Consumer behaviours and preferences are constantly evolving, and SMBs must revisit their strategies more regularly than ever before to keep up. Thankfully, as shopping continues the great migration online, there are a plethora of platforms connecting businesses with their customers and facilitating trade.
Social media has become increasingly important for growing small businesses online, with more and more customers looking to platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and TikTok to discover new businesses, find inspiration and make purchasing decisions. In fact, a quarter of Australians (24%) say they now make purchases through social media (PayPal eCommerce Index 2020).
There has never been a better time for SMBs to develop or reassess social media strategy. This can be a daunting task, with many businesses owners unsure about where to start and how to grow their audience. We have rounded up a few of the most vexing questions from those attending the recent Social Media Strategy for Small Business Bootcamp hosted by PayPal, along with answers and insights from 3 respected e-commerce experts.
Why should my business use social media?
In the past few years social media has become more than a platform for personal use, establishing itself as an essential element of any business’ marketing mix. One reason for this is accessibility, “It’s such a powerful tool that anyone can access”, explained Sara Crampton, Director and Buyer at The UNDONE. We are also seeing more and more customers turn to social media for inspiration and suggestions on how they shop and spend their money. PayPal’s Director of Customer Success, Alison O’Brien, backs this up saying, “Despite social commerce adoption remaining relatively steady year on year, the average monthly spend via social across all Australian consumers increased 5 fold from 2019 to 2020” (PayPal ecommerce Index). Recognising the significant role social media can play in the growth of your business is important to ensure you are reaping all the benefits it has to offer.
What benefits can social media offer my business?
Incorporating social media in your promotion strategy can help achieve many of your business goals. “It’s a huge opportunity to maximise consumer reach, increase brand appeal, and to drive consumer loyalty”, explains Alison. This has been demonstrated consistently among SMBs that have embraced social media. Sara speaks of her experience at The UNDONE saying, “We see such a great conversion when we post. There’s a direct correlation from how often we’re posting to how many sales we’re receiving.” While some may suspect this is too good to be true, it helps to understand how social media users arrive at purchasing decisions. Alison explains, “We know the audience will follow brands on social because they want to engage with authentic, educational and new content”. Simply put, if relevant and authentic social content resonates with and engages an audience, it can create opportunities to consider purchases. Come for the content, stay for the product.
How can I create a successful content strategy?
We’ve established the significant role content plays in the success of your social media strategy, now here are some expert tips on how to consider the best content mix for your brand. Grace Brennan, Founder of Buy From The Bush tells small business owners it’s about, “Focus and knowing really clearly why you’re using the platform you’re using and who your audience is, and within that, that will inform all the decision-making around content and I think it comes much easier if you have a really clear idea of purpose.” She refers to the success of her own strategy where she focused on telling a clear and consistent story, “We asked, how can we tell our story? How can we get people sharing? And we were very specific about what we wanted from our audience”.
Grace Brennan also advises SMBs to know their audience well to serve them the most impactful content, “You’ve got to think a little bit about where your customer hangs out and how to get them to respond to the content”. She adds, “Understanding who your purchaser is and choosing a platform accordingly is also really important.”
How can I connect with my audience?
Social media has allowed customers to directly engage and connect with businesses, an opportunity that has rarely been possible prior to rise of these platforms. It’s important for business owners to seize this opportunity and establish a trusted and reliable one-to-one relationship with their audience and customers. “They’re not just buying a top, they’re buying a story and they’re buying into the mission that you are creating”, Sara explains, “That’s what people want, they want to understand who the founder is, the why, and have a really strong connection to the purpose and be a part of that community you’re building.” Just as you cater your product offering to your customers’ needs, giving your audience what they want on social media is just as imperative for your business success. Alison advises, “Don’t underestimate the power of human connection in driving brand loyalty, it’s a fundamental step.”
To understand what your audience wants, you simply listen to them. Like any relationship, opening a dialogue ensures all parties are being heard and having their concerns addressed. Sara recommends to, “Try a Q&A on Instagram, they are fantastic for engagement, and you get to talk and communicate and build rapport with your customers as well and get feedback from your customers.” This is a practical and highly accessible tool that can make a big impact on the connection with your audience. PayPal’s Alison tells us, “60% of gen Z want brands to value their opinions, not just their dollars and they want the ability to make collaborative decisions.” This a significant shift in the customer journey that should be considered when evolving your business strategy.
How do I translate all this into driving sales?
A business owner’s bottom line will always be top of mind – and rightfully so. How do you then use your successful social media strategy to convert more sales? In short, targeting. It is a crucial component in converting sales, whether it is targeting the right customer or the platform or even your posting schedule. Grace Brennan explains, “Your audience are warm leads. If you think of them as warm leads, you just need to convert them to a sale”, she continues, “you need to make sure that you are targeting the right demographic, the right customer that you’re trying to communicate to.” Sara also supports this, saying, “You can have a lot of followers, you can have a lot of engagement, you can have a viral post but, in the end, if that’s not hitting the right customer, you could have zero sales”.
How do you find the right customer? Sara draws on her own experience at The UNDONE, saying, “Feeding your social media into your bigger marketing strategy is really important, we love to send our eDM’s and newsletters and tell our customers we do have a great social media channel for them to follow”, she continues, “all those little touch points will then help them on their decision-making process and hopefully convert to a sale.” Grace also advises SMBs to consider their posting schedule, she says, “Time of week, time of day, your messaging, the image, the seasonality, there’s so many factors in terms of whether people actually part with their money.”
However, there is no set rulebook to converting sales as each business and its customer base is so unique. Alison advises all business owners to “Set relevant and realistic social media marketing goals that complement your overarching business goals”, emphasising, “to consistently review and optimise your social communication strategy is really important, particularly in line with consumer behaviour changes”.
Overall social media’s accessibility and low barriers to entry have revolutionised the way small businesses are able to target, acquire and connect with their customers, diversify their marketing mix and convert sales online.
Want to learn more about how you can navigate social media for your business? Watch the full Social Media Strategy for Small Business Bootcamp webinar presented by PayPal here.
The article provided is for general informational purposes only. You should always obtain independent business, tax, financial and legal advice before making any business decisions.
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