By Clay McDaniel, CEO Ripl, Inc.
As unfair as it may be, achieving success as a small business owner often has less to do with the product or service you create and more to do with how you market it. We’ve all been frustrated by seeing a competitor’s company receive attention we believe we deserve more. In business the playing field slants to those who can create momentum with their audience. You can do that through your company’s social media and the differences between the brands that do it best are subtle. The good news is you don’t even need to hire a social media manager – you can do this yourself. Let’s explore some simple tricks to grow and better engage your audience.
In the early 2000’s I was the founder of one of the first social media agencies in the nation, Spring Creek. This was the early days of social media marketing for brands who were still grappling with how to show up on the platforms that were truly intended for friends to connect and socialize on.
Brands were trying to figure out if it was a smart use of marketing funds, could it be tracked and measured, did consumers trust them in that environment, and so on. I was fortunate to work with some of the nation’s most prominent brands at that time informing social media strategy.
Ultimately, I sold the agency because I wanted to take some of those same principles and approaches and templatize and streamline them for small businesses that could not afford an advertising agency to handle marketing and social media. Fast forward to today, and that’s exactly what I’m doing at Ripl Inc., a software company empowering hundreds of thousands of businesses to succeed on social media without the need for specialized staff or high costs.
Our objective at Ripl is to give busy small business owners the tools they need to quickly and affordably create polished, professional social media marketing. We empower small business users to create dynamic social media profiles in a fraction of the time, and with a fraction of the budget it took in the past. Small businesses often can’t afford a social media manager, or don’t have team members with the knowledge, time, and skills to execute skilled social media content creation. With technologies such as ours, anybody can easily manage the social media presence of a business.
So why does social media matter to every small business? Simply put, your customers (and future customers) are already on social media – so you should be too. Today’s consumers look to social media for information, business reviews, shopping inspiration, and insights from family and friends.
Additionally, digitalization is accelerating at the small business level. The benefits are wide ranging from engaging in two-way conversations with your customers, building trust and strengthening reputation, to giving yourself an avenue for promoting everything from sales to
company news. eCommerce opportunities give you the ability to target just the right people with affordable paid marketing campaigns. In reality, no matter your circumstance it’s tough to argue it has not become vital
According to SBA.gov, 64% of small business owners begin with only $10,000 in capital. With small or shrinking budgets, already cash strapped small businesses are always looking for ways to cut costs and increase productivity and profitability. A low-cost, time saving tool that fulfills a vital need for professional-grade business content is ideal for up-start and smaller brands looking to gain a competitive advantage or grow their awareness through social marketing channels.
Whether you are brand new to the world of social media or have dabbled with creating your own content in the past, there are a few things you should be actively doing and asking yourself. I would offer some key pieces of advice for small business owners.
Consider focusing on a “hero” social platform. If you feel like you’re spread too thin trying to manage all of your social channels, see if one is performing better than the others and focus your energies there. Some channels don’t make as much sense for certain types of businesses. Visual platforms like Instagram often benefit retailers, while Twitter can be beneficial for sharing news and managing customer service.
Add a call-to-action button. This button sits just under your cover photo on your Facebook business page and can be added to Instagram, as well. Make sure it fits your business so potential customers can engage immediately to “Shop now,” “Book now,” “Sign up” and more.
Set goals for your social pages. Having a page just to have a page isn’t the best strategy, so set some measurable goals so you know what’s working and not. Perhaps that means brainstorming new types of content, posting more often or at more regular intervals, or doing more community management on your social media channels.
Refresh your business profile images. Your profile picture and cover/banner image are your most notable visuals on each platform and should feature your logo, or something representative of your company like a shot of your location, team or key products.
Optimize your Instagram bio. Upload a new image, tweak your bio, add a website link. Don’t forget enabling a call-to-action button, adding your business category and contact information.
While all small businesses have different needs and levels of experience with social media management, no matter the business-model or industry, owners need to be consistently implementing “The Four Cs of Engaging Social Content” across brand channels.
● Clear: Is your message clear? Are you sticking to one key topic?
● Concise: Are you keeping your captions short and using words economically?
● Compelling: Is your content interesting? Does it inspire action?
● Creative: Does your content look and sound good?
Remember to keep an eye on what your competitors are doing on social media. Seeing what they’re up to can help inspire new ideas and drive improved business strategy. Similarly, take note of what’s not working and avoid those practices.
About the Author
Clay McDaniel is a digital media and technology marketing executive who currently serves as CEO at Ripl, Inc., a pioneering mobile marketing software company with apps used by hundreds of thousands of small business marketers worldwide. Clay founded one of the early national social media marketing agencies, and now focuses on helping millions of small businesses grow online instead of just a few of the big brands.
Ripl, Inc., a privately held software technology company based in Bellevue, Washington, provides marketing software and premium subscription services to small businesses globally via its mobile and web applications. To learn more about Ripl, view tutorials, or receive support, visit http://www.ripl.com or the Ripl Facebook Page.