We challenge you to find anyone these days who doesn't use social media to some degree. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google Plus, Pinterest, the list goes on - and these channels don't exist purely to help us talk to our friends. They use very clever systems which collect a lot of data about their customers, and they use this data to sell very targeted advertising to businesses. In fact, the more you learn about social media advertising, the more you won't want to use these services for your personal profiles!
Can social media bring you new customers? We believe that social media marketing currently offers the best value advertising for a small business with a retail location. You'll get better results and a much more measurable success rate than you could achieve with local newspaper advertising or a leaflet drop (although these can both work well to bring new customers in to your store too!) Before you start using social media to raise awareness and customer numbers in your independent store it might be worth looking at your branding and choosing a consistent style.
Does anyone? But we understand that social media can be a black hole, drawing you in and before you know it you've wasted another hour looking at cat videos! So we recommend that (unless you have a LOT of time on your hands), you choose one social media service to put your effort into, and perhaps if you feel you can fit another in then go for it! If you're looking for advice on which channel to start with, we recommend Facebook as being the first place to invest your time, as it is the most popular and also has the best paid advertising functionality. It also allows you to schedule posts. This is very important - we suggest spending an hour once a week or fortnight scheduling content to appear automatically. You can still add items periodically or react to news or current affairs but it will mean that if you get caught up on a stock take, your business still appears active online!
That's OK! If you really don't have the first idea about how Facebook works, I recommend starting with a personal profile. You'll need one anyway to manage your business page from, and it really is the best way to get an overview of how it works. You'll notice that once you've built your profile you see adverts delivered in a number of formats. These are paid adverts and something that you really want to consider.
Once your personal profile is created and you have explored and want to take the next step, you can create your business page. You'll need a profile photo (ideally square) and a cover photo (a wide rectangle image that sits across the top of your page), and we suggest using your logo or photos of the store for these. Get as many photos as possible on your social media channels! Show potential customers what things are like in your store and give them the impression that it's an interesting place to be and there are regular events worth attending.
Spend a bit of time looking at the profiles of similar businesses to get an idea of what works - look at the likes, shares and comments of their content and you'll soon see what makes a successful post. Steer clear of using it only to communicate offers - keep a balance of news, information and promotions. Click here to discover more about content.
Once you have an established page with profile picture and cover photo sorted, and have regular content sorted, it's time to consider paid advertising. Even if you work hard to build up a fan base, Facebook will only display your content on a very small percentage of your fans' newsfeeds, unless you pay them to do so.