Even for veteran small business owners who are accustomed to multi-tasking and problem-solving, the entrepreneurial quagmire is still a reality. Entrepreneurs don't want to stop creating products and enhancing their services in order to spend time marketing. Running a business is a juggling act that requires developing the product or service, attending to administrative demands, and managing professional relationships. So where does that leave time to trumpet the company value propositions with a social media marketing strategy?
In order for a business to stay vibrant in today's economy, it’s necessary to establish your brand, create brand awareness and get the word out. Even if your business is brick and mortar, it’s even more important to stay relevant and promote your business online.
The idea of utilizing social media to promote your business might seem tedious but think of it this way: online presence isn't just shameless promotion if approached correctly, it's an opportunity to connect with your customers, other servicemembers, veterans and veteran business owners and to start smart and helpful conversations. Here's a basic social media strategy that will boost your company visibility without investing a ton of time or money.
1. Pick a Social Media Platform and Contribute Regularly
Ideally, you set up a website, but if your business is in its infancy, a Facebook page, Instagram or a Twitter account will suffice. It really depends on where your audience is. Are they mostly engaging on Facebook? Then create a Facebook page. Or are they posting pictures regularly on Instagram? Then, post and engage with them through photos and stories on Instagram.
Check out the free ebook, “5 Small Business Trends for Vet-owned Businesses,” for more details about integrating social media into your business plan and how to use social media marketing to target the newest Generation – Generation Z. Depending on your voice and tone of your brand, the basic idea is to create a steady rhythm of sharing and generating helpful or educational information about things that are relevant to your audience including information about your product or service. Keep your messages and posts positive, apolitical and impactful.
2. Get Visual with Videos and Explore Live Videos
Videos get a ton of attention on Facebook, and YouTube is the number one search engine in the world for a reason. Videos and images grab attention and they are very easy to create more engagement. It's a great idea to post about other veteran small businesses, inspiring quotes, or anything relevant and entertaining to your viewers.
In our ebook, “5 Small Business Trends for Vet-owned Businesses,” you’ll learn even more about live videos. Research from Livestream shows that 80 percent of audiences would rather watch a live video, such as Facebook Live, than read a blog and almost the same percentage prefer live video to social media posts. Download the ebook now.
3. Build Online Comradery and Community
Team up with other vetrepreneurs and veteran-owned small businesses and start a dialog. This is an easy way to position yourself as an thought leader and surround yourself with experts. Remember that employees, customers and social figures are among the micro-influencers that activate and evangelize your brand.
Learn more about micro-influencers in our ebook “5 Small Business Trends for Vet-owned Businesses.”
4. Develop Relationships Rather than Transactions
It’s not just about tracking consumers’ behaviors on social platforms and targeting them based on interests, either. It’s about leveraging your knowledge of their habits in a way that feels helpful, rather than invasive. More social media marketing tools and apps are incorporating features to support personalization and targeting, remembering key dates, triggers and developing relationships. You can target your high-potential market by posting content that they relate to without being aggressive – it can be done!
5. Illustrate Your Contribution to Nonprofits
If your business gives to a nonprofit or supports the armed services in any way, you want to make that known. Lending a hand in your community is one of the simplest ways to foster long-term relationships with customers.
6. Establish Trust with Your Brand
No one loves going online and being bombarded with tons of annoying popups. By nature, customers are skeptical of ads – and for good reason. The alternative is something inherently more direct and persuasive: advocacy. If you show customers who you are and why you do what you do, they will believe you and naturally want to support you. Definitely avoid bait-and-switch tactics or overzealous email marketing campaigns. Hard sell tactics often backfire.
7. Automate and Schedule Social Media Posts
There are plenty of apps out there that let you "set it and forget it" with your social media posts. Hubspot, Hootsuite, Buffer or any other management app will allow you to curate your content and schedule posts. You can also see how the posts performed and optimize your content so that it gets more eyeballs. These tools are pretty intuitive and save you time.
8. Test Out Paid Promotions
After you've established your trustworthy voice and gained a healthy base of organic followers, you can experiment with boosting and paid advertisements. Consider the seasonal ebb and flow of your business and develop a budget so that you get the most bang for your buck. Most importantly, get creative so it resonates and engages with your customers. Have some fun with it!
Remember as a veteran you are setting an example for other former servicemen and women, showing them that their skills and talents apply to the business world. It is important that every single veteran understands the American Dream is within their reach, so document your experiments and accomplishments, share your works in progress and exchange ideas.
Get More Social Media Marketing Tactics in a Free ebook
To set you up for success in 2018, we created the ebook “5 Small Business Trends for Vet-owned Businesses.” You’ll get an entire section about new marketing trends including social media, how to use data-driven personalization, what are micro-influencers, live videos and why email marketing is so important. You’ll also learn more about customer experience, building business relationships, understanding small business financing and the importance of company culture. Download the ebook now.
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