The Social Media Marketing Guide for Small Businesses


Welcome to the Social Media Marketing Guide for Small Businesses. The following information will provide you with a good understanding of what social media is and introduce you to some of the most popular social media channels. We’ll also be providing tips and strategies on how you can use social media to grow your business and connect with more customers. Whether you are completely new to social media marketing, or would like to learn something new, we hope you will find this guide useful. So, let’s get started!

  1. Chapter 1 – An Introduction to Social Media Marketing
  2. Chapter 2 – A Guide to Social Media Marketing on Facebook
  3. Chapter 3 – A Guide to Social Media Marketing on Twitter
  4. Chapter 4 – A Guide to Social Media Marketing on Google+
  5. Chapter 5 – A Guide to Social Media Marketing on Linkedin
  6. Chapter 6 – Planning for Social Media Success

An Introduction To Social Media Marketing

The primary goal of any business is to maximize turnover, which means increasing brand awareness and reaching as many customers as possible. It comes as no suprise that, with an audience counting in the billions, the Internet has become the ultimate marketing tool for every business. From local shops to global corporations, business are now using social media as a major part of their marketing efforts.

Social media has seen amazing growth over the last ten years, and has given users the ability to instantly communicate with people all around the world. Businesses are making the most of this fact and using social media to extend their brand awareness on a far greater level than ever before. Let’s take a look at just how important social media has become for businesses:

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Key Social Media Marketing Statistics

  • The number of social network users worldwide reached 1.79 billion in November 2014.
  • Over 90% of marketers considered social media to be important to their business.
  • 46% of Internet users look to social media for advice before making a purchase.
  • 80% of small businesses use social media to drive growth.
  • 60% of small businesses have gained new customers through social platforms.

Social media is no short term trend. It has become one of the main driving forces on the Internet, and its influence is only continuing to grow. Despite this, many businesses still struggle to use social media marketing effectively. In many cases this can be caused by a ‘fear of the unknown’ or a lack of enthusiasm to get involved. There are also many cases where businesses have already opened social media accounts, but simply struggle to connect with their audience in any meaningful way.

Why Do Businesses Need Social Media?

A great deal of power is now in the hands of consumers, and many businesses have already realised that they are no longer in complete control.

Gone are the days when traditional advertising methods dominated. Today’s marketing strategies are focused on creating meaningful relationships with customers through social media, having two-way conversations, building trust and, in turn, increasing brand recognition.

We’ve already seen just how enormous social media is, but you’re probably wondering how it can truly benefit your business, right? Let’s take a look at some of the key advantages of social media marketing:

  • It doesn’t cost anything to setup your social profiles on the major networks.
  • Sharing links to your best and most interesting content will increase your website visitor numbers.
  • Increase brand awareness by simply joining the conversation, engaging your audience, and by publishing and promoting relevant content.
  • Promote special events, competitions, special offers and new product launches.
  • Use social media as an extra customer service option for your customers by responding to questions and feedback about your products and services.
  • Use professional networks such as LinkedIn to seek out new talent and forge professional relationships.

These are some of the most significant advantages that demonstrate what social media marketing can achieve. Now lets take a brief look at some of the most important social media networks that businesses are using.

Introducing the Social Media Big Hitters

Social Media Big Hitters

Facebook
www.facebook.com

facebookFounded by Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg in 2004, Facebook has grown to becom e the world’s largest social network. Only 10 years after its launch Facebook has grown to 1.35 billion active users and almost 900 million daily active users. Facebook announced in 2014 that 30 million small businesses have active pages on Facebook, with 19 million active on Facebook Mobile too. Additionally, 70% of B2B marketers claim that they have acquired customers through Facebook.

Facebook allows businesses to create business pages for promoting content and reaching out to both potential and existing customers. Users may create business pages for local businesses, brands, products, institutions or organisations. Facebook also provides its Insights tools for analytical information about your marketing activities with the platform.

As is the case with most of the major social networks, Facebook provides a paid advertising system that businesses can use to display adverts based on the browsing activities and habits of other users. Facebook adverts are compatible with both desktop browsers and the Facebook mobile app.

