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7 Steps to Building a Social Media Strategy for Small Businesses

Social media has become an essential part of our lives. From staying in contact with friends and family to finding businesses and brands, we all use it for information, entertainment, and connection.

Social media has been critical for businesses to build an online audience and promote products and services, especially in today’s post-COVID era. Consumers are no longer just shopping in stores but are venturing online for inspiration and solutions and choosing to shop online. Consumers are embracing and purchasing from virtual shops, so small businesses need to establish a strong social media presence if they hope to reach their consumers.

How to create and manage social media content as a small retail business:

1. Set objectives

Your goals should be part of the planning stage for your social media activities, and they are set based on where your customers or audience are in their consumer journey or marketing funnel.

For a retail business, you’d want to target customers at each stage of the funnel and guide them from the Awareness to the Conversion stage.

When setting objectives, you can ask yourself the following questions:

  • What are you hoping to achieve? For example, are you using social media to raise awareness, increase followers, get more brand recognition or all the above?

  • Do you want to increase impressions, engagement, link clicks or website traffic?

  • What’s your goal for being online? Do you want to build a community so businesses and users can reach out to each other?

  • Is your objective to drive sales through Facebook, Instagram, TikTok or other platforms?

  • Do you want to showcase your amazing products or services and encourage the audience to explore more?

2. Understand your existing audience

Gaining a deep understanding of your audience – and what they most value – is key to developing content that is relevant and provides value. Researching your audience and developing buyer personas (detailed profiles of your ideal target audience) is one of the first critical steps in developing a social media presence.

Focus groups, surveys, and social listening are great ways to uncover your audience’s interests and understand what content they will best respond to. Your own social media and digital platforms are also great tools for understanding your audience.

For example, suppose you already have Facebook, Instagram or Google accounts. In that case, you have access to valuable demographic data such as age, gender and relationship status and behavioural insights such as hobbies, interests and times when your audience is online. These details are important because they help inform your marketing strategy.

But how do you make sure you’re targeting the right users? This is where target personas come in. Most often than not, businesses skip this stage because they think they know their products and they know their market well enough already.

However, target personas are not about your business, industry, or product. It’s about your customers and what they need. In simple terms, target personas are fictional characters that represent your ideal audience.

Generally, it’s best to have three to four target personas for your business. It’s also possible that your current customers are not part of your target personas list, so you would need to reconsider your messaging and targeting strategies.

When creating your target personas, thinking beyond demographics and behaviours is important. If possible, talk to your ideal audience directly and ask them about their pain points, motivations, long-term goals and challenges.

3. Find your brand voice

Now that you have your target personas, it’s time to decide how you speak and what you say to them. Your brand voice goes hand in hand with your brand values and must be consistent across all your platforms. Having a unique brand voice helps users understand what sort of company you are.

First, think about three adjectives you’d use to describe your brand. Secondly, think of types of content that align with your chosen adjectives and see if they resonate well with your target personas. As a best practice, 70% of your content should be adding value or helping your users, and only 30% is about you and your products. Whenever you develop content, ask whether the content 1. informs, 2. provides value or 3. entertains. If the answer is no to all three criteria, reconsider sharing the content.

4. Determine which platforms work for your brand

There are many social media platforms today, and you don’t need to be on all of them. The key is to be present where your target audience is.

To help you decide, here are the top seven social media platforms in Australia:

Facebook continues to reign supreme at 18 million users. It has several free features and tools you can use for your business:

  • Facebook Stories – videos and images that can be shared and viewed for 24 hours

  • Facebook Live – interact with followers in real time through live events and conversations or behind-the-scenes content

  • Facebook Messenger – messaging feature for answering questions and building one-on-one connections with customers

  • Facebook Groups – join relevant groups to contribute to discussions and provide value to your target audience

  • Facebook Action Button – Choose a call-to-action button that aligns with your page’s objectives

  • Facebook Shops – create an online storefront where customers can browse and buy your store without leaving the app

YouTube is next at 17.5 million users. Apart from being a powerful video social media platform, it’s also a valuable search engine platform so you can create content to answer your audience’s common questions or challenges.

