A key element in the route from recovery to growth
Economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic could very well continue to play out over decades. Change is a forerunner to growth, and businesses across the nation were forced to pivot over the past two years. Perseverance was tested, resilience was built and the presence of small businesses on social media, or lack thereof, was noticed.
Small businesses, which account for 99% of businesses and employ 47% of workers in the U.S., were hit hardest by the pandemic. Many closed their doors, let employees go and canceled shipments upon shipments. On the other hand, many small businesses rose to the top thanks to a strong presence, honest vulnerability and calculated strategy on social media.
As small business owners navigate change and recovery in the wake of the pandemic, social media will continue to be a key element in accelerating future growth. There are several ways social media can revitalize small business competition and positively influence bottom lines.
Maximize micro-influencers. Micro-influencers are defined as creators with 10,000–75,000 followers. The reason it’s a good idea for small businesses to partner with this tier of influencer comes down to a few factors: engagement rate, collaborative partnerships and click-thru capabilities. Micro-influencers tend to be a perfect fit for brands of every kind and size because they have enough experience to create high-quality, professional content, yet they’re still in a stage of growth that allows for maintaining a highly engaged community.
Talk the Tok. This might seem like a no-brainer, but if a business doesn’t have a TikTok profile, it’s time to pull the trigger in 2022. This platform has proven to be an absolute monster when it comes to connecting with untapped audiences. By incorporating TikTok into a marketing strategy, small business owners can solidify brand recognition and messaging, highlight product and service offerings, and connect with a growing and influential audience that has the potential to become loyal and lifelong customers.
Use social data for more than marketing. Many businesses pull social data to observe the latest or emerging trends to edge out competitors, but small business owners should shift the focus to their audience’s interests and needs, create content around popular products that are flying off the shelves, and discover which platforms customers prefer by identifying where audiences are most active. Customer surveys will help small business owners figure out who their customers really are, who they follow and what they really like.
Use buzzwords. One thing seen during the pandemic was an overwhelming amount of support for small businesses. People wanted to support local and shop small and they still do. Businesses should not be afraid to use words like “help” and “support” in posts. By being vulnerable and honest, there’s a huge opportunity to reach consumers who want to shop small. There may be opportunity to try networking with other small business owners and plug each other’s causes, highlight inspirations and note the struggles that both businesses have overcome.
Ride the social commerce wave. This just means buying and selling goods or services directly within a social media platform. This model enables customers to complete the full buyer journey from discovery to purchase without leaving their preferred apps. Small businesses can do this by turning their social profiles into a shoppable catalog and create a seamless customer experience.
Rack up reviews. Consumers trust customer reviews over business mission statements. Small business owners should be wise and add user generated content (UGC) to their marketing game plan. Organic content boosts opportunities to build trust with consumers, so it’s important to post curated content that will resonate with the brand.
Edge out small business competition through social customer service. Consumers believe that the best in brands offer strong customer service. So, engaging the audience is important, but businesses that go above and beyond to prioritize customer service will gain a competitive advantage. Small businesses should track feedback, address all important inbound messages in a timely manner, keep track of common complaints and questions, be transparent and forthcoming with their customers about shipping issues, and request customers leave reviews.
It can be difficult for a small business owner to know which social media platforms and trends to pay attention to and which ones to ignore. Sometimes, the best practices include trial and error. Small business owners should test trends, track their success and pivot when necessary.
Candie Guay is the co-founder and creative director of Scottsdale-based Envida, the nation’s leading multifamily creative agency. Her insight has been featured on Page 6, The Huffington Post, CBS and ABC News. Most recently, Arizona State University named Guay No. 7 on its Most Innovative Alumni list. In 2020, Envida was honored to be included in Inc. Magazine’s 5000 List for Top Places to Work.