Checking our social media accounts for notifications has become a regular part of American life. You wake up, you brush your teeth, you check out what’s been going down on Facebook while you were asleep. In fact, the GlobalWebIndex estimates that 30% of our time spent online is spent on social media. That’s a lot!

This gives businesses a tremendous opportunity for marketing through ads and through branded posts or promotions. Social media leveled the marketing playing field better than any other trend in history. Allowing even the smallest of businesses to jump in on the action for free or considerably cheap.

Still, small businesses and single entrepreneurs are sometimes hesitant to jump in the game. They fear the learning curve will be too strong, the cost too great or the whole thing too time-consuming. Well, fear no more, we’re about to drop some social media marketing knowledge around the most frequently asked questions.

Here are the top 7 social media questions that small business owners need to know.

Here Is Your Social Media FAQ:

1. Do I Have To Be On ALL The Social Media Platforms?

Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Snapchat, YouTube, Twitter – the list of popular social media platforms it getting longer all the time. It can seem overwhelming.

The good news is, no, you do not need an account for each social media platform out there. Not even for each of the most popular ones! In fact, doing so might even be a bad idea for a small business. A large corporation with a huge marketing department can pull it off, but let’s stick to realistic expectations. Each social platform has its own unique audience demographic and fulfills different goals. Your brand simply won’t belong on all of them.

So how do you pick the right ones to dominate in?

First, make sure you really know who your ideal customers are. Next, research where they hangout online. You’ll find the Instagram and Snapchat skew younger than Facebook and Pinterest, for example. Twitter is more for opinion and news, while Instagram is focused on beautiful content and video. Facebook gives you a broad age range with a large geographical reach and gives you multiple ways to connect with customers and share content. Choose the top two or three that fit with your product or service. Make sure you pick the same username for all the accounts and use your businesses brand guide to make sure colors and styles look similar across all accounts.  

2. Is My Product Or Service Too Boring For Social Media?

The truth is, not all services and products are “sexy”. We are not all selling vacations, trendy fashion or makeup.

But don’t worry, the internet has room for everyone. If H & R Block can make taxes interesting enough on social media, you can make your product look great too!

If your product isn’t pretty, focus on social media that doesn’t rely so heavily on images. This still leaves you powerful marketing opportunities on places like Facebook and Twitter. Also, you won’t just be slinging promotions all the time.

You’ll want to share valuable content from other sources, make DIY or FAQ videos for your products and other useful or valuable content.

3. How Much Time Does Social Media Take Each Day?

In social media, you get back what you put in. Social Media can take just a few minutes per day or it can take hours. Posting photos might be quick and easy but the real magic happens when you create unique content and when you actively engage with your audience. This means spending time liking posts, leaving comments, answering comments and reaching out to people. You can outsource some of this work to take some of the burden off of yourself.

4. How Much Does Social Media Marketing Cost?

All of these social media platforms are 100% free to join and use. However, you can spend money creating content, outsourcing work and running ads. Compared to newspaper and TV spots, internet marketing on social media is an insanely good deal. Running ads on Facebook right now is the most popular strategy but Instagram is quicky catching up. You are in complete control of your ad spend budget and can make course corrections if your ad campaign is veering off track. If you are a very tiny company just starting out, start by building your audience organically before running ads.

5. Can’t I automate Everything?

Automation is a powerful tool in business, allowing you to scale up quickly and be more efficient. Automation in social media is a double edged sword. You can use third party applications to schedule posts in advance. Make sure to use a trusted partner such as Tailwind, Social Sprout or Buffer. These are paid tools with a low monthly fee. The engagement, however, really needs to be done manually for the best results. Using bots for following accounts or leaving comments is actually against the terms of service (TOS) of every single social media platform and can damage your account or even get it permanently shut down.

6. Should I Buy Followers?

Never, under any circumstances, “buy” followers. Buying followers inflates your account with people who are never going to buy from you. Often they are “shell accounts” meaning no human person even runs them. Buying followers is strictly prohibited on all social media platforms and can actually negatively impact your engagement rates. New social media users spend way too much time worrying about the number of followers they have. A much more important metric is how much engagement you are getting. I’d rather have 4,000 followers with a 35% engagement rate than 100,000 followers with a less than 1% engagement rate. The point of social media marketing to set sales or leads, not to see who can get the most followers the fastest.

7. What, When And How Often Should I Post?

What – Post photos, infographics, blog posts, articles, lead magnets, offers, giveaway, news stories, repost related content from other sources and make videos.

When – The optimal days and times to post content will depend on your audience and the social media platform. A general rule of thumb though is mornings and lunch hours on weekdays are the best times to post. Engagement falls on the weekend since most people surf social media to avoid work. There are some target markets that are online at night or on the weekends though, so it would be best to experiment and split test to find the perfect times for you.

How Often – How often you post or share content depends on the social platform as well. Here are some general guidelines:

Facebook – 3-5 times per week

IG – 1 to 2 times per day

Pinterest – 30 -40 pins per day (80% shared content, 30% sales content)

Twitter – 3-5 times per day

Snapchat – Several times per day

LinkedIn – 2-3 times per week

Bonus: What Type Of ROI Can I expect From Social Media Marketing?

Trying to figure out your return on investment (ROI) on social media can be frustrating. Many businesses have no idea what their ROI is for social media or how to track it. Each social platform gives you limited access to some key analytics. You can sign up for third party paid tools to help fill in the mission information. Your ROI is typically the revenue your campaigns generate, minus the cost of advertising and creation. Social Media, however, also provides invaluable brand awareness, viral marketing and customer loyalty that it’s difficult to calculate.

Remember back in the 1990’s and early 2000’s when businesses were told they simply had to have a website in order to be seen as a serious business? Well, now the same can be said for social media. Any and all businesses need to hop on at least one social network double quick. Discover your niche, find your audience, make great content and interact with consumers. It’s that simple!

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