Instagram comes third and shares features such as Stories, Live, Shopping and Messenger with Facebook. However, it focuses more on visually appealing images and videos.

LinkedIn is best for sharing corporate news or carrying out B2B marketing promotions and transactions.

Targeting a younger audience, Snapchat is best for sharing short temporary images and videos. What makes it unique are its special stickers, lenses and geo filters.

Twitter is known for short messages called tweets. It’s perfect for starting or participating in conversations around topics your audience cares about. You can use hashtags to look for relevant and trending topics that suit your business.

Lastly, we have TikTok, a relatively new social media platform that has exploded recently and is growing fast among the younger demographic. The great thing about TikTok is that you don’t need to present polished content. Instead, you must create something exciting and engaging and use a trending song to get views.

Bonus tip: Besides setting up social media accounts, it is also strongly suggested to set up your Google Business Profile.

There are 250,000 Google searches in Australia daily, and 46% of searches have local intent. This means people near your business are searching for you.

5. Create Content

Now that your social media pages are up, it’s time to start creating posts. Most businesses use a social media content calendar to plan and organise upcoming content.

Generally, you’d want to create a month’s content using an Excel spreadsheet or a physical calendar and schedule them in advance using Meta Business Suite and other paid software apps such as Hootsuite, Later or Pallyy.

A calendar is a great way to visualise what you want to post about. It also helps you understand which sales you have coming up and when to promote. Look at retail calendars to identify special shopping events and make sure you have content planned for these big sales such as Christmas, Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the End of the Financial Year.

Posts typically consist of text and assets. These assets can be photos, videos or a poll. Short and attention-grabbing video content is prioritised higher on social media feeds on most networks due to the success of TikTok.

Make sure you keep within the word limit for each platform and use engaging copy and visuals. If you’re just starting, try checking out Canva and find a range of easy-to-use image and video templates for your posts. You can use the free or paid version, depending on your needs.

Finally, don’t forget a call to action. Whether that’s to comment, share or click a link. You want to encourage users to engage with your brand as often as possible to help with your organic reach.

6. Post, respond, and manage

Don’t forget to check and regularly respond to your comments and questions. The quicker you respond, the more the algorithm will push your content to more audiences.

Businesses that respond in under 15 minutes on Facebook can earn the “Very Responsive” badge and display it prominently on their page. This is a good way of showing how you and your brand value customers.

There may be times when you’re busy and can’t respond right away. You can create automated responses on Facebook so you don’t leave your audience hanging. Your automated messages should let them know when you’re usually online and when they can expect a response from you and ensure you return to them as soon as possible. Setting expectations with your customers will help you avoid future issues.

7. Analyse data and results

It is essential to analyse the monthly performance of your page and content. Pay attention to audience growth, engagement, hashtag performance and changes in audience behaviour.

For Facebook and Instagram, reports can be found within Meta Business Suite under Insights. YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat and TikTok also have reports and insights available when you have a business account.

You might find that one post is doing much better than the rest of your content. Several possible reasons include the time it was posted, the caption or hashtag used, or the type of content. Compare and see what you did differently and apply your findings to your upcoming posts.

Final thoughts & takeaway

These steps will help in building an effective social marketing strategy. Although they are done chronologically, you don’t stop at the last stage. It’s not something you should set and forget.

With so many trends and platforms popping up each year, your social media creation process should be a cycle where you continuously review and improve your overall strategy and content.

If you’re a small business that needs help with your social media content, Leading Edge Retail can help. We provide free retail toolkits, including professional digital, social media, e-commerce and in-store collateral to our Members. Plus, for a small fee, our expert designers and copywriters can collaborate with you to customise marketing assets and content that fit your brand.


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