It may sometimes feel that maintaining a social media account for small- and medium-sized businesses is an uphill battle. How do you contend with your competitors when they have ten thousand followers, and you’ve just crossed that first hundred — or thousand — threshold?
What you may not realize is that you have an edge that those bigger businesses don’t have. They indeed have a wider reach and probably deeper pockets, but those factors don’t necessarily dictate how effective their social media marketing efforts are.
There are 7.75 billion people on the planet, and 3.8 billion are active social media users, according to a Digital 2020 report by We Are Social and Hootsuite. With almost half of the world on social media, the drive to perform well on the platforms of your choice is significant.
While your reach may not be as large as that big name brand next door, you have a greater chance of making an impact on individual people. With audiences turning a more critical eye on authenticity, and heavily-manufactured influencers’ lives coming more under fire for fake advertising, this is a good time to focus on building a bulletproof social media plan.
Pinpoint your business’ objectives and goals for your social media efforts. Take the time to study your competitors and decide what your social media voice should be, based on your brand and values.
Don’t be disheartened if ‘they’ seem to have it all figured out. Get started, and remember these advantages that your smaller business has:
Edge #1 – It is Easier to Stay Authentic
As a smaller outfit, your persona on social media may be viewed as more authentic and personal than a larger, bigger brand. People are becoming savvier online and looking for more authentic experiences and taking companies to account.
In 2017, Stackla published its consumer reports, which revealed that 86% of consumers greatly value authenticity in brands, and 20% may even unfollow a brand due to lack of authenticity.
But how does one stay authentic on social media? It may take even less effort than you think.
Focus on your intention. Don’t post something for “likes”; do not lean into clickbait captions or heavily manufactured photos and copy. Organic interactions are important; do not schedule something for posting and then forget about interacting with your followers.
You don’t need to be hip and witty to project authenticity. If your brand is after a more “curated” feel, staying true to your brand personality and values when you’re writing copy is important. Don’t be tempted to copy what your competitors are doing. Write from your heart, and be honest regarding your brand and products.
Of course, there’s another way you can put this rising focus on authenticity to good use for your brand: building relationships and letting your consumers be your advocates.
Edge #2 – It is Easier to Build Closer Relationships With Followers
If consumer-created content is seen as most authentic, focusing on creating closer relationships with your followers will help you work this to your favour. Forging these relationships is easiest while you’re still a small, manageable outfit. Every organic promotion and interaction becomes an opportunity.
If you see someone passionate about your small business, hang on to them. Remember that these promoters can help your social credibility and authenticity, in addition to being loyal, paying customers.
While you’re lean and need to be careful with your capital, taking care of organic promoters is your grassroots influencer marketing. While hiring a good influencer can definitely improve your brand, don’t forget that it’s even more important to cultivate your own authentic relationships with followers.
Edge #3 – It is Easier to Turn a Negative Experience Around
Younger, smaller players are always a little scrappy. We’re hungry and driven, so we’re willing to work a bit harder to get that extra point. The same is true for when mishaps happen, and something negative comes up. We’re all the more ready to make amends. And this rebound can be extra effective when it’s a small company doing it.
The reversal of a disgruntled customer’s experience can turn them into delighted customers who then become willing promoters of your brand. To prove that, a study in 2018 focused on airline and wireless carrier customers who tweeted negative reviews and experiences.
When these customers received a response – any response – from the airline or carrier, they were on average willing to pay $8 more per month for a plan (or $9 per airline ticket), than those who did not get responses.
Any response can help – it defuses the customer’s frustration, and connects a human person to the previously-nameless brand. A great response is even better.
This can yield great results further down the line – the above studies show that the favourable effect of responses last even six months after the experience. That kind of longevity is valuable when you’re playing the long game.
Edge #4 – It’s Easier to Coordinate with a Smaller Team
We’ve all been there: the huge meeting, where everyone has an opinion and nothing gets done at the end of the appointed hour. The meeting attendants resort to sending emails to clarify and finalize the action points.
Your smaller size is an advantage. Learn how to use it to win big! You don’t have a whole department to talk to coordinate publishing timelines, or a committee to approve marketing messages. You may have one or two people working on marketing and social media, making it easier to land decisions.
This agility is a significant advantage when dealing with current issues that your brand may have to address. In times like these, it’s important to get a single message across and to follow through on any messaging and interactions with your followers. A smaller team is agile and more flexible in dealing with a rapidly-changing market.
Don’t forget, however, that if you’re finding yourself stretched for time, don’t shy away from creating content calendars or hiring someone to handle your social media content. Speed is important, but consistency and reliability are also key when focusing on boosting your social media presence.
While it may look daunting starting something new when there are so many larger, more experienced businesses in your niche, every business has something unique at the heart of it: the founders.
Everyone brings a certain, unique voice to the table. In a small- or medium-sized business, that uniqueness will be easier to highlight than it is for a huge corporation. It can better attract potential customers for the honesty and authenticity it brings.
- Stay authentic. Your potential customers are more interested in hearing from authentic businesses than one that is “perfect”.
- Build closer relationships with your audience. This raises your social credibility and you get active promoters and advocates of your brand.
- Turn negative feedback and experiences around. Even a simple response to help defray customers’ frustrations can help.
- Get your marketing strategies out faster. Your smaller team will be able to adapt quickly and decide faster when it comes to important issues.
Your priority is to engage and build your audience, and they will bring you forward as you scale up your business. Don’t worry about the giants. They have their own margins to catch up on. It’s not a numbers game – it’s quality. And in social media, it’s quality that matters.