Things have changed drastically since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. Other than having to remember to pack your mask as you leave the house, you’ve probably noticed big shifts in the business world too.
Companies have had to significantly change the way they do things to survive. Many small businesses have struggled so much that they’ve ended up closing their doors completely. Collectively, we’ve learned just how valuable it is to be adaptable in the face of change.
The pandemic has forced us to pivot and experiment, especially in business:
If you typically work in the entertainment industry, you might have fallen back on your freelance graphic design career until things pick up again. If you’re a real estate agent, you’ve likely had to halt your open houses and figure out how to keep your client base engaged online. If you’re a restaurant owner, switching to take-out service or offering make-at-home menu items might have been your move.
Whether your goal has been to survive, evolve, or recover, it’s clear that you need to make the most of affordable ways of doing business, and be open to creative ways of marketing it.
Cue social media marketing, one of the most cost-effective marketing methods just about any business can benefit from. Let’s revisit why social media marketing is such a popular business marketing medium.
Why should small businesses invest in social media?
Here are a few of the reasons savvy small business owners invest in social media marketing:
1. Building brand awareness
In 2020, an estimated 3.6 billion people were using social media worldwide (Statista). With that number of people practically living on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Linkedin, opportunities are ripe for sharing your brand with current and future customers.
Traditionally, you might have had to purchase billboards or magazine ads that cost a fortune to get your name out there, but with social media, you can get your message across for a fraction of the cost.
If you’re that restaurant owner switching to make-at-home menu items, chances are your audience isn’t browsing the web looking for that, but they’re very likely scrolling through platforms like Instagram. You can capture the attention of these users and make them aware of your new offerings by making photo or video posts about them (see an Earls example here), or by setting up extremely targeted digital ads. You can set up these ads to target users by age group, interests, and other pages they follow so that your ad has a good chance of being clicked.
Instagram in particular performs extremely well for consumer goods. A Facebook IQ study found that 54% of people surveyed made a purchase either in the moment or after seeing a product or service on Instagram.
Spend just a few ad dollars on social media ads like these, and if you do it right, you’ll see awareness of your offerings rise, people coming through your door, or people taking actions on your website.
2. Fostering engagement and building leads
Social media networks like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Linkedin can serve as powerful tools for engaging with your followers and building leads. They can help you continue to bring in business even during slow sales periods.
If you’re a real estate agent whose business has suffered due to the pandemic, you can jump on social media to help your business stay afloat. Even if open houses aren’t happening, you can still share your listings online by posting videos, photos, and descriptions. Likes on your posts can signify interest in the properties. You can then take the next step and use messaging tools within these platforms to connect with the people who liked your post. Once the property is available for showings again, you can easily loop back in with those connections having built this relationship and be one step closer to making a sale.
Social media networks also give you a place to creatively engage with your audience. They might not be buying every day, but you can still provide them with value every day.
In this real estate example, you could use your pages to update your clients on market conditions, help educate them on the buying process, or warn them what to look out for before settling on a property. For more practical ideas on how real estate agents can engage their audience during the pandemic, watch this video.
Social media networks are built to facilitate the discovery of new opportunities. They can serve as powerful professional networking tools whether you’re a CEO, small business owner, freelancer, realtor, or even new graduate. If you’re in the same boat as that freelance graphic designer we mentioned earlier, you’re now in a position where you need to grind to build new relationships that can result in work for your business.
Linkedin is a popular platform intended for professional networking. Not only does it host a job board of job listings from all over the world, but it gives you the chance to find and connect with decision-makers within the companies you’re targeting. 61 million LinkedIn users are senior-level influencers and 40 million are in decision-making positions (Linkedin).
When you take the time to build your own Linkedin profile, browse for opportunities, and send out pitches, you’re far more likely to make promising connections you might not have made in the offline world.
Linkedin has seen a surge of activity during the pandemic with more people working from home. Now is prime-time to get going on the platform and get the most out of your access to the people in this network.
So, social media marketing is definitely a lucrative business tool if you know how to use it well.
How can you learn social media marketing for business?
Whether you’re an entrepreneur who’s ready to launch a new business online, an employee who’s been tasked with the responsibility of managing your company’s social media, or an ex-tradesman who recently switched careers, how do you know where to begin learning how to do social media marketing? Not to worry, there are plenty of ways to get past that bottleneck in no time.
1. Collaborate with a marketing agency
One way to learn the ropes of social media marketing is to partner up with a marketing agency that can share its expertise. Calling in the experts doesn’t necessarily mean you need to be completely hands-off. There is plenty of opportunity to learn how it’s done when you collaborate on a short-term engagement.
Working with an agency can be a great move to ensure your social media strategy and first social campaign are set up right. You can then take what you’ve learned by watching the pros in the process to maintain your social media efforts in-house.
The downside of collaborating with an agency is that you should expect to be paying at least $500/month for their work. Depending on the agency, its capabilities, and service offerings, you could end up paying most agencies’ minimum for a small business social media marketing campaign, and that can range between $2500-5000. This added expense is why many small business owners decide to treat social media marketing as a DIY business function that’s performed in-house.
2. Pursue further education through university courses
Because social media marketing has caught on so much in the business world, universities are now including the subject in their course curriculums. Schools like Duke University or the University of Toronto offer social media marketing courses as part of their programs, and many other institutions offer in-person and online options.
One thing to consider before applying to these programs is the time investment while you juggle class against your work schedule, not to mention the financial expense. And you’ll often have no control over course start and end dates.
If you’re looking for a more flexible learning option you can access on-demand, university courses might not be the best option for you.
3. Take a social media training course online
Luckily there’s no shortage of online social media marketing “how to” courses. Brainstation and Digital Marketing Institute are some of our favourite finds and a quick Google search will lead you to plenty more paid and free options.
We designed our National Digital Academy course, “Introduction to Social Media for Business Growth”, specifically for entrepreneurs, business owners, employees, and contractors looking to strengthen their basic social media skills to get their businesses growing online.
It’s perfect if you’re brand-new to the social media game, or if you have intermediate skills already and are looking to brush up on your knowledge to get with the trends. Affordable and easy-to-digest, even those with small budgets and very little free time can participate.
Ready to start learning? Sign up for the “Intro to Social Media Growth for Business” course here.