Developing a social media strategy for a small business can be challenging, especially if you have limited time, resources and people to make it work. When you consider the number of social media platforms, choosing the best one can be stressful - but it doesn't have to be.
When businesses first started realizing there could be marketing opportunities using "social" media, the strategy was was just to figure out how to create a profile on all platforms and start promoting.
However, that was before:
Nonetheless, it can be overwhelming to figure out where to start, but let's simplify the process by starting with deciding which platform is best for you.
Learn About Your Audience's Preferences
A few years ago, I was working through an online Social Media Marketing Certification program from Northwestern University. The lead instructor, Randy Hlavac, shared a story about a question he got at a conference.
A new social media platform had just launched, and a couple of attendees asked him if they should put their business on it.
He asked them if their target audience would be on that platform.
They said no.
They answered their question.
You can find plenty of reports on which demographics are on what platform, including this 2022 Social Media Demographics report from Hubspot.
Create Opportunity in Your Space
Many small businesses would have an immediate advantage when they launch their social media pages - if they chose to utilize it. It's incredibly likely others in your space view social media platforms as advertising billboards while putting all of the rest of their attention on SEO ranking and automation.
As Mark Schaefer points out in Marketing Rebellion, most marketers aren't evolving as the marketing world changes.
"They think they are because they’re attending conferences about artificial intelligence, blockchain, marketing automation, content curation systems, social media war rooms, virtual reality, voice search, and other technologies changing the business landscape."
Couple that with his insight on old SEO optimization vs. new competitive advantage opportunities, and suddenly - a social media strategy becomes less stressful.
Once you find out where your audience consumes content, find ways to create engagement, relationships and community. If you can do that, your audience will ignore the automated sales pitches of your competition and trust you with their needs and challenges.
Ideally, they'll turn from customers to advocates who talk about your brand on social media. When that happens, they're doing some of the marketing for you.
If I can help you develop a social media strategy for your small business, let's schedule a time to talk about your business and specific challenges (free of charge).
Just reach out, and we'll schedule a time that works best for you.
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In the movie There's Something About Mary, Ted (played by Ben Stiller) picks up a hitchhiker (Harland Williams) who pitches his brilliant new business idea: 7-Minute Abs.
He says, "Think about it. You walk into a video store, you see 8-Minute Abs sittin' there, there's 7-Minute Abs right beside it. Which one are you gonna pick, man?"
If that wasn't enough, he had a plan if people still liked 8-minue abs:
"If you're not happy with the first 7 minutes, we're gonna send you the extra minute free. You see? That's it. That's our motto. That's where we're comin' from. That's from A to B."
Whether you've seen the movie or not, you're likely smiling or laughing because the idea is pretty silly. For one thing, you have to ask yourself - How much of a difference will one minute make?
That's a reasonable question.
While it's a silly idea, many businesses are wasting a lot of time applying that thinking to their content strategy. They look at what their competition is doing and try to beat them with a better spin, message or concept.
That approach is likely worse than the hitchhiker's video store comparison strategy. Instead of focusing on a better way to get better abs, it's healthier to cover the areas of the body they're not talking about and provide your "better abs" methodologies in different ways.
In other words, don't build your content strategy with ideas focused on what you're competition is doing, instead focus on what they're NOT doing.
Expose Weakness in the Competition
Since you're likely not looking to stand out in the video store space, let's think in terms of contemporary content. Maybe they're spamming their 7-minute abs content on Twitter with repetitive graphics and CTAs.
The last thing you want to do on your Twitter feed is promote your similar offering in a similar way, with the thought that it just "sounds" better.
These days, if a competitor is top dog in an industry, they are likely to be complacent in their content and/or social media strategies. They probably have a lot of it automated because they're Number One and feel they can just keep cruising without any effort.
Two critical things to remember:
1. The landscape is consumer-controlled, and the key thought leaders and experts are telling businesses to focus on relationship marketing.
2. As Mark Schaefer points out in his book Marketing Rebellion, despite research as far back as 2009 pointing to the consumer disruption in traditional marketing, many brands still haven't made enough effort to evolve their strategies.
I've also heard Mark encourage people to differentiate themselves through what their competition is failing to do (as opposed to copying them). He said, "If you're Number 2 in your industry, you shouldn't be doing what Number 1 is doing."
If you're both creating similar content and distributing it in a similar way, how does that help? Instead, think of ways to take advantage of weaknesses in your competitions approach. Examples include:
If your competition doesn't engage in conversations with audience on social media - you should do it
If your competition doesn't repurpose content to reach more people - you should do it
If your competition doesn't produce videos or podcasts - you should do it
Suddenly, you'll find yourself gaining new followers, customers, prospects and advocates in a way that might get your competition's attention. However, by the time they respond, it will be too late to connect with those people.
Show More Courage Than the Competition
Marcus Sheridan (The Sales Lion) provides invaluable insights into taking advantage of a competition's weaknesses. You may wonder what he means by talking about what others don't discuss in your space.
Well, one example is writing a blog about what your product or services cost.
You may think - We can do that! We have to control that narrative. We have to wait until they contact us to discuss price because then we can provide assurances while making our pitch. That's dangerous. It could scare people off.
Yet, there's the opportunity:
Marcus says no - if you can explain WHY it costs a little more.
Talk to your audience. Answer questions. Be transparent. Build trust.
Get Results Faster Than the Competition
If you're in crowded space, it can be tough to compete in the realm of SEO. However, your 7-minute abs strategy could be focusing more time filling gaps in the content, communication and messaging in your space.
In the time it takes to write tons of content in an attempt to move up a rank, you could be having conversations on social, understanding customer challenges, providing answers and building trust in a way that generates a faster (and perhaps greater) impact.
Your can demonstrate a lot more value to your audience by turning your focus away from doing what they do (only better), and filling the gaps in your space where they can find you, talk to you and trust you. That's how you flex your muscle.
If I can help you develop content ideas or strategies to help take advantage of your competition's weaknesses, contact me today.
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