Twitter
www.twitter.com

twitterTwitter takes quite a different approach to social media, styling itself as a micro-blogging platform. Originally designed to be compatible with text messaging services, Twitter messages are limited to 140 characters. This makes the use of URL shorteners and hashtags a must for online marketers. These short messages are known as ‘tweets’, and they may be shared (re-tweeted) and responded to. The network currently handles around 500 million tweets every day, and there are over 230 million active monthly users.

Twitter has become the go-to social network for celebrities, politicians, journalists and businesses alike. With an emphasis on sharing newsworthy content, the average Twitter user follows at least five brands, and two thirds of users are more likely to purchase from brands that they are following. With a focus on mobile, some 78% of Twitter’s active users access the platform from mobile apps or the mobile website.

With its strict character limitations, Twitter can seem like a complicated network to get into. But armed with an understanding of how hashtags and URL shorteners work, you’ll be surprised by the amount of information that can actually fit into a single tweet! Twitter also provides a paid advertising program where businesses can promote their tweets for greatly increased exposure.

Google+
www.google.com

googleplusEstablished in 2011, Google+ is relatively new on the social networking scene. Despite its close connection with the search engine giant, it might come as a surprise that Google+ has already become one of the largest social networks in the world! In fact, counting at 1.2 billion, Google+ actually has a higher number of average monthly visits than Facebook, although it only has around 540 million active monthly users.

Google+ still takes a slightly different approach to social media, particularly with its Circles and Hangouts features. ‘Circles’ are designed to help organize different groups of connections, and ‘Hangouts’ allow live chat with your connections, supporting both one-on-one and group video conferencing.

Unsurprisingly, having a business page on Google+ will have a significant impact on your exposure in the search engine results. It is particularly useful for local businesses, since it is connected to Google Local listings and Google Maps. The Google+ community is also closely associated with visual media, and its audience responds particularly well to professional photography and video content.

LinkedIn
www.linkedin.com

linkedinLinkedIn is the world’s premier social networking platform for business professionals. Unlike its social media peers LinkedIn solely caters to professional and business profiles, making it by far the most important social network for B2B marketers. By the third quarter of 2014 LinkedIn boasted 332 million members, up by 36 million from the beginning of the year. LinkedIn serves a total of 200 countries and territories around the world, and 41% of visits are via the mobile app or website.

Although most valuable for B2B markets, LinkedIn is still useful for any type of business. LinkedIn can be used to build business partnerships, conduct competitive research and reach out to more serious potential customers. LinkedIn also serves as the world’s largest resource for seeking out new talent. Personal profiles on Linkedin are effectively online résumés that employers can search through to find new staff.

LinkedIn also provides a recommendations feature, allowing businesses to seek recommendations from customers for their products and services. It serves as a powerful way to build up brand authority and credibility and reach out to new clients.

Other Social Media Platforms

We’ve briefly touched on the heavyweight social media platforms, but there are plenty of others to consider,  including those that focus on video and image content to those that cater to specific niches or geographical regions.

Among the most important of all of the other networks is YouTube – the world’s third-most visited website and the number one resource for any kind of video content. YouTube allows its users to comment on content and subscribe to other users’s profiles. A quarter of YouTube’s traffic comes from mobile devices, and some 6 billion hours of video is watched on the site every month. Businesses use YouTube to provide everything from customer testimonials to product demonstrations.

youtube-info

Other important social networks include those that are primarily focused on image content. Pinterest is currently the largest among the visually orientated social networks with some 70 million users, around 80% of whom are women. Pinterest serves as an online pinboard of images, and is also fully compatible with mobile devices.

What’s Next?

We have taken a look at why social media is important for small businesses and provided a brief introduction to some of the most influential networks around. In the following chapters we will take a more in-depth look at making the most of Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn for marketing your business online.


  1. Chapter 1 – An Introduction to Social Media Marketing
  2. Chapter 2 – A Guide to Social Media Marketing on Facebook
  3. Chapter 3 – A Guide to Social Media Marketing on Twitter
  4. Chapter 4 – A Guide to Social Media Marketing on Google+
  5. Chapter 5 – A Guide to Social Media Marketing on Linkedin
  6. Chapter 6 – Planning for Social Media Success