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How Can Small Businesses Stand out on Social Media

Owning a small business can make it difficult to compete with the big brand names that everyone already knows. The advantage that SMB retailers have compared to “big-box” retailers is their opportunity to create an authentic and unique experience for each of their customers.

While you may feel like even on social media you’re being overshadowed by the big guys, here are a few ways to stand out, and how to do it.
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Start a Vlog
Benefits:

Video is taking over the way people consume information. A fun way for small businesses to showcase their products and expertise about their business is to start a vlog, a.k.a, a video blog. Video blogs can cover topics from a new clothing line you’ve just started carrying, to fashion tips, to a personal entry about the success of our small business.

Vlogs are also great for promoting events and one-time sales. Aside from that fact that online videos now account for more than 80% of Internet traffic, a vlog creates a better sense of authenticity than your standard blog. This gives you a better opportunity, not just to increase the foot traffic in your store, it allows you to create a community with your frequent shoppers.

How to do it:

The great thing about vlogging is that it doesn