Many small businesses believe (or hope) that creating a Facebook and Twitter page will get them more sales fast. WRONG. Just having a presence on social media is simply not good enough. It takes time and genuinely interesting content to gain the attention of your target audience.
There’s an element of chicken and egg about this. You need the search engines to rank you highly but they won’t do that if your site is static and the content doesn’t change. You need to demonstrate expertise and insight and provide regular, fresh and useful content then tell people about it. I’m often asked whether this is giving away the family jewels. I prefer to call it ‘give to get’. To some extent, you have to showcase your knowledge. Not everyone will be in position to take your advice anyhow and a percentage of those that simply don’t have the time will make an enquiry.
So, to convert web visitors to potential customers, you first need to attract them through content that’s relevant to their needs and to what they’re seeking. And you mustn’t forget that search engines are only part of the job. If you build up a decent following on other platforms such as LinkedIn (connections), Twitter (followers), Instagram and so on, you have a greater chance that potential influencers will favourite and share your content thereby providing another means of generating web traffic. It’s a numbers game with a twist. You also need relevant connections and followers and to provide pertinent content that encourages these contacts to share and that encourages the search engines to sit up and take notice of your site.
Below are our 3 Essential Content Marketing Tips for Small Businesses
Create and Post Quality Content
Sound obvious and it’s what I said earlier. But what’s the quality content I hear you ask? There are so many options here and it depends both on what capabilities you have to produce content and what your customers would best respond to. Do you have the wherewithal to produce videos? Video marketing is huge. YouTube is growing massively and you can’t ignore its importance for search. And, it’s so much quicker and easier to watch a 3-minute video than to read a blog. But if you don’t have the ability to make videos and make them reasonably professional (they don’t all need to be glossy expensive versions – you can use your webcam, iPad, or phone for some), you may be better sticking to writing. Maybe you have a face and voice for the radio! In which case, perhaps a podcast could be the answer. If you’re like me, you can allocate time to writing a blog like this one. I do that a minimum of once a week. Clearly, if your business is visual (interior design, architects, fashion, etc), you need lots of pictures.
This is a very good article on the different types of content from Sprout Social
Whatever the type of content you select, think about what’s best for your customers. What would they want to learn about? Produce content about things that are relevant to them and their needs not just about you and your products. Product and service information is important but it can be boring and similar to your competitors. Supplement that with a white paper, video, podcast, infographic, or blog on a current topic. Providing content about the challenges your customers have will not only demonstrate that you understand but prove that you have the expertise and solutions for them. Over time, this content will help drive inquiry levels and, if keywords are used within your content, the SEO value will increase boosting your web rank. In an ideal world, you need a blend if you want to make social media and content marketing work for your business.
Remember: All Social Media posts must be keyword-rich (but don’t litter every article with the same keywords or Google won’t like it) and interesting to encourage a click on the URL of the relevant article to take them to your website or to other social pages.
Work out the Key Social Channels for your Customers and Post Regularly
How regularly should you post on your website and social media? Where should you spend your time? And, when should you post? There is no one answer. Ideally, the more content distribution the better as long as it’s good content and in the right places. You need to think about your audience. That will differ by platform. Business customers differ from individual consumers. Facebook is fundamentally different to Twitter and Twitter doesn’t have the same dynamics as LinkedIn. And Instagram and Pinterest are different again. When might your customers be looking at social media to find out information for their needs?
This is a great Infographic (another good type of content) from Sprout Social on the days and times to post for each main social platform. It’s worth a read to understand the best times to post on social media platforms relevant for your audience.
Don’t let your followers forget about you! Posting should be carried out daily if possible and at key times. There are plenty of tools out there to help you schedule. Some tools are free or have basic packages and others are a bit more expensive if you need more functionality. They will help you to schedule content and save time rather than doing things manually.
Ultimately, that’s only worthwhile if you have something relevant to post. There’s no point trotting out a constant stream of the same tweets. That’s like spamming by social media. Vary the wording and remember that your headline is like an advert in that it needs to generate interest. Use fresh content to distribute even if it’s just signposting followers to interesting content elsewhere. And don’t forget tools such as hashtags so your posts can quickly be referenced and found.
For business customers, the best times to post are usually first thing in the morning, around lunch time and before they leave work. However, this will differ depending on lots of factors. The Infographic above recommends analytics tools to identify the best times for each platform and audience so your content gets maximum exposure.
Don’t over-sell on Social
No one likes being sold to, so why would they want to be bombarded with sales and product messages on social media? Instead of overtly flogging your services why not compose a blog to show that you are experts within your field. For example: if you have opened a beauty salon and want to provide great content to your audience, why not compose 10 health and beauty tips to help your customers? If you are an independent travel agent, how about tips for traveling with kids in the summer holidays? Or the best places to visit in Greece?
It’s fine to post promotions, offers, and discount codes online. However, if that’s all you do alongside boring sales and product messages, your customers will quickly switch off. Put yourself in their shoes. What would they value? How can you help them with their challenges and their decisions? By doing that, and including periodic promotions, you’re more likely to gain traction, encourage them to share your content, and generate essential additional web traffic to your site through referrals and higher search ranking.
If you’d like to know how GSA Business Development can help generate growth for your business or book one of our new business development and marketing strategy workshops, contact us now on 0845 658 8192 or use the form on this site.