyond Social Buzz, How to Master Social Media for Your Business, https://beyondsocialbuzz.co.uk/how-to-master-social-media-for-your-business/
  12. How to Double Your Social Engagement With Images, How to Double Your Social Engagement With Images, https://www.convinceandconvert.com/social-media-strategy/double-social-engagement-with-images/
  13. How to Use Social Media for Small Business: 11 Simple Tips, How to Use Social Media for Small Business: 11 Simple Tips, https://blog.hootsuite.com/social-media-tips-for-small-business-owners/
  14. How to Double Your Social Engagement With Images, How to Double Your Social Engagement With Images, https://www.convinceandconvert.com/social-media-strategy/double-social-engagement-with-images/
  15. How to Use Social Media for Small Business: 11 Simple Tips, How to Use Social Media for Small Business: 11 Simple Tips, https://blog.hootsuite.com/social-media-tips-for-small-business-owners/
  16. How to Use Social Media for Small Business: 11 Simple Tips, How to Use Social Media for Small Business: 11 Simple Tips, https://blog.hootsuite.com/social-media-tips-for-small-business-owners/
  17. Strengthening Your Social Media Marketing with Live Streaming Video | SpringerLink, Strengthening Your Social Media Marketing with Live Streaming Video, https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-030-01659-3_42
  18. The rise of, and need for, video in social media marketing: Ingenta Connect, The rise of, and need for, video in social media marketing, https://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/hsp/jeam/2019/00000003/00000004/art00003
  19. How to Create a Social Media Strategy – GlobalWebIndex, Social Media Marketing Strategy: What it Really Takes to Make it Work, https://blog.globalwebindex.com/marketing/social-media-marketing-strategy/
  20. Social Media Examiner – Home, Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/smexaminer
  21. 2019 SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING INDUSTRY REPORT – How Marketers Are Using Social Media to Grow Their Businesses, Social Media Examiner, https://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/social-media-marketing-industry-report-2019/
  22. How to Effectively Market Your Small Business on Social Media, How to Effectively Market Your Small Business on Social Media, https://www.quicksprout.com/social-media-for-small-business/
  23. 73% of Small Businesses Invest in Social Media Marketing – Small Business Trends, 73% of Small Businesses Invest in Social Media Marketing, Survey Finds, https://smallbiztrends.com/2019/04/2019-social-media-statistics.html
  24. 2019 SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING INDUSTRY REPORT – How Marketers Are Using Social Media to Grow Their Businesses, Social Media Examiner, https://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/social-media-marketing-industry-report-2019/
  25. 2019 SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING INDUSTRY REPORT – How Marketers Are Using Social Media to Grow Their Businesses, Social Media Examiner, https://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/social-media-marketing-industry-report-2019/
  26. How Long Should Your Videos Be? Ideal Lengths for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube [Infographic], How Long Should Your Videos Be? Ideal Lengths for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube [Infographic], https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/how-long-should-videos-be-on-instagram-twitter-facebook-youtube
  27. How Long Should Your Videos Be? Ideal Lengths for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube, How Long Should Your Videos Be? , https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/how-long-should-videos-be-on-instagram-twitter-facebook-youtube
  28. How to Master Social Media for Your Business – Beyond Social Buzz, How to Master Social Media for Your Business, https://beyondsocialbuzz.co.uk/how-to-master-social-media-for-your-business/
  29. Content Curation: A Beginner’s Guide To Curating Content, The Complete Guide to Content Curation: Tools, Tips, Ideas, https://blog.hootsuite.com/beginners-guide-to-content-curation/
  30. Content Curation: A Beginner’s Guide To Curating Content, The Complete Guide to Content Curation: Tools, Tips, Ideas, https://blog.hootsuite.com/beginners-guide-to-content-curation/
  31. Content Curation: A Beginner’s Guide To Curating Content, The Complete Guide to Content Curation: Tools, Tips, Ideas, https://blog.hootsuite.com/beginners-guide-to-content-curation/
  32. 20 Social Media Ideas to Keep Your Brand’s Feed Fresh, 20 Social Media Ideas to Keep Your Brand’s Feed Fresh, https://sproutsocial.com/insights/social-media-ideas/
  33. How to Use Social Media for Small Business: 11 Simple Tips, How to Use Social Media for Small Business: 11 Simple Tips, https://blog.hootsuite.com/social-media-tips-for-small-business-owners/
  34. Social Media Marketing Tips for Small Businesses, 6 Social Media Marketing Tips for Small Businesses, https://blog.capterra.com/what-is-social-media-marketing-21-social-media-marketing-tips-for-small-businesses/
  35. Social Media Marketing for Small Business: 4 Tips That Work, https://www.lyfemarketing.com/blog/social-media-marketing-for-small-business/
  36. How to Effectively Market Your Small Business on Social Media, How to Effectively Market Your Small Business on Social Media, https://www.quicksprout.com/social-media-for-small-business/
  37. 6 Best Free Social Media Scheduling Tools for 2019, 6 Best Free Social Media Scheduling Tools for 2019, https://fitsmallbusiness.com/free-social-media-scheduling-tools/
  38. How do I schedule a post and manage scheduled posts for my Facebook Page? | Facebook Help Centre, How do I schedule a post and manage scheduled posts for my Facebook Page? | Facebook Help Centre, https://www.facebook.com/help/389849807718635

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