How well are you using social media to market your business? By Andy Kollmorgen
One thing has become dead certain in this otherwise confusing age of all-powerful social media: you want to make these digital platforms your friends. Topping the list would be Facebook, the number one communication hub on earth.
Facebook started off as a way for people to get in touch and stay in touch, but it’s no secret that it has morphed into something much bigger than that. These days, it’s an essential tool for businesses, journalists, social enterprises, governments, spy agencies, you name it.
It follows that you should want to harness the far-reaching power of Facebook toward furthering your business goals, as many large corporations with fully staffed social media departments are eagerly doing nowadays.
It can be hard to compete in the social media universe if you don’t have the right resources, but the good news is Facebook has starting lending a hand to small businesses that generally can’t afford big social media departments. And as is frequently the case with high-tech initiatives coming out of California, it has kicked off the new program right here in Australia.
In August this year, Facebook launched its ‘Street Smart’ campaign in Victoria, aimed at helping small businesses—including vet practices—improve their digital marketing techniques on both Facebook and Instagram (which is owned by Facebook).
Program lead and head of Marketing for Facebook and Instagram in Australia and New Zealand, Alexandra Sloane, says Street Smart represents “the first time Facebook has launched a small business community activation of this kind anywhere in the world”.
In the context of a vet practice, not unlike other businesses, the idea would be to develop enough digital skills to rise above the white noise on the internet and get a clear and compelling message out there about why your practice is the best place for people to take their pets. It’s also about targeting that message to the right people.
As the Aussie firm, Wise Up Marketing, puts it in their pitch, “a presence on social media is not enough—for the best chance of being ahead of your competition, your business needs an expertly developed strategy”.
Given the many millions of Facebook posts bouncing around the internet night and day, developing a strategy to cut through the noise is not as easy as it sounds—which is why Facebook is taking a hands-on approach, starting with the approximately three million small business owners in Australia.
The campaign got under way in the Victorian town of Mordialloc, where Facebook staffers worked with three small businesses—OCD Skate Shop, Noomi (a bean bag and cushion shop) and the Albatross Brewing Company—to help them better use Facebook and Instagram to their advantage.
A big focus of the campaign is to help business owners put together better ads optimised for smartphones, where most prospective customers consume their content these days.
Among other things, a good smartphone strategy means getting a handle on editing apps both for images (such as Snapseed or Over) and videos (such as Videoshop and Quik). In the right hands, such tools can do wonders for your digital identity and give you a point of difference.
Aside from getting you across the latest gizmos you may not be aware of, some of Facebook’s ‘Street Smart’ advice is as straightforward as making sure you have a good image or video to begin with and are paying close attention to lighting.
“A presence on social media is not enough—for the best chance of being ahead of your competition your business needs an expertly developed strategy.”—Wise up Marketing, Sydney
The Street Smart program also provides guidance on how to piece together a makeshift home studio (involving cardboard boxes) that will enable you to create smart phone-friendly marketing material that will stand out from the efforts of unschooled amateurs.
And it will be good to be better connected.
“With 83 per cent of people on Facebook connected to at least one SMB [small to medium size business] in Australia and 77 per cent of people on Facebook in Australia connected to at least one SMB in a foreign country, small businesses are using the platform to reach their desired customer both locally and overseas,” Sloane says.
OCD Skate Shop owner Che Giblin says the program has been a welcome reminder of just how important social media is.
“We’ve had a social media strategy in place for a while now, but we’ve been mostly focusing on Google,” Giblin says. “This was really about getting back to basics with Facebook and Instagram, and working through the program to improve our presence on those platforms. Mobile devices are a major focus, and the tips have really been helpful so far because we probably weren’t focusing on that as much as we should have been. We’re still in touch with the Facebook people and are committed to really getting a handle on this, because we know from our previous social media work that it can make a huge difference.”
Along with the world’s biggest social media platform itself, the federal government’s Department of Industry, Innovation and Science is also urging small businesses to get a better grip on their social media strategies, and to this end offers a number of tips:
- Know your audience’s age, gender, budget and where they live so you can tailor your message accordingly.
- Know which social media platforms your customers prefer—is it Facebook, Instagram or something else? Consider sending out a survey or asking customers to tick a box at the clinic.
- Use a social media management tool so you can post when your audience is most active on the platform, post to multiple platforms at once, and generate reports on how well your social media engagement is going.
- Install follow buttons on your website so visitors can click to follow you on Facebook, Instagram or another platform.
- Use the right platform for the post—Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are generally best for connecting with people, while Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube are best for sharing media.
- Set the right tone—avoid jargon and talk to your social media audience using clear, simple language and humour whenever possible.
- Offer incentives (but not gimmicks) for your customers to follow you on social media, such as low-cost freebies or discounts.