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Running and maintaining a small business is a difficult task. More often than not, there aren’t enough helping hands to specialize in one area, and employees are asked to flow into different roles. Small businesses are also responsible for over 50% of the jobs in the United States. Small businesses are coming out of a rut with the covid measures that locked them down, and there are some interesting trends that small businesses should be aware of. Marketing is no easy task for a small business, but with these trends and ideas, small businesses should see their digital marketing improve.

Social Media is a Must

During the pandemic, social media use jumped to levels not seen before. It makes sense considering a large portion of the population was either out of work and waiting for the conditions to improve or working from home without the lurking eye of bosses and other employees. Studies suggest that the average person spends 2.5 hours on social media a day. That number increases to over 4 hours for 12% of the population.

This means that to reach customers, brands and businesses will have to employ a strategic and effective social media strategy. With most of the population using social media, it’s important brands get themselves in front of users and show customers who they are. 

Some effective tips for a social media presence are:

  • Share content to followers, try not to share too often but rather prioritize content over quantity.
  • Partner with influences that parallel your brand and brand voice. For example, if you’re a fitness brand, partnering with a micro-influencer in your area would be a good idea. Partnering with a fast-food influencer might not be the best idea.
  • Use hashtags. Hashtags allow your posts to get in front of more people. When a social media user searches for a hashtag your post will be among the posts shown. Try not to be too generic. If you’re using a keyword that is used too often, your post will be lost among the other posts. If you’re using a keyword that is never searched, no one will find your post. Try coming up with hashtags that are relevant but not too open-ended.
  • Try using advertising on social media platforms. Both Facebook and Instagram have quality ad programs that can help get brands in front of users.

Social Commerce is here to stay

Last year, nearly two-thirds of social media users said that they purchased something off of the social media platform itself. Social Commerce is the ability to buy directly from a social media app. Instagram is one of the most popular social commerce examples. Users are able to buy directly from posts and checkout on the Instagram app.

Thanks to ads, social commerce allows small businesses to reach even more potential customers. Small businesses are able to create consumer profiles and target specific groups of people on social media easier than through traditional advertising.

There is also a real advantage to remarketing through social media ads. A customer may see something that they had previously put in their cart but decided against buying. With remarketing ads consumers are reminded of the near purchase and occasionally pushed over the fence.

Video is King

The number of American users on YouTube has grown significantly in the past 3 years. In fact, with the ability to upload videos on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and other social media outlets, the amount of videos that consumers view has nearly doubled since 2018. With these numbers, it makes sense that video ads have increased at the same time.

Consumers have shown that they don’t mind long content that includes blogs and videos. Small businesses should take advantage of videos in ads as well as social media posts and informative how-to guides. 

When small businesses post a short video on their social media, they are given a unique opportunity to show consumers their brand voice and a small insight into who they are. When a business posts how-to guides, they increase loyalty and knowledge of their customer base. This allows them to look trustworthy. It also allows small businesses to show post-purchase moments from customers or what it will look like post-purchase.

Local

It’s important for small businesses to optimize their google business profile which was formerly known as Google my business. This allows businesses to have an organic local presence. Google business currently has location as the number one factor when deciding to show what local businesses to show when someone searches.

Some tips for optimizing your Google Business Profile are:

  • Finish your Google Business Profile completely. It’s easy to start and stop finishing up profiles. However, this is a profile that is vitally important to your business and should be finished when setting up. This allows your business to be viable and shown without a portion of information missing.
  • Verify location and hours. This includes holidays. The last thing a business wants is to miss out on a potential customer or sale because the location or hours are wrong. When working with locals it’s important to be accurate. Most small businesses will be given a single chance, and if they blow it on something silly like hours or location, consumers will remember that next time they’re looking for the same product or a similar one.
  • Follow up with customers who leave reviews. It’s easy to want to follow up with the bad reviews, but it’s equally as important to follow up on the good ones as well. Following up will help to instill brand loyalty and trust.
  • Respond to questions left in the reviews. More likely, if one customer has a question another one does as well. If you’re able to answer in the review itself it makes it easier for customers to see your answer. It saves them from wondering if that question is answered in the FAQ or not. This also helps to show customers that you are active and have quality customer service.
  • Try adding new photos regularly. Depending on what industry a small business is in, photos are very important. If it’s a restaurant or even a car garage, customers want to feel like they are getting top-shelf products. Having clear up to date images helps customers feel as if they are. 

Connection Matters

Over the past few years, a trend of authenticity and realism has become important to consumers. This means that the more honest and real a business is, the more customers can connect with them. The past few years have been rough for everyone, including businesses, it’s okay to be real and lean into that with customers. 

Businesses should try hosting contests and sweepstakes that focus on the human element of the business. This could mean surprising a customer or a few with brand swag or partnering with local nonprofits to do good in the community. Businesses could also try to bring customer voices into the spotlight with blogs and social media posts.

Paid Placement Over Traditional Media Outlets

Over a seven-year period from 2012 to 2019, paid placement advertising increased from 4.75 billion to 11.44 billion. This trend is expected to increase over the next few years as well. With customers showing that authenticity matters, it’s more important to get ads in front of a targeted audience that has connected or could connect easily rather than traditional advertising.

The main cause of this trend is the difficult nature of getting earned media, or media that isn’t bought or owned by the brand. An example of earned media is a customer posting to their own social media the product without the business asking them to. This type of media is extremely valuable and leads to more trust from new audiences.

Earned media acts as a form of referral, imagine a best friend seeing their best friend publicly endorse a product, that carries a certain weight. With how immersive and video-centric paid placement advertising has become, it is difficult to distinguish it from earned media. It will be interesting to see if this backfires for brands in the long run because they are balancing looking authentic and being credible with the most valuable form of media.

Multimedia Will Have a Better ROI Than Conventional Press Release

With the idea that it’s increasingly more difficult to get earned media nowadays, the power and effectiveness of press releases are waning. Brands are starting to bring press releases in-house and are producing quality videos for newsworthy announcements rather than text-based releases. 

This idea meshes with the idea that video is increasing, and consumers are more willing to watch a video than they were years before. Not to mention brands are able to incorporate additional features in video releases. They can link additional documents or videos or even make the videos interactive with consumers. Maybe they add a feature to subscribe for a clothing drop or product drop. 

More and more brands are starting to think of press releases as a thing of the past. At the very least, companies are moving away from traditional text-based press releases because video and interactive have proven to be far more effective.