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Digital Marketing Tools 101: A Beginner’s Guide to Selling on Social Media

By Angela Bao
Jan. 28, 2021
Digital marketing tools your business needs. (Photo credit): Gettyimages.com/Hispanolistic

An overview of social media platforms and the tools small businesses need to set up successful profiles, increase reach and boost engagement

Social media can seem overwhelming to small and micro businesses. There is a multitude of platforms that are not only saturated with content, but also require different mediums and strategies. However, social media is also a very powerful and easy-to-use tool that can greatly impact small businesses’ bottom lines.

According to Statista, 2021 will see nearly 3.8 billion social media users worldwide, and in 2018, GlobalWebIndex found that 54% of social media users used social media to research products.

“It's important for small and micro businesses to use social media to market and sell because it's one of the most inexpensive ways for them to have a broader reach than they normally would have with any other type of old school marketing,” says Sarai Garrett, founder and CEO of The Marketing Millennial.

Overview of key social media platforms

There are five social media platforms that small businesses should consider when they’re first testing the digital marketing waters, and each has their own tools for businesses, says Garrett.

  1. Facebook
    • Facebook business pages to showcase your business and what it does
    • Facebook Ads and Facebook Ads Manager to help businesses reach customers
    • Facebook Live for live videos that allow you to connect to your audience in real time
    • Facebook Marketplace that allows people to buy and sell items
  2. Instagram
    • Instagram business pages that allow you to link directly to your website
    • Instagram Ads that show up in users’ feeds
    • Instagram Shopping that allows users to shop the products in your photos
    • Instagram Stories and Reels that encourage more customer engagement
  3. YouTube
    • Videos that can showcase your product and how to use it
    • Live videos that allow you to engage with customers
  4. TikTok
    • TikTok for Business that allows businesses to create engaging short-form videos to promote their products and services, and push them onto users’ feeds
  5. LinkedIn
    • LinkedIn Sales Navigator that helps businesses find the right customers
    • LinkedIn Marketing that helps with branding and driving traffic to your website

The great thing about these social media platforms is that business owners can use them individually but also in conjunction with each other for greater effect, says Garrett.

“If you have more information that you want to share and that's going to help you lead your client to a website, then you might want to…use TikTok as the funnel to take you to your website, then to YouTube,” Garrett explains. “So you can…utilize all the different social media platforms in such a way where they can help point your clients to making a sale.”

Pay attention to these details when choosing an ideal social media platform for your online marketing efforts.

Choosing the right platforms

Picking the right platform depends both on what kind of business you have and who your target demographic is, says Garrett. Although there is audience overlap between social media platforms, certain ones will skew more heavily towards one generation or the other. For instance, only 23.8% of Facebook users are between the ages of 18-24, but 41% of TikTok users are between the ages of 16-24. So, if your business’ target customer is older, focusing your marketing efforts on Facebook makes more sense. Conversely, if you’re looking to reach younger generations, then TikTok could be the right avenue.

A great jumping off point is thinking about who your current customers are. “Something that I like asking people is, who's buying from you right now? Who's your market right now?” Garrett says. Oftentimes, business owners think too broadly in terms of target market out of fear of alienating potential customers, but Garrett states that narrowing your focus is the best way to find qualified leads.

“I really like groups on Facebook,” recommends Garrett. “Some Facebook groups are half a million [members] deep, some of them are like 100,000, but find those groups where you can start having conversations and building a way of funneling potential clients by having real conversations talking about your product.”

Although small businesses should start with just one platform at a time, there are also benefits to leveraging multiple social media platforms simultaneously. “It's great when you use all of the different social media platforms and all of the information that is in each of those platforms, because it's going to give you a bigger picture about who your market is,” says Garrett.

To help narrow down which platforms are best for your business, along with learning essential tips and best times to post, click here.

Tips for a great social media profile

The key to creating a great social media profile on any platform is having a clear understanding of the problem your business solves, your mission and your vision. That being said, Garrett says that brevity is key and businesses need to be able to distill those values into short messages.

“It's important to have something that's short, that's dynamic, and that really speaks to you and your brand,” she says. “It really speaks to where we are in terms of our attention, and how much we want to read, and how much time we want to spend on reading somebody's bio. Because if you can’t accomplish that in very short words, it's likely that people aren't going to be interested and want to follow you.”

For tips to build a better social media profile, click here.

Editing apps to up your social media game

Given the visual nature of social media, businesses should be thinking about making their content visually appealing—that’s where free graphic design apps like Canva and Logo Maker come in handy. They come with premade templates for a variety of platforms and mediums to make it easy for small business owners to leverage social media.

“That's what I love about where we are in technology today—you don't need to start where the big boys are to play with the big boys,” says Garrett. “You can start where you are.”

Social media #hashtags

Almost all social media platforms utilize hashtags to help creators get their content discovered by potential customers, which makes it an invaluable tool for businesses. Hashtags are clickable and will take you to a page with all the content that has used that particular hashtag, which can help businesses get inspiration for their own pages and gain insights into the consumer mindset. Similarly, potential customers can also click on the hashtag to discover new content and accounts.

“Hashtags are little labels that allow you to open the door into what the rest of the world is saying about marketing, about skincare, about anything that you could think of,” says Garrett.

To find the right hashtags, as well as to discover keywords that are directly related to your content, use Twitter’s own built-in search engine, Twitter Advanced Search. By searching a particular hashtag, you can see in what context it is being used and judge whether it’s relevant to your content. Additionally, you can use a hashtag tool, or a combination of several, to determine which hashtags are popular, how many people are seeing that hashtag per hour, how many retweets it gets per hour, etc. Popular hashtag tools include RiteTag, Hashtags.org, Trendsmap and Hashtagify.me.

This article is part of an East West Bank webinar series in partnership with Grameen America.

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