Social media challenges for small business owners

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As a small business owner, you face many challenges on a daily basis. From cash flow to order fulfillment, from invoicing to payroll, you wear many hats over the course of one day.

I work with small business owners to help them to market their businesses, and I am one myself. I hear the same challenges come up time and time again for small business owners when it comes to marketing, so I thought I’d talk a little about them, and offer some solutions.

First off, I’m sure I don’t need to convince you that social media is a valuable part of your small business’ marketing strategy.

You probably already have a website for your business, and maybe you’re doing some advertising with local media. Perhaps you’ve started a Facebook page, or a Twitter or an Instagram account. That’s great! These tools are relatively low-cost, and they have the ability to reach huge audiences. Facebook alone currently boasts 2 Billion active monthly users, while Instagram trails slightly behind at around 800 Million active monthly users. It’s a huge market, and can be a very successful marketing strategy if you can tap into it.

But let’s look at some of the things that might keep you from realizing your full marketing potential on social media.

Time. Time is a challenge for all business owners. Simply put, there’s never enough time in the day to get things done. I often find with many business owners, marketing ends up on the bottom of their priority lists, because there are fires that need to be put out—customers to deal with, employees to be paid. Marketing often fits into the “when I have a moment” category, but those moments are far and few between.

The solution, simply, is to set aside time every day to do your marketing. It doesn’t have to be much. 20-30 minutes per day can go a long way towards making sure you have a consistent presence on social media.

Another option is to batch your social media marketing efforts. I take a couple of hours every week (on Monday morning) to schedule up content for the week: one post per day to Facebook, three tweets per day to Twitter, and three Instagram posts per week. There are some great tools out there that can help you to do this with ease. I like Hootsuite and Buffer. Facebook has its own built-in scheduler for pages that you can take advantage of.

Consistency. Many businesses enthusiastically start up a Facebook Page, because, especially at the beginning, they have so much to say! After a while, though, they start to run out of ideas, or they get busy, and the page dries up. In order to be successful on social media, you have to be consistent. That may mean posting to Facebook every second day, or it might mean posting 3x per day, but consistency is the key.

Scheduling your posts in advance can really help with this, as you won’t find yourself in a “oh, man, I forgot to post to Facebook today, and I have no idea what to post!” situation.

Content. Okay. So, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. Let’s say you’ve committed to posting to your social media on a daily basis. At first, you’ll have lots of ideas, but after a while, you might start to run dry. Here are some ideas to help you to consistently create content.

80/20 rule: 80% of your content should be related to your business or brand, but not directly about it. 20% of your content should be directly related to your business (sales, giveaways, shameless self-promotion, etc). The other 80% should be content that your audience is going to find valuable. If you’re an accountant, for example, supply your audience with valuable tips about how to save money at tax time, how to better organize their accounts, or productivity apps/hacks.

Editorial Calendar: Look at the calendar for holidays or seasonal hot topics, especially if they fit with your business.

Themed daily posts: choose a theme for each day of the week, and then create content around that. For example, you could do #MotivationalMonday (share an inspirational quote), #TipTuesday, #WellnessWednesday (share a holistic wellness tip), #ThrowbackThursday, and #FunFriday.

Content Curation vs Content Creation: Content creation is anything that comes out of your head. This is challenging, as you may run out of ideas. Content curation is when you share other people’s content that’s related to your brand and is valuable. It’s a great way to come up with content that you simply share—it creates consistency, but you don’t have to come up with the original ideas, you simply choose the best ones to share.

Algorithm: one of the biggest challenges facing small businesses on social media today is the algorithms that determine what gets seen in the newsfeed, and what doesn’t. Both Facebook and Instagram have them, and they are partly determined by popularity.

Ask questions: the algorithm loves engagement, so every comment, like or share on Facebook drives your post to be seen by more people. Engage with your audience, don’t just talk AT them.

Buy ads: boosting a Facebook post is cheap (even $5-10 can have a significant effect) and very effective.

Post native videos: Facebooks loves video, especially if it’s Facebook Live video, or video that you’ve uploaded to Facebook. It ranks very high in the algorithm, so create some video for your business today! It can be something as simple as a digital slideshow of photographs with music playing underneath.

I hope you’ve found these tips for managing your social media valuable. What’s your best tip for small business owners? Leave it in the comments below.

To hear more social media tips from Rebecca listen to her latest podcast interview with Ed Kless.

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