Discover your social media sweet spot

Trying to be everywhere at once on social media is counterproductive for your small business. Narrow your focus and master one platform first

Overwhelmed by social media? You’re not alone.

Less than half of Australian small businesses have a social media presence.

But here’s some good news.

If you’ve been neglecting your online marketing – or putting it off altogether – you can finally make a start without a massive time or cash injection.

You just need to start thinking small.

What does this mean?

  • Forget about marketing on every social media site. The big brands do it because they have a lot of people and a lot of money behind them. Small businesses rarely have either.
  • You need to select and master the single platform that best suits your audience and the strengths of your business.

Stick with known quantities

The major sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn and Pinterest are all good places to start.

They’re proven, well-known and at least one of them will be a preferred gathering place for your audience.

They have large, established user bases numbering in the billions (combined) worldwide.

Facebook alone recorded 1.79 billion active monthly users at last count.

But how do you choose?

Here are a few questions to help figure it out ...

1. Who is your audience?

One of the most important pieces of research you'll ever do - identifying the social media audience for your small business

The most important question of all – not just for your social media marketing, but your entire business.

Without understanding who you’re talking to, you won’t know what kind of information they need, how to package it and where to send it.

  • If you’re already operating, look at your current and past clients to identify common themes that could give you clues about the kid of things they’d be consuming on social media.
  • If you’re in the early start-up phase, take an educated guess based on your industry knowledge.
  • Get your hands dirty with some research on Google and Facebook.

Getting started

Cast a broad net on Google to identify:

  • What websites, publications and blogs (e.g. search for ‘best coffee blogs’) your target audience visits.
  • What professional associations and groups they are interested in (e.g. search for ‘professional barista associations’).
  • Who the most popular people are in your niche (e.g. search for ‘top baristas’).
  • How old are the people you’ve identified? What are their genders, what topics do they commonly discuss, what questions do they ask and what words do they use when talking about your niche?

The answers will form the basis of more detailed research using Facebook Audience Insights.

We’ll explore the value of audience insights in a future post, but it’s definitely worth checking out. You’ll be amazed at the depth of data available.

2. What social media does your audience use?

A good place to learn more about your audience’s social media habits is the Pew Research Centre’s 2016 Social Media Update and our infographic below.

Early 2017 social media site statistics in infographic format.

3. What content can you create to add value for your audience?

If you're not adding real value to your audience with your social media content, you're not going to get results

Think about the value your business can add – it could be a series of ‘how to’ videos, equipment reviews, feature stories, case studies, among many others.

Focus your content creation around the themes you’ve identified, and think about how you can position your business as a trusted source of knowledge in your field.

What does it look like behind the scenes or working on-site for your business? Who are your employees and what are their stories?

These are great starting points to help you begin figuring out which social media site may be best suited for the kind of content you’ll create.

The key thing to remember here (regardless of the platform) is value.

How is your content creating value for your audience – whether they’re being informed, entertained or stirred emotionally?

4. What are you good at / what do you enjoy?

Creating enough content to fuel your social media marketing machine takes time, especially if you want to do it right. So, select a channel you actually enjoy using (just make sure a good portion of your audience actually spends time there).

There’s no point jumping on Instagram if you hate the interface and don’t know your front-facing from your rear-facing camera.

Just as importantly, you need to identify where you do your best work – if you’re not a great writer, long blog posts are going to be out (unless you outsource, but that’s another kettle of fish).

However, you might be great in front of a camera (hello YouTube and Facebook).

Equally, if you can shoot a decent pic and love commenting on images posted by your fellow users, you’ll probably do well on Instagram.

The wash-up

There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution here.

If you still can’t decide which tool is right for your business, start with Facebook.

Why? It has the widest reach, the best ad targeting (which extends to Instagram), and is flexible enough to make your best work shine.

It’s also easy to use and familiar to most small business owners.

There have been complaints that it is essentially a ‘pay-for-play’ tool where your posts reach the timeline of just a fraction of your followers. And that’s spot on.

But organic reach is only a small part of marketing your business. Like all other platforms, you’ll need to spend some money to get the greatest returns.

Facebook costs you nothing to set up (barring time) and gives your business an additional avenue of communication, an audience and competitor research tool, and an advertising platform.

Getting started with it is a no-brainer.

Think small

Decide on a single social media platform for your small business and start learning it inside out

Decide on a single social media platform for your small business and start learning it inside out.

Whether your strength is in writing, photography, graphic design, or videography – start by thinking small and channel your efforts into a single social media site.

And if you’re not confident to make your own content? Think about outsourcing through sites like UpWork and Freelancer.

Regardless, you need to choose one social media site, figure out what your audience wants, and give it to them.

Don’t worry about being everywhere at once – it’s more important you get yourself in the game and get your social media marketing rolling.

If you’re consistent, the results will take care of themselves.