Small Businesses Need to Get Crafty to Meet Social Media Needs

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

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. 

About Ripl 

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.

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