Limited by time and resources, small business owners often view having a presence on social media as a daunting task.
Recently our team at Zenith Optimedia worked with several small business owners through Facebook's Grand for Good Program. The program paired 10 of Canada's top media agencies with local businesses in Toronto to kick-start their marketing efforts to help businesses be more discoverable, find customers and build better relationships.
We worked closely with our partnered small business owners to develop an overall social strategy, write and produce content for posts, and manage responses to customers on their Facebook Pages. Here are the top 10 tips for others looking to market themselves on social networks:
1. Get to know Facebook. Our small business owners knew that Facebook had the potential to drive their business but were challenged by limited time and knowledge. The key to understanding Facebook is to participate. First step set up a business Page. Then, check out what some of your favourite brands are doing on the platform.
2. Establish your online voice. Your Facebook Page should reflect your strengths. Posts should be written in a friendly and informative manner. People can post comments on the Page which will be visible to everyone who visits. The way a business interacts with people can increase engagement and reach, as posts/replies may be shared by the customers to their friends.
3. Image is everything. Posts with pictures drive approximately 50 per cent more engagement through Likes, Comment and Shares. For Mahaya Health Services, we found that pictures with food or mindful scenes worked best. One of our posts of a crisp fall moon received over 1,000 Likes and was shared more than 70 times. This sharing increased the reach of Mahaya's Page and attracted new customers. Always make sure you have the legal rights to share the image though!
4. Be timely. We found that posting once a day, after 6pm, was the right pace for our owners' Pages. The key is to stay relevant, be aware of current events, and don't forget seasonality. A post for Mahaya on the subject of Halloween was one of our greatest successes. Posted as an alternative to a sugar-overload, our Halloween banana ghosts received over 4,500 Likes and was shared almost 2,000 times. Henry's Fish and Chips posted a Movember themed picture and received over 300 Likes, while still remaining true to Henry's key objectives of driving in-store traffic.
5. Create a content calendar. A calendar can help identify seasonal opportunities. Halloween, Movember were key calendar moments for our small business partners. And for Henry's Fish and Chips even the hockey schedule was relevant! Keep track of what you post and how it performs as this will help define future efforts.
6. Media drives results. We used media in two ways: as a constant 'always-on' Like acquisition strategy; and as a way to amplify posts that had high engagement. By paying to show our best posts to more consumers, we increased our reach, recruited new Likes and encouraged sharing.
7. Leverage targeting. Facebook media allows you to target ads to specific demographics, locations and stated preferences. We were able to leverage targeting for Henry's by focusing on customers living near the restaurant. Not only would they be more likely to visit, it was also likely they'd be aware of the restaurant's 30 year heritage.
8. Put yourself in the customer's shoes. Today's customer relies on the Internet for information and customer service. The Z4 Zaka team responded quickly to inquiries about their unique gift items. This increased engagement demonstrated the value of being able to expand beyond their local Toronto store. Z4Zaka now operates an Etsy storefront to satisfy customers who are further afield.
9. Track your results, refine your strategy. We measured each post for engagements such as Likes, Comments and Shares. We looked at total impressions and reach as well as our effective costs for media. By tracking everything and looking at it regularly, we were able to refine our targeting and spending to ensure we delivered on objectives. We also focused on the core business objectives – filling a restaurant, selling gifts and attracting health services customers.
10. Embrace digital platforms. Consumers are becoming increasingly fluent with digital platforms. Our owners discovered new ways to engage with their customers, sell their goods, and spread the wellness message. Our advice – participate and learn to drive your business results.
Veronica Holmes is the president of digital at ZenithOptimedia, the first media agency to apply a rigorous and objective approach to improving the effectiveness of marketing spend.