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North Hills Monthly

Small Businesses Benefit from Getting Social

Oct 29, 2020 07:15PM ● By Jennifer Monahan

Love it or hate it, social media is here to stay. As many businesses struggle to stay afloat during the pandemic, social media platforms offer one of the most cost-effective ways for small business owners to reach their customers.

Meghan Speer, vice president of Marketing Support Network, said social media can be an excellent resource for small businesses.

“Why not take advantage of free tools?” said Speer. “Social media takes time and business owners need to be invested in the process, but when you compare cost-effectiveness with any other medium, social media wins every time.”

Speer has spent more than a decade working in marketing and social media. For the last two years, she has led Marketing Support Network’s efforts to help organizations of all sizes market and grow their business.

Social media can be an effective tool, Speer explained, because it allows organizations to engage with their customers and clients.

“People tend to focus on the marketing, and to forget that the first word in ‘social media’ is ‘social,’” explained Speer. “It can be such an effective tool to rally support for and to create community around an organization.”

Social media gives business owners the ability to really understand who their clients and audience are, and to create connections and relationships with those people.

Speer offered three tips that she thinks every small business owner should know:

1. The days of all-organic posts are gone.

Marketers used to be able to see good returns on free social media posts, but today, leaders must employ a hybrid strategy by producing great content and sharing via free posts, while also utilizing some paid advertising (such as a Facebook boost) when it makes strategic sense.

2. It has to be someone’s job to respond to social media messages.

Organizations cannot just produce content; they also must respond to comments or private messages that come in through social media. Customers who contact an organization by private message expect a response; having a team member with responsibility for monitoring and responding to incoming social media communications is integral to successful marketing and branding.

3. Your brand matters.

Not every image or post has to be beautiful, but quality matters. Reposting a meme that is pixelated or putting out sloppy content reflects badly on the brand. Creating thoughtful, intentional content is key to using social media effectively.

Speer said no single social media tool fits every business.

“Choosing the best social media platforms depends on the audience—although Facebook is a given, because of the way that search engines work,” Speer said.

As an example, she explained that—in addition to Facebook—it would make sense for a local florist to utilize Instagram and Pinterest. Instagram is photo-based and perfect for sharing beautiful images of flowers, while Pinterest is a great platform to showcase pictures of the florist’s work within the larger story of a wedding. A law firm, on the other hand, might utilize LinkedIn and Twitter instead of more visual platforms.

Conversely, Speer said, “It makes no sense for an insurance agent to market their business on TikTok, because that audience does not care about insurance—it’s not why they’re there.”

When strategizing about platforms, she often tells business owners, “You don’t have to be everywhere, but you have to be excellent where you choose to be.”

Speer understands that some business leaders are wary of social media.

“People are sometimes worried that if they use social media, someone will post something negative,” she said. “But if they do, you can address it publicly, and that helps your audience know who you are.” 

Ultimately, she said, “The benefits are worth that risk, especially if social media is helping you build and grow your business.”

Social media marketing requires some investment. Business owners must put in time up front to create a strategy,  and the learning curve for maintaining a website and social media accounts is another consideration. Leaders should expect to make a financial investment in advertising, regardless of whether they are using Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn.

The costs may be lower than business owners expect, however. Speer explained that Marketing Support Network has clients that see effective returns on social media marketing for as little as $20 per week, while other small businesses might invest $1,000 a month to yield more results.

“The great thing about social media is that you can start small and see what works,” Speer explained. 

With minimal risk, small business owners can tweet, post and pin their way to building a loyal community of support—an important component of running a successful small business in 2020.