Identifying a Business’ New Reality
It is important to identify the needs of your business. The last few weeks have given small business owners time for a reality that we have never experienced before, researched or had the opportunity to plan for. Most non-essential small business’ were forced to close without warning, without notice and time to analyze the current and future financial situation and monthly overhead and without all the necessary tools we needed to ensure the safety and future of the companies we have built and dedicated so much time to.
How did we get here?
If you think about it, most small business’ started with an idea, a problem needing a solution or a man/woman looking to some other “work for the man.” We planned, we strategized, we aligned our finances and we bunkered down and brought our dream to reality. Before we got married, we got dated, got engaged, planned a wedding; before kids, thought about their names, their bedrooms, their family life…But here we are almost 4 ½ weeks out; and we’ve been forced to take our “babies” and close down.
After the panic, the scurrying around from bank to bank to find financial aid, learn about SBA loans and Paid Leave Acts; ensuring a plan for employees and preparing the physical buildings for closure if need be (by means of removing foods before spoilage, locking up the facility safely, backing up data & client details, and the preparation to mobilize and become an “At-Home-Operation”; most of us then began to do ponder, “How we will continue from this, How will we grow from this, and how will we continue to build our brands?”
Aside from door hangers, courtesy emails and follow up calls to current clients and email marketing, Social Media Marketing has been an outlet where most small business owners have come. Some owners started posting right away, “ Closed but Available for Curb Side pickup, Closed, But Just a Phone Call Away.” Some built out a strategy for their ways and some just started throwing stuff out there. As with all things in business, it is important to recognize and identify the needs of your business as well as what you are looking for before just delving into a new venture. Let’s take a look.
How Do You Identify Your Business’ Needs?
SO before picking which route to take and where to begin, it’s crucial to identify your business’ needs and recognize what results you are looking for in social media and the audience you want to engage with. You wouldn’t step into an Aldi’s to buy a Grass-Fed Ribeye Aged Crown cut of beef just as you likely would not walk into a Fresh Market looking to purchase a box of Savoritz crackers. Throwing information and imagery onto a platform when you haven’t set expectations and goals as well as analyzed your company and the demographic you need to reach is a waste of valuable time and marketing budget, especially in a time of pandemic when both are critical.
Just a Few Simple Steps…
There are three actions you typically move to Social Media Marketing to reach your customers in; Brand Awareness, Interest in Product and Services and Action. There is process for customers when buying products and services and a process in which everyone follows, whether they’re aware or not. First and foremost it is important to remember that Social Media was created for entertainment; to be entertained and entertain others.
So again, you should begin with the first step to identify needs of your business. When putting your products and services up on any social media platform, you don’t want to go for the kill. Not all Social Media platforms are intended for direct sales and are instead created to entertain your customers, engage them and keep them aware of your brand. After deciding which avenue(s) your company, your products and your services are best suited for; it’s then time to build out your marketing strategy.
Your Business Needs Brand Awareness
The goal of increasing brand awareness, increase following and gain exposure is best suited with the platforms for Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr and Twitter. These platforms lend themselves well to promote simple photos alongside beautiful imagery, short video clips, captions and inspirational thoughts for your consumers, however do not increase website traffic. Increasing following and creating a fan base open up options to increase Brand Awareness and future sales influence.
Instagram provides us with a simple to use platform to quickly display images and short clips representing your product(s) and gain traction and exposure to those aware of a problem through general content.
Snapchat with great Brand Awareness however is also built on existing brand loyalty. This platform is not typically a platform used to gain followers, however to keep your product in the face through awareness to those who know you. It is best used for personal brands i.e hairdressers, photographers and personal trainers.
Tumblr; another great platform for beauty, imagery and photographs. It’s great for bonus exposure for those amongst late teens and early twenties. It’s again, all entertainment and awareness.
