Being a small business in a market dominated by huge brands can at times feel daunting. Big brands have big budgets, and teams of marketing people. But for many small brands, social media has been the marketing weapon capable of bringing down Goliath competition.
Here are five key things that all small brands and retailers who make it big on social media do:
1. Know your Customer
To save you wasting time and money marketing to people who don’t want your product, first you need to identify your target market. Identifying your target market is probably the most important step in marketing any business. People who grow their business out of a personal passion or hobby have a great advantage here.
The better you know your target customer, the easier you will be able to connect with them. Know what they like and don’t like. Know what they dream of. Find out how they speak amongst their peers, hashtags they use and look at any brands they currently interact with.
2. Don’t try to sell
Social media platforms like Facebook and social media management software like Hootsuite have great targeting tools, but we are all so used to seeing adverts and sponsored posts, reading brand’s tweets. It’s just white noise. The only way to stand out, to connect with your customer in an overcrowded environment, is to speak to them about something they are interested in.
If you are selling plant pots, talk about what should be planted at this time of year, post garden inspiration images or tips on growing an indoor kitchen garden. Offer advice and inspiration, link to useful content on your blog. Offer your customers something of value. Although it may sound counter-intuitive to focus on giving when you want to sell, the saying that people buy from people still remains true, and no one wants to buy from a pushy salesman. They want to buy from someone they have a good rapport with. Social media is a great place to build that.
3. Keep it real
Don’t be scared to speak out about trends and topics related to your brand. You will never appeal to all of the people all of the time. Don’t be scared to be controversial. Speak your truth, and that way keeping a consistent approach will be easy. As long as you stay on brand message, your target audience will only love you more. For example, a brand selling feeding covers could speak out in support of mothers nursing babies in public. The brand may attract some negative feedback from these comments, but not from their target market. Their target market (mothers) would appreciate the support and feel more positive towards the brand.
4. Keep it positive
Lots of big companies have been open with their political opinions in recent times. There will undoubtedly have been backlash for them with this, but they are big and can weather it out. For small businesses, neutrality is always best. Personal social media accounts are the place for political tweets, social commentary or criticism of people’s behavior. These things may offend a customer, and even if they don’t, they are negative and non-relevant to your customer’s experience of your store.
Being consistently positive can be difficult at times, especially when dealing with complaints via social media, but a brand should always be positive and professional. For customers, these two things are directly linked; and although passion is good, angry ranting is always bad.
5. Engage with individuals
This is where smaller, owner lead businesses have a real advantage over the big boys. Noticing people who are customers, or who have an interest in your product or industry and engaging with them in a friendly way via social media gives a brand real credibility. The smaller the business, the more nimble and responsive. If someone I regularly interact with tweets that they just bought from your online store, you could perhaps add a little handwritten note to their package, or a sample of something else even. That customer would more than likely talk about the good service and be loyal to the brand.
Being different is positive. Being different is your business’ biggest strength.
It is better for your business to be the first choice of some than the second choice of all. Identify what you are really good at, what you offer that other brands can’t, and shout about that. In an online world where it is so easy to be fake, or hide behind polished corporate spiel, going out there being unapologetically small and authentic makes your business a breath of fresh air. People connect with people. So don’t ever be afraid to let people know that there is a human team behind your business.