Building a social media following is difficult. It's a tedious and monotonous slow climb that takes investment from your business, oftentimes without providing any tangible return at first. This is a pain point that many executives at family-owned businesses all over the nation are facing, and one that the marketing team members under them are struggling with as well.
Do your executives question why your business should continue to pump resources into an effort that is yielding “no results”? Do they consider social media just “checking off a box” because it’s what your competitors are doing? Does your social media lack a strategy that supports continued investment and effort? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you aren’t leveraging social media to its highest potential. Let’s take a look at how you can reframe your marketing efforts to bring real, tangible value that drives results for your family-owned business through social media marketing.
The importance of establishing your brand on social media
Social media isn’t a fad, and it isn’t going away. In fact, it is only going to become more prevalent and necessary as brands continue to move away from traditional marketing and focus where the consumer’s attention currently is.
All generations have embraced social media, from Boomers scrolling through Facebook to Gen Z making trendy videos on Tik Tok. There were estimated to be 2.95 billion social media users worldwide in 2019 with that number projected to increase to 3.43 billion by 2023. (Source: Statista) With over half of the global population estimated to be on social media within the next three years, investing and successfully establishing your brand within the platforms will become just as important and fundamental as having a website.
As businesses continue to build their brands within the various social mediums, the space will only become more restrictive and competitive to rank within. This principle has already been proven with Facebook and Twitter algorithms as the platforms quickly transformed from new to mature. You no longer receive the same organic reach you would have received five years ago on Facebook. As more content began to pour into the platform every day, it became harder and harder to reach people without having to pay to play.
Newer platforms such as Instagram and TikTok are still able to reach organic audiences without the need to allocate ad spend because there is a heavy demand for content and not enough supply.
What does all of this mean for your family-owned business? If you don’t begin now, you may be too far behind to catch up and build an audience when the platforms have fully matured, unless you want to outbid your competition on social ad spend. There is no more time to debate whether social media is necessary for modern business — it has already proven its worth. It’s time to start growing social.
Setting goals, pacing, and reporting
Simply creating a social media account, slapping your logo in the profile picture, filling out your information in the “about us” section, and posting once a week is not going to get the job done. If you really want to get the most out of social media, you need a concrete strategy written down on paper (preferably in a digital format) that holds the marketing team accountable to a high standard of excellence.
Every social media strategy should begin with a list of aspirational, but attainable SMART goals. Every family-owned business will have goals that vary based on the services, core competencies, and areas of interest, but nonetheless, will need to have social media goals dedicated to:
- Increased number of followers
- Increased social media conversions on your website
- Increased engagement
- Improved response time to customer messages
If your family-owned business would like more information about these metrics and how they can be measured, this article written by Buffer covers each in-depth.
After you have selected your social media SMART goals, it is time to turn them into Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). A Key Performance Indicator is a quantitative, pragmatic, and focused objective that is meant to drive action. Think of it as a SMART goal boiled down to a narrow and well-defined set of metrics needed to achieve the overall objective.
For example, if your goal is to grow your social media following by 100 followers a month, and you know that you must actively target and engage with 350 social media users in your target audience every week to attain this goal, then your KPI would be “target and engage with 50 social media users daily”.
By laying the foundation of your social media strategy with SMART goals and KPIs, you provide your team an actionable set of specific metrics to drive results. Based on these metrics, your team can pace towards these KPIs and SMART goals every day.
Pacing is one of the most important aspects of SMART goals and KPIs. Make sure your team is reflecting back upon their original KPIs and are constantly aware of how they are measuring up to the pace. Pacing towards KPIs should be documented in a spreadsheet that is available for your entire team to see. By allowing full visibility, your marketing team will be able to analyze and communicate when it’s time to double-down, make a pivot, or continue on the path to social media success.
When you have reached the endpoint of your social media strategy goals and KPIs, it is time to reflect and report your findings. Your report should be full of key metrics and data to either support your success or show your shortcomings and areas that need improvement.
After the monthly or quarterly report has been completed, all members of the social media team and key stakeholders at your family-owned business should have a meeting to discuss how the team measured up to the original goals and KPIs, and what improvements can be made in the future.
Becoming The King (or Queen) of Content
It is often mentioned that “Content is King,” but seldom discussed how you become the “King of Content.” Social media, at its core, is nothing except content. Every post your family-owned business makes, every comment, like, and share is the content that makes up social media. The creative is the variable that determines how well it will play and how successful your efforts will be.
