Social Media Analytics for Small Business

Once you’ve got your social media program up and running and you’re posting content on a regular basis, you may think you’ve got all of the pieces of the social media puzzle in place. Close, but not quite. The last key piece of your social media program is analytics—data you can use to improve what content you post on which channel and when. Each social media platform provides a different set of analytics, and third party social media management programs often provide their own analytics as well. Here are a few basic metrics that you can use to gauge your effectiveness on every social channel.

Followers

If you’re making it easy for people to follow you on social and posting great content, you should see a continual increase in followers on each of your social accounts over time. If you see a decrease in followers, you may want to rethink your content strategy, as people don’t generally unfollow an account unless they’re annoyed or offended by its content.

Likes

While likes go by different names on different social networks, they all mean the same thing: A follower enjoyed the piece of content you posted. For posts that have an especially high number of likes, make sure to look at when the post went live (day of the week and time of day) and what the content was so you can try to post other content that will be similarly engaging.

Comments

Comments can be an indicator of both positive and negative engagement: Usually people only take the time to comment on something they’re really excited about or really upset about. Some followers may also pose questions to you in comments. This makes it important not only to monitor the number of comments you receive, but also what kind of comments they are and what type of posts generate the most comments.

Shares

Shares are an even better indicator of engagement than likes or comments because they require a user to take an additional action. Shares impact the number of overall impressions a post receives, so the more shares you get, the greater your reach will be.

Clicks

If you’re posting links on your social channels, most platforms will provide a count of how many people clicked on them. If you use a URL shortener such as bit.ly to shorten your links, they’ll also provide analytics for you. Lastly, if you’re linking back to your blog or website, you’ll be able to see which visits came from your social media channels using Google Analytics or other website analytics programs you have in place.

Impressions

Impressions are equivalent to the number of eyes that land on your posts. The more your followers share your content, the more impressions you’ll receive. You can also boost your impressions by experimenting with posting times to see when on average you get the most views.

The Bottom Line

There’s a lot of valuable data available about your social media channels, but you have to actually do something with that data to make it count. By looking at a few key metrics, you can continue to optimize your efforts on social media nd make sure that the effort you’re investing in social pays off for your business.

How to Create Great Social Media Content for Your Small Business

Now that you’re done with all of the hard work of planning your programsetting up your profiles, and building your follower base, you’re ready to get started on the fun part of social media marketing: content!
Most businesses adhere to the 80/20 rule: 80% of the content you post on social should be informational or entertaining, and 20% of content should relate to business promotions, events, and updates. This strategy makes sense: If you share valuable content, your followers will be more willing to engage with your business-related posts than if you only sell, sell, sell to them on a regular basis.

The 20% of business-related content will come easy-but what about the rest? How do you create great social media posts that will engage your followers? The answer depends on a variety of factors. Here are a few to consider as you develop your content plan:

Start with Your Audience

What questions do your customers ask about your industry? What problems do they have that you can help solve? What topics of interest do you share in common with them? Thinking about your audience and what will engage them is the best way to come up with relevant content.

Consider Your Messaging

How can you present information to your audience in a way that’s compelling, appropriate, and reinforces your small business’s vision or mission? The way you convey information is just as important as the content you share. For example, if your small business provides financial services, your messaging will be very different than a small business who sells children’s clothing.

Capitalize on Your Blog Content

If you’re already writing articles for your small business’s blog, social media is a great way to promote that content and drive traffic back to your site.

Make the Most of Timely News Stories

People get excited about trending topics, whether they’re local news or national headlines. When it makes sense, feel free to share news articles with your followers and use them to start a conversation.

Share Articles from Relevant Sites and Blogs

Read an article for education? Watch an entertaining video? The content you find valuable will often be of value to your audience as well. If you’re a hair stylist who finds a great how-to article on a fancy up-do, share it! If you’re a restaurateur who reads an interesting piece on dining trends in the local area, share it! While your patrons may not work in your industry, that doesn’t mean they’re not interested in learning more about it.

Bring Your Business to Life with Photos and Videos

Reality shows are evidence that people love behind-the-scenes glimpses into other peoples’ lives. So why not share the inner workings of your business’s life? Photos and videos that give followers a better sense of your staff, your process, and your inspirations are great content to share—especially Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, and other visually-oriented social channels.

Showcase Customer Quotes and Accolades

Social networks are the new forum for word-of-mouth recommendations. If you’re getting great customer feedback via email, online review sites, or in person, you can highlight these comments on social media (if your customers aren’t sharing their feedback there already). You can also brag about awards and accolades you receive from other organizations; tagging those organizations in your posts gives you the opportunity to be reshared as well, which can get your business even more exposure.

