By Brian Lindamood, Manta
Small-business owners have mixed feelings about social media marketing – and they're getting mixed results.
Social media is the digital marketing tactic that business owners rely on more than any other, according to a Manta poll. But another poll found that only 38 percent of owners invest in promoted posts and social advertising, and 48 percent of those do not see a positive return-on-investment on their social advertising.
Why the disconnect? The fact is, too many business owners still think of social media as being fast and free. It is not. Anyone who spends too little time or too little money marketing their business will be disappointed with the results.
But there's good news, too. While social media isn't free, it isn't expensive. An effective, affordable social media strategy is within reach for most small-business owners. Follow these three tips to boost your results and get the most bang for your social advertising bucks.
1. Target the Right Audience
The ability to reach a very specific niche audience is one of the best parts of social media advertising. Of course, the more specifically you define your audience, the smaller that audience will get. The trick is to find a happy medium. If your audience is too big, you'll be competing with bigger advertisers and your ad won't be shown as much; if your audience is too small, you might miss out on lots of potential customers.
All social media platforms allow you to target ads by location (from zip code to the entire country) and demographics (age, gender, language). You can also pick audiences based on which accounts they follow – or not. You may want to exclude your current followers from your ad spend (they're already your customers!), but you may want to target your competitors' followers.
On Facebook, advertising audiences can get even more specific. Target options can be set around a seemingly endless combination of data available on Facebook users, including…
- Job title.
- Consumer profile.
- Operating system.
- Insurance status.
- Credit history.
2. Build the Most Effective Ads
We've all seen – and ignored – boring, irrelevant ads on social media. To get your customers' attention, your ad needs to be visually engaging and speak to their interests.
On Twitter, a photo is a must, and you want to get the most out of those 140 characters with a compelling message. Instagram is all about great photos and videos; don't bother promoting an image that isn't the best representation of your business.
Facebook Ads give you more options to craft a complete ad. Make sure you include all of these elements to get noticed in followers' Facebook feeds:
- Company name. Use the same name you use on your Facebook business page. Your name will appear in bold text, followed by the word "sponsored," to identify the advertising message.
- Text. You have 155 characters to get your message across.
- Photo. The image takes up the majority of the ad space, so put your best look forward.
- Headline. Ad headlines are bold and 25 characters or less. Use them wisely.
- Link description. Let customers know what they will get when they tap or click the link you include. This is your last chance for a selling message.
- Link. This is the click-through link to your small business website.
3. Boost Your Best Performers
You don't have to spend a lot of money to boost a post or place an ad on social media. But even a tiny budget is wasted if it doesn't reach your target audience. The best strategy is to start small and then invest more of your budget in proven winners. For example, you can spend as little as $5 to promote a Facebook post. If its performance disappoints you, cut your losses and try to boost another post. But if your $5 pays off with better-than-expected engagement, add another $20 to the budget – or more. You'll know that you're investing to get more reach for a successful post that resonates with your followers.
Social media marketing is accessible and relatively easy for most small-business owners – but it's not free. By investing a small budget in ads and promoted posts and following these best practices, small-business owners can increase their engagement on social media, set realistic expectations for a positive return-on-investment, and turn more social followers in customers.
About the Author
Brian Lindamood, content director for Manta, is passionate about great marketing and management advice. Manta helps small business owners succeed on their own terms with educational resources and digital marketing tools that are simple and effective.