Twitter allows us to manipulate the text to become a bit more complex, and have website site links, however again not to be used as a direct sales tool. It is best for blog posts, brand values, and competitions or surveys. This platform easily helps you build a fan base and brand awareness through the use of hashtags. Only 9.5% of users are over 50 years old on this platform.
Next Up, Brand Loyalty
After increasing Brand Awareness, following and exposure to your business services and products, you then move into building Brand Loyalty, Brand Ethics and Company Core Values as well as build WebSite Traffic, i.e purchases. If you’ve taken a look at your business and recognize that you have identified the needs of your business and is ready to move past Brand Awareness, Brand Loyalty is the next aspect to build upon. Building Brand Loyalty is your chance to broadcast the ethics behind your company and the foundation of what created your business and why people return.
Brand Loyalty is the retention of your current customers and being on the forefront of their minds when it comes time for decision making. When looking at Social Media platforms, Facebook, YouTube and Google are the three best platforms to really drive website traffic. These platforms offer features for marketing that are not limited by characters and images. They allow for longer posts, blogs, links to website and offer customers the options for follow through.
The Pioneer in Social Media Platforms: Facebook
Let’s take a look at Facebook, a platform with over 2 billions active users. This is a good source for every company to have and be linked to customers on. The demographic of 50 and over makes up 56% of users. Website traffic, the ability to click on an article or an image showcasing a product for sale is an instant sale of your brand. Again, we are not using any platforms for direct selling; however these platforms do offer us the option to sell our brand and keep our services and products directly in front our customers. We build our company Facebook pages on entertainment, inspiration and again showing our brand values through posts. Facebook however, still proves to be one of the weakest platforms for your client as the algorithms created do show on a certain percentage of your posts to clients and customers.
Boosting posts through Facebook Ads are great for exposure and building the brand base. However once the ads are done running is when you see the analytics and comparison of ads. Sometimes there is a decrease of reactions engagements through organic presence and ads are no longer shown in feeds. A tricky way Facebook keeps us purchasing ads however a budget maybe more than some of us can afford. Building organic reach through engagements will show your posts at a higher percentage than running ads on and off.
Social Media Runner-Up: YouTube
YouTube, the second largest search engine used by most customers and an interesting platform, because is it really a social media platform? Most customers and clients when shopping for a new product or service would rather watch a video than read an article. Owned by Google, YouTube gives you better SEO ranking than when not used in typical Google Searches. YouTube offers testimonials, quick tips and interviews that cover so many bases. You can resolve all customer doubts using Brand Loyalty and “How To” videos on YouTube.
YouTube videos embedded into your website also boost SEO and awareness of your brand. YouTube does some down downfalls. It is one of the hardest platforms to grow a fan base with and gain exposure. YouTube has a harder reach and gaining a following is quite challenging. However, having added bonuses of ad campaigns available, building website traffic and boosting SEO, makes it a source worth using.
Google is Essential for SEO Traffic
Google, the most essential piece of the puzzle for local business’ with over 2.2 billion users. With a customer base larger than Facebook, Google’s great for building SEO, tracking sales leads and boosting accounts through information. Business’ with a physical location are best on Google, utilizing Google My Business. It allows the use of geotracking, placement on GoogleMaps and Google Page presence. Photos, blogs, information through Google Posts will lead to sales and actual clients searching for your products and services. The Google review platform trumps all and again boosts SEO and website traffic. Google posts os twice weekly and profile updates with response to user engagement show strong success. The downfall of Google is again, you can’t build a fanbase off of it and without it, exposure is low without GoogleAds.
The review of the platforms has hopefully given some tools to identify your business needs and analyze your goals. Take a look at what you are using current platforms for and if they are really working for you. Throwing poor quality images or videos out there may not be building your business or damaging your online presence. The average company should utilize three platforms to their full potential to grow Brand Awareness, Brand Loyalty and showcase your Brand Ethics. You are not selling direct through Social Media Platforms; you want to entertain and engage your customers for the future sale after you have identify the needs of your business.