By George Farris
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – “Be careful what you wish for.” Have you heard that before? Sure you have.
If you owned a small business or handled its marketing in the 1980s or 1990s, I’ll bet you wished for a new type of media. You wished you could reach your market in some less expensive way than traditional media like local TV and radio, billboards, newspaper and direct mail.
As long as you are wishing, why not wish that new media are not just less expensive but free? Abracadabra, your wish came true – a new medium was born – social media!
LinkedIn invited business owners and employees to connect online in 2003. Facebook opened its digital doors in 2004. YouTube followed in 2005. In 2006, a little bird began tweeting at Twitter. Instagram began a new social image in 2010.
In the last 20 years, social media audiences in the United States have grown exponentially. LinkedIn has 64 million users. Twitter, even after Elon Musk took over, has 77 million. Both are dwarfed by the super tankers of social media: YouTube – with 246 million users, Instagram with 143.4 million and Facebook with 175 million users.
Are businesses marketing to these groups? Of course. The markets are too big to ignore. And while a certain type of business may favor one platform over the other, there are plenty of choices.
According to Statista, five platforms get most of the action from marketers. As of January, Facebook was the most used social media platform among marketers worldwide – with 90% of responding social media marketers using the network to promote their businesses, while another 79% did so via Instagram. LinkedIn, the smallest of the big five, is popular with 61% of marketers, followed by YouTube with 51% and Twitter with 43%.
With that big an audience, it should be easy for a small business to get noticed and get new customers. Right? Wrong. Forbes says social media is the No. 1 task most business owners would outsource if they could. That’s because creating social media messages that get noticed, that engage customers and drive business is a very time-consuming job.
Even if a business owner carves out the time to create the posts, he is unsure WHAT to post. Designing and writing creative and engaging posts is challenging even for professionals. But the biggest challenge is coming up with ideas for the content of the messages – because content is still king.
Score, formerly the Service Corps of Retired Executives, offers some quick tips that small-business owners can use to create content for their social media posts:
• Case studies. Ask customers to describe how your product or service helped them accomplish their goals.
• Testimonials from customers.
• Photos of your recent work.
• Updates to your offerings – new products or services.
• Changes like extended summer hours of operation.
• Announcements of upcoming events, online and offline.
• Employee profiles.
• Awards and accolades your company receives.
• Help customers get more from your products with a tip of the day.
• Link to news stories relevant to your industry.
• Solicit your audience for advice, suggestions and recommendations.
• List of happenings and events.
• Gift ideas. Make suggestions relevant to your audience.
You can Google many more tips. But none matter if you don’t use them. Do the work. You’ll get results.
Next time, be careful what you wish for.
Editor’s note: George Farris is CEO of Farris Marketing. Email him at [email protected].