The Bottom Line

The possibilities for social media content are endless. Just make sure to keep your audience in mind as you create and curate posts, and you’ll see your engagement metrics improve in no time!

How to Build Your Audience on Social Networks

Now that you have your social media profiles set up and ready to go, it’s time to start building your audience of followers. But how, exactly, does this happen, and what does it entail for you as a business owner?
In this article, we’ll cover a few different ways you can attract new followers to your social media profiles so that you can stay in touch and encourage first-time and repeat business.

Link to Your Social Accounts from Your Online Properties

The easiest way to gain followers is to make sure visitors to your online properties know you’re on social. Make sure to include links on your website, blog, and online listings pages. For consumers who already know and love you, all it takes is a visual reminder that you’re on social to prompt them to connect with you.

Include Your Social Handles and Links in Every Email You Send

Whether you’re sending an email to a business vendor or a current customer, you should be including links to your social media profiles. Most businesses include these links in the header or footer of their email templates.

Ask Customers During a Transaction

If someone has made a purchase, you know they’re interested in what you do and would likely be interested in what you have to say. You can verbally ask people to follow you on social during a transaction, or put a reminder card in their bag or on their receipt.

Post Great Content on a Regular Schedule

The more content you post, and the more valuable people find your content, the more likely you’ll be to gain new followers. This happens in two ways: current followers can share your posts with others, or social network engines can recommend your posts to other users based on your content (hashtags often contribute to this discovery method on networks like Twitter, Instagram, and Google+).

Engage in Conversation

In addition to posting your own great content, it’s important to take time to engage with your followers and comment on other peoples’ posts. The more you interact with others, the more meaningful your presence will be—and with shared activity on networks such as Facebook and LinkedIn, the conversations you have with your followers may be promoted to other non-followers, giving you the opportunity to gain new likes and follows.

Run Contests and Sweepstakes

Social advertising comes in a variety of formats and flavors, but contests and sweepstakes tend to be a more effective type of promotion to run because readers have the chance to get something in return for their follow. While there’s always a chance that some people will follow you just for the chance to win something, the majority of online users won’t like or follow a page unless they’re interested in what you do.

The Bottom Line

Making sure that it’s easy for potential followers to discover your social channels—and making sure you provide relevant, interesting content once they get there—will ensure that your follower count keeps growing month over month. Engaging in real conversations with your followers will help them stay engaged once they become part of your network.

How to Set up Your Small Business Social Media Profiles

Once you’ve done the hard work of deciding which social networks to join and nailing down your social media plan, your next step is to set up your profile on each platform. Again, it may seem pretty straightforward to enter your business information and choose a cover photo—but there are actually a few important things you might overlook when setting up profiles for the first time. Here are a few tips to help you get you off on the right foot:

1. Use a Consistent Business Name

Make sure the business name you use on all your social profiles is consistent and matches the name on your business website. The same goes for your handle or custom page URL: Choosing names that are as similar as possible is important to avoid confusing consumers and negatively impact your search rankings.

2. Choose Appropriate Categories

If you have the ability to select a business type or category, make sure you choose as many relevant categories as possible for your business type. If you can only choose one primary category, consider how your target audience will be searching for businesses like yours. For example, if you own a diner that also has takeout baked goods, you would probably want to select “diner” as your primary category rather than “bakery”.

3. Write Detailed Descriptions

Your description is your chance to tell current and prospective patrons your business’s story. How and why did you begin? What’s your mission? Who do you serve? Where are you located? Think of this section as your virtual company elevator pitch to online consumers. You’ve got a limited amount of space to words to work with, so make them count!

4. Select Your Photos Wisely

Your profile photo and cover photo should illustrate your business at a glance. Most businesses use their company logo as their profile image; you may need to modify your logo if it doesn’t work in the square dimensions that most social networks use.

Your cover photo gives you additional space to convey something about your brand, products & services, or customers. Be creative, and choose an image that works with the given dimensions.

Here’s a handy cheat sheet to help you size your profile and cover photos appropriately across the major social networks.

5. Include Your Menu or List of Products and Services

In addition to finding your basic business information, people want to leran about your individual products or services. When possible, make sure to include your menu or product/service list on your social media profiles to make it easy for consumers to make a decision then and there. (Hint: SinglePlatform makes this process super easy!)

6. Include Links to Your Online Channels

If you can, be sure to provide links back to your website, business blog, and other social media channels so that people can find you everywhere you happen to be online.

