Social media made simple - What success looks like

Having a social media presence is paramount to small business success – but how do you know if you’re doing it right?

Why you need it

In a highly competitive consumer landscape, the effectiveness of a social media campaign has the ability to make or break a business. According to research undertaken by digital marketing firm Netstripes, only 16 per cent of Australian small businesses are fully digitally engaged – and these small businesses are missing out on an earning potential of up to $350,000 per annum. So where does this leave the other 84 per cent?

Social media can be used to build brand recognition, target and learn about customers, and interact with customers as well, however, the most significant point is its cost effectiveness. Compared with other marketing mediums, an active social media presence has the least impact on marketing budgets. However, time poor small business owners fall into the trap of embracing social media with no real understanding of exactly what they should be doing – or what success would look like.

The sites that actually work

Facebook is the most visited website of all time. This emphasises the need for businesses to get social – but do it properly. Unfortunately – they’re not. Research from Sensis shows that twice as many consumers are engaged with social media compared with businesses and, of those businesses, eighty per cent do not have a strategic plan for their social media.

Many small businesses, covering a broad range of industries like retail, hospitality and, even law, have used social to great success.

Who’s doing it right?

Australian businesswoman Chelsea Bagan started her beauty empire on Instagram. Some years later, her nail polish business, Kester Black, still does most of its advertising and trade through the platform.

Similarly, Melbourne start-up Law Answers is breaking the mould in the legal world. The online business connects consumers with experienced legal advisors through a ‘live chat’ function. It also hosts a number of legal precedents and contracts online that visitors are able to download, once they have received advice regarding their specific needs.

Likewise, luxury ice cream brand Messina has built its following through social media. The ‘fear of missing out’ (FOMO) campaign, featuring mouth-watering photos of limited edition ice cream flavours, has created a food craze resulting in over 100,000 Instagram followers and a business expansion from Sydney to Melbourne.

Where to start?

We know it can work – but where do small businesses start? Aside from an active social media presence, there are a few fundamental elements that are crucial to measuring the success of your digital engagement:

Goals: It may seem like an obvious thing to say – but you won’t know how successful your campaign is if you didn’t set goals for what you want to achieve. Whether it’s to increase traffic back to a website, have more customers interact with your posts, or simply have more followers, set goals from the outset.

Sales: This is mainly relevant to retail businesses - one of the biggest reasons you spend so much time on social media is to encourage customers to buy more. Monitor your sales figures before, during and after the campaign runs and see if sales go up. If they do – something is working.

Interaction: Nothing defines a good social media campaign more than the level of interaction you get. These levels will be different from business to business, but customers will comment, like and share your posts more if you’re getting it right. If customers are interacting with your business in a positive way – then there’s a higher chance they’ll be advocates for your brand.

Return on investment: Use tracking tools and analytics to judge if the effort, time, and cost are truly worth it. Think about the time it took to execute the campaign and how much was spent on making it happen – then work out if it’s beneficial. Don’t just measure ROI by converted sales, think about other, less quantifiable, outcomes like leads that may turn in to sales or brand awareness.

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