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Your Small Business On Social Media: Create Engaging Content in 5 Steps – And Avoid 1 Big Pitfall

Does your business have a Facebook page? A Twitter account? How about Instagram and LinkedIn? Social Media Marketing confuses many small business owners. Don’t be scared! Learn the facts and take your small business to the next social level. Start engaging your audience today in 5 simple steps. But first, learn more about the big social media pitfall…

The Big Pitfall of Social Media Marketing

Social Media Marketing is the business must-have of our time. Platforms like Facebook offer great opportunities to target a very big audience with very little investment. And still, many small business owners fear going social. Or they do it half-heartedly, creating a confusing social presence that puts people off rather than turning them on.

The interweb is full of advice to create a Social Media strategy, content ideas and tools to manage your Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter accounts all at once. But here’s the thing: If you just copy the advice, recycle content ideas and put the same stuff on all of your networks, you won’t succeed.

Social networks might be virtual, but their audience is human. Real people. Like you and me. And we want to hear from you in a very real way.

The Benefits of Social Media Marketing

Social media gives you the chance to connect to your clients as an audience in a unique way. Think of it as a room filled with billions of people, but you can talk to each of them face to face, keep up a personal conversation. There’s a problem, though: you’re not the only one to try and do this. Let’s face it, social media users are being constantly besieged by marketing professionals and influencers, trying to get their attention, their likes and shares.

For many small business owners, this is a scary prospect. So scary that many of them don’t even try to get social, fearing the competition. But listen up, you social sceptics!

According to Social Media Today,

  • 90% of B2B businesses increased exposure thanks to social media
  • 72% of a brand’s Twitter followers will probably make a future purchase from that brand
  • 69% created a loyal fan base
  • 50% of B2B businesses actually report reduced marketing expenses

Yes, it takes some effort, time and money to create a successful social media campaign. But these numbers show that investing in social media marketing pays off. More than that: it might actually reduce your marketing expenses.

How To Create Engaging Content in 5 Steps

With 47% of all internet users worldwide being on Facebook, it is relatively easy to gain exposure through social networks. People may register your ads and posts. Kudos to you if they „like“ - or even better, „love“ – them. But the holy grail of social media marketing is getting people to spread the word: to share your content.

What triggers people to do that? Think of yourself: When do you click the “share” button? Only if you connect with the content on a very personal level. And that’s exactly what you have to do: To get people’s attention, you need to take them seriously.

1. Create Something of Value

You need to create something of real value to your audience. Be it important information, a story that relates to them, or just makes them laugh. There are many guidebooks and thousands how-to-create-the-best-content articles out there. But the truth is, there is no recipe that will guarantee you social success. On the contrary, you need to be unique - you need to create something of real value. Do the thing, the one thing only you and your business can.

There is no recipe for successful social media marketing. Just the one: You need to create value.

Once you have acknowledged that, there are some guidelines that will help you along the way. Read on and learn some of the basic rules to create successful posts, tweets or whatever your social network of choice calls them.

2. Use Visuals like Images, Videos or Infographics

The numbers are pretty clear: visual information has more impact than written words, no matter the medium. Because,

  • three days after hearing a piece of information, you will remember only 10% of it; if the information is accompanied by a visual, you’ll remember 65%, according to Brain Rules by John Medina.
  • if a tweet comes with an image, it will be retweeted 150% more often than a tweet without an image, according to Buffer.
  • a Facebook post with an image will see 2.3 times more engagement than without, according to Buzzsumo.

But please, don’t just add any random image or infographic just to have a visual. Yes, this might improve attention rates and get people to register your business. But it won’t speak to them from the heart of your business (unless at the heart of your business lie carelessness and lack of ideas). Only carefully selected visuals will get the desired engagement. And, who knows, maybe NOT using an image will be the thing that makes you stand out, create attention and a fan base. Rules are rules – but sometimes you must break them to be unique.

3. Choose Your Social Network

According to Statista, Facebook has had 1.8 billion active users in 2016, which makes it the most popular social network right now. In comparison: Tumblr has 555 millions, Instagram 500 millions and Twitter 313 million active users, currently trending downwards. This makes Facebook the obvious choice – at least in terms of global reach. But think again: What kind of audience do you want? Size matters less than you think.

If you’re a photographer, you might consider Instagram as your primary network; if you want to reach business professionals, LinkedIn with 200 million professional users might be just as important. There are many more specialized networks out there, which could be the ideal platform for your business. Choose your network – and then create your content accordingly.

4. Know Your Social Network

Instagram and Snapchat focus on visuals, Twitter has a character limit of 140, and Facebook has other limits. Know your social network - and then start to play with it. Right now, Facebook is the largest social network – and also the most engaging, according to Forrester. But here’s another interesting fact: For many Americans today, social media have become a major provider of news. This changes the way network functions – and the way it’s audience needs to be talked to. To know your network you need to know what it’s users want, when they want it. And to get there, you need to find the numbers. Sites like Statista or the PewResearchCenter are a good starting point to do this; content-trackers like Buzzsumo let you track the most shared content for any topic on any network, so you can see what’s working – and what’s already been done. Because you don’t want your social presence to be a recycling bin, do you?

5. Target Your Audience

Who does use which social network? When? **And why do people even use social networks? To be social, yes, but mostly to be entertained; to take a break:**According to Pew, 34% of office workers sneak into Facebook & Co. to take a mental break from work, 27% to connect with friends and family, and 24% to make or support professional connections. This is important to know to target your audience. Be clear about who you want to talk to, what they want and why they want it.

The challenge of social media marketing is getting people’s attention – but the goal is to turn your audience into your customers. You don’t necessarily have to go viral and reach millions, if you get to the right people at the right time – and provide them with something valuable only you can create.

The challenge is getting attention. But the goal is to get customers.

Granted, this might take some effort, and it probably won’t happen on day one. Keep working, trust your instincts, and enjoy experimenting. Start lean, go slow and proceed with passion – step by step, post by post. And once you get the hang of it, you will not only gain an audience, but clients. And very loyal ones at that.

How about you? What is your favorite social network? And what triggers you to you like, follow or share content?

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