The Bottom Line

The more consistent and thorough your social media profiles are, the more information consumers will be able to get of them—and the more likely they’ll be to become followers.

[News] Yelp Listings Integrated with Yahoo Search

Here’s a highlight of some of the top local-business-related news of the week:

[Listings News] Yelp Listings & Reviews Now Showing in Yahoo! Search

News Source: The Next Web

There’ve been rumors for a few months about a potential partnership between Yahoo and Yelp; on Wednesday, those rumors came to fruition with the release of integrated Yelp listings, reviews, and star ratings within Yahoo search results.

Yelp photos and listings information is shown at the top of the results page, with star ratings and reviews beneath the basic business information—following a similar format to what Yelp shows on their own site. A list of regular search results appears next to the Yelp content.

Key Takeaway: Both Bing and Yahoo are now integrating Yelp listings into their search results, and Google is a step ahead of the pack with the release of integrated menus. If you haven’t claimed and perfected your business listings on major publishers yet, now is the time! Take advantage of the latest technology by making sure that accurate, engaging information about your business is everywhere potential customers are looking. 

[Social Media News] Facebook Rolls out New Design for Pages

News Source: Mashable

Facebook has been pushing a number of design changes to its site lately, including a complete News Feed overhaul. This week, they began rolling out an updated look for Business Pages as well.

The new design includes a large right column with Posts and a left column with information about the brand or company. This revised layout makes it easier to users to follow the flow of Posts in chronological order, without having to jump back and forth between two columns as the previous design required.

Page Administrators can also view a revamped Metrics section that includes Likes, Post Reach, ad stats; soon, this section will also include a Pages to Watch feature, which allows you to benchmark your Page’s stats against those of similar Pages in your industry.

Key Takeaway: While not everyone is thrilled about the News Feed redesign, the new Pages design definitely helps improve the flow of content and makes it easier for Page Admins to check up on their stats at a glance without having to click into the Insights panel. These changes should help small business Page owners present content more effectively, and help their followers interact with their content more seamlessly.

[Ecommerce News] Instagram Grows as an Ecommerce Tool

News Source: NY Times

Instagram has long been used to share photos with friends, family, and strangers across the web, but it was never designed to be an ecommerce platform. However, businesses are now taking advantage of the social network to engage consumers with visual marketing and drive online purchases.

For Fox and Fawn, a local small business in Brooklyn, Instagram marketing was purely an experiment at first. Now, after a year and half of posting, the store sees 20-40% of its daily revenue coming from purchases made by Instagram followers.

Other brands have also found ecommerce success on Instagram, citing that the platform feels more “intimate” and “personal” than Facebook or Twitter, where brands tend to sell more directly to consumers via ads or sponsored posts.

Key Takeaway: The power of visual marketing isn’t going away any time soon, and Instagram is taking off as a great social network for both shoppers and marketers alike. If you sell items for your small business online, Instagram might be a good platform for you to try out if you aren’t already.

Other news catch your eye this week? Leave a comment and let us know! 

How to Choose the Right Social Networks for Your Small Business

Most articles written about social media focus on what kind of content you should be posting and when you should be posting it to maximize your business’s reach and your followers’ engagement. But there’s an equally important item to consider before you even start creating posts: Which networks should your business be on?
The number of social networks—and number of people using each network—is growing every year, giving business owners more options than ever to connect with consumers online. However, no individual small business has the marketing bandwidth to curate content for every social network out there. So how to you decide where to invest your time and energy?

A Few Things to Consider

1. Your Industry

Think about consumers in your particular industry. What are their interests? Where do they tend to spend time online? What kind of content are they looking for? Based on the answers to these questions, you’ll be able to select the social networks that will appeal most to your intended audience.

2. Your Strengths

Do you write killer articles on your business’s blog? Do you spend after-hours taking photos of your products, or creating behind-the-scenes video tours of your store? Do you collect inspirational quotes and love sharing them with others? Whatever medium excites you, make sure to join the social networks that take advantage of your passion. Posting should be fun, not a chore!

3. Your Time

The limiting factor in social media marketing is usually time. How many hours a week can you reasonably dedicate to posting content, fielding customer service requests, and interacting with followers? From there, you’ll be able to determine how many networks you can maintain-without sacrificing your sanity.

A Profile of the Top Social Networks

Social networks like Facebook and Twitter have become ubiquitous; others are growing rapidly, but aren’t as widely known. Below is a brief profile of the most widely-used social networks.

