By Celia Varet, Director, Digital Impact and Sustainability – BT Business
As small businesses continue to recover from the effects of COVID-19, SMEs across the UK continue to seek innovative ways to cut costs and combat ongoing challenges. One approach is through new marketing strategies; recent research by BT Business reveals that 76% of business owners have adopted social media platforms or an online presence to drive sales. Online websites and Facebook are the largest contributors to an SME’s sales pipeline, followed by Instagram.
There is certainly an argument to be made for business owners becoming their own content creators, in a bid to stay competitive in this current climate. With 49% of people acknowledging that their attention span feels shorter than it used to be, SMEs need to be savvy to articulate their messages in a short space of time. It is critical to deliver content that makes it impossible for customers to forget who you are and what your business stands for. What’s more, this approach to marketing doesn’t have to break the bank – curating social media channels is a free and effective way to interact with your target audience.
To ensure your social media pages stand out from the crowd, commit time to doing the creative legwork. Forward planning and listing out various topics and ideas your company can post about will prevent you from running out of ideas for new content. Many business owners admit feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of managing their marketing online; highlighting the importance of digital skills for SMEs to help kickstart marketing endeavors. BT’s research uncovered that handling social media accounts can be a source of concern for many; a fifth surveyed feel “behind the times”, 16% feel “stressed”, and others are feeling “anxious” and “confused”.
Yet this doesn’t have to be the case. When it comes to the creative planning process, it’s worth calling on the wealth of knowledge in your immediate network, whether it be family, friends or employees, who can join a brainstorm session to give further support on how to navigate social media and to come up with new ideas. With such creative sessions, being daring will often reap the best rewards. Posting bold content will help set your SME apart in tight industries full of competition.
In times of ever-growing competition, business owners ought to do more than simply churn out incessant posts on social media in a bid to keep their profiles up to date. As Tiktok and Instagram have encroached on Google’s search engine dominance, users are taking to social media to find solutions to their problems. For viewers to watch or read the content all the way through, it must have a strong angle; otherwise, people will switch off.
Dan Knowlton, Co-founder & CMO of Knowlton Marketing is well versed in creating engaging marketing strategies to captivate a viewer’s attention. Dan suggests SMEs should cater their content in the following ways: having a hook, addressing a problem, providing an answer to an issue, and calling for action. Dan shares further insights in this video, which offers fruitful ideas on how to curate thumb-stopping content while remaining authentic to your brand values, in order to grow an authentic following.
Yet, it’s worth remembering that creating engaging content is only valuable if viewers can take tangible action afterwards. Without a incorporating a call to action, or an accompanying link, your audience is likely to continue scrolling without pause for thought. Simple steps such as providing relevant links and access to websites, or other social media platforms, can elevate your SME when it comes to social media marketing. Business owners should encourage their audience to take part in the conversation and engage with their content, which will in turn, help build a strong community.
Cater to Your Audience
Knowing your customer base is integral to being a business owner, and when it comes to social content, that’s no different. Commissioning research or surveying customers will help build an understanding of your audience, by identifying what engages them on every level, as well as what platforms they use. This doesn’t have to be expensive; you can canvass customer opinion simply by hosting a poll on the social media platform that receives the most engagement.
The study by BT Business also highlighted the challenges that business owners seek to overcome when using new technology, with 76% expressing a desire to improve their digital skills. Out of this group, 24% want to focus on targeting the right audience online, and 21% want to strengthen their brand online.
It’s also worth noting that your business doesn’t have to be present on every platform, but rather, select those which are most appropriate for your brand to dedicate your time and energy towards. This decision should be made on where you’re most likely to reach your customers, based on the type of content they consume.
Regularly casting a critical eye over your social media accounts will help you to evolve and deliver the best results. Follow brands that inspire you and take note of successful social media campaigns. It’s also important to assess when something hasn’t quite gone to plan and take note of learnings for next time.
There are plenty of resources online which can help you to improve your social media strategy, so make the most out of what’s already in the public sphere. BT Business is committed to helping SMEs thrive, and works with business experts across the UK as part of the ‘Let’s Talk About…’ series, sharing practical digital skills advice. The Skills For Tomorrow site at BT Business also offers an insight into the support available to you, as you help your business go from strength to strength.