Think of social media and content the same way as you think of simple economics. Social media is the channel of distribution, content is the product, social media users are the market, and the rules of supply and demand apply.
In simple terms, there is no limit to the number of posts that your business should produce in a determined time period. Gary Vaynerchuck, the world’s foremost social media expert, says that you should post 100 times to social media every day. While that kind of scale is not attainable for every business, it does back a significant social media theory — that you can never oversaturate your audience with content that they find valuable. Finding a posting cadence that works with your team will take time. At a bare minimum, you should be posting original content to every social media account for your family-owned business at least once a day.
As with your social media marketing strategy, your content needs planning and strategy across the entire team in order for successful execution. The backbone of a successful content operation is a social media content calendar. The content calendar will allow you to create posts in bulk and in advance so that you are prepared for the weeks or months ahead. In addition, the content calendar allows your team to review your content strategy, edit typos, and provide feedback to improve the overall creative. Illumine8 recommends creating posts two weeks at a time, so you are always prepared, but still able to be timely to any company and industry updates, or social media trends.
Once you have the content prepared for the coming weeks or month, your team will need a social media scheduling tool to schedule the posts in advance. There are several options available such as HootSuite, Buffer, SproutSocial, and Later. Once you have your social media scheduling tool set up, you will be able to test which times of the week are best for the performance of your posts.
In the end, the creative is the only variable that matters when it comes to content. “Creative” is the term marketers use to refer to the complete package of a social media post — the copy, image, and call to action. Pushing the limits of your creativity while maintaining brand standards, and continually testing what works with your audience will be the deciding factor in your ability to scale your social media following quicker and engage with your audience better.
While hashtags are part of the content that you will be posting, it is such an important and misunderstood topic, that we decided it needed an entire section. A major part of your overall social media and content strategy will need to be hashtags. No matter what industry you work in or topic you are discussing, there is a community of people tagging that subject matter with industry- or topic-specific hashtags — this, my friends, is the gateway to strategically engage with your target audience on social media.
Maximizing your use of hashtags begins with research. The use of popular hashtags for industries and topics will vary significantly from one social media platform to another, so make sure that you conduct hashtag research for each specific platform. Create a document where you can store the hashtags that are valuable to your social media strategy for each platform. You can refer back to this list as you create your content calendar.
Optimize your content by including popular, relevant hashtags on every post. It is OK to use a large number of hashtags on a single post, but it is best practice to separate the hashtags from your main copy with descending, spaced-out periods or dots. As a rule of thumb, only use hashtags that are relevant and specific to your business or post.
In addition to adding hashtags to your post, you should be actively engaging with other businesses and individuals who have tagged the same hashtags in their posts by searching for the hashtags. By commenting and liking posts that use the same hashtags as your family-owned business, you will be able to attract more engagement from your target audience to your page. However, be careful as to how many posts you like and comment on at a time. All of the major social media platforms have community standards that block accounts if suspected of spam. Keep your engagement within 10-15 likes and comments at a time.
Interacting with your audience
With a social media strategy, SMART goals and KPIs, content calendar, social media scheduling tool, engaging content, and hashtag research, there is only one step left to cover — interacting with your audience.
As you begin to grow your social following, it is easy to focus your attention on generating new followers while forgetting about the ones that you already have. It is important that you do not forget about your audience.
When you receive a new follower, make sure to send a friend request so that your family-owned business can continue to engage with their posts down the road. A simple like or comment can go a long way in solidifying your brand.
In addition, social media provides a real-time customer service aspect that your family-owned business needs to take seriously. Respond to any messages or comments to defuse tension, improve transparency, and create a positive customer experience.
Establishing your voice on social media as an expert in the community or industry that your business serves will only continue to become more important as businesses across the nation begin to understand the importance of successful social media marketing. The good thing is, the majority of family-owned businesses encounter the same struggles you do with social media.
Not only is there still much potential for growth on these platforms, but developing an understanding of them, establishing your brand within them, and building a strategy around them will position your family-owned business to gain leverage and expertise over competitors. Growing a social media presence takes time and the sooner you get started doing it the correct way, the further ahead you will become.
About The Author
Liam assists with communication between the client, the Illumine8 team, and any outside vendors. Liam also helps strategize, plan, and execute marketing strategies and deliverables for our clients.