Facebook

  • Number of active users: 1.1 billion
  • Demographics: 67% of adults in the US use Facebook; appeals more to women, 18-29 age bracket
  • Content: News, stories, photos, videos

YouTube

  • Number of active users: 1 billion
  • Demographics: 67% of adults in the US use YouTube; appeals more to women, 18-34 age bracket
  • Content: Videos

Google+

  • Number of active users: 343 million
  • Demographics: 24% of adults in the US use Google+; appeals more to men, 18-34 age bracket
  • Good for: News, stories, photos, videos

LinkedIn

  • Number of active users: 259 million users
  • Demographics: 20% of adults in the US use LinkedIn; appeals to 35-54 age bracket, men, higher income and education
  • Content: News, business-related information, job listings

Twitter

  • Number of active users: 232 million
  • Demographics: 16% of adults in the US use Twitter; appeals to 18-29 age bracket, urban residents
  • Content: News, photos, videos

Instagram

  • Number of active users: 150 million
  • Demographics: 13% of adults in the US use Instragram; appeals to 18-29 age bracket, women
  • Content: Photos, short videos

Pinterest

  • Number of active users: 70 million
  • Demographics: 15% of adults use Pinterest; appeals to women, more affluent user base
  • Content: Photos, GIFs, infographics, other visual content

Vine

  • Number of active users: 40 million
  • Demographics: Younger audience, mobile users only
  • Content: Short videos

The Bottom Line

Choosing which social networks your small business will be a part of is the first step on the road to success. Consider your audience, business needs, personal interests, and features of existing social channels. Then you’ll be able to nail down which networks you want to invest in for the long haul.

Social Media Marketing for Small Business

By now, pretty much everyone with an internet-enabled device belongs to at least one social network. It’s where we go for news, entertainment, conversations, and information. It’s an integral part of our everyday lives, and it’s where we expect to connect with people, brands, and businesses.
You likely already have a social media account or two set up for your company. But having an active profile and actually using it to benefit your small business are not one in the same. Learning how to connect with your followers in a meaningful way that has a positive impact on your business takes time, planning, and commitment. That’s what social media marketing is all about.

What Is Social Media Marketing?

Social media marketing involves sharing content across social networks that users will then share with each other. Social media marketing serves multiple purposes:

  • To increase a brand’s online visibility and presence
  • To position a brand as an expert in a particular industry
  • To stay top-of-mind with customers and connect with potential customers
  • To drive traffic back to your business’s website or blog
  • To drive consumers to an e-commerce experience where they can make a purchase
  • To let followers know about new items, offers, events, and specials that will drive in-store business

How Do I Develop a Social Media Marketing Program?

Creating a social media marketing program is, on the surface, pretty simple. But the devil lies in the details, as the saying goes, and the details are what make social media marketing a challenge—but also a lot of fun. These are the basic steps involved in developing a social media marketing program:

  • Goal-setting: Think about what you hope to achieve with social media, where your customers are most active online, and what types of content will have the most impact on your audience.
  • Select your networks: Choose the social networks you’re going to join.
  • Create profiles: Set up consistent, detailed profiles on each network.
  • Follow people and invite followers: Connecting with other social media users is the best way to promote others to follow you as well. You should also make it easy for people to find your social accounts on your website, blog, and listings pages.
  • Share content: Whether it’s original content or relevant articles, photos, quotes, and videos, the content you share should be interesting and useful to your followers.
  • Track your performance: Look at the analytics provided within each social network and the traffic back to your website and blog from your social channels to assess what you can be doing better.

What’s the Benefit of Social Media Marketing?

Just because a particular marketing technique tends to be popular doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s worth doing. In the case of social media, though, your efforts will be well rewarded. A few reasons why social media marketing is worth your while:

  • Social networks are the online marketplace for word-of-mouth marketing. The more active you are in a social network, the more motivated people will be to share positive feedback with other users who might also be interested in your business.
  • Social media marketing isn’t just about selling your products or services. It’s about developing a community around the industry you’re a part of or the problems you help solve. Being a part of a dynamic conversation, rather than just talking at an end user you never interact with, is exciting stuff!
  • Social media marketing can help you reach a large audience without taking a huge bite out of your budget.
  • The conversations you have on social can help you identify improvements for your business and find the sweet spot for special offers, events, and deals. You can even field impromptu surveys to ask specific questions to your followers.

The Bottom Line

Social media marketing is is a simple concept that becomes complex during implementation. Now that you’ve got the basics down, we’ll delve more deeply into specific aspects of social media marketing to help you get even more out of your investment of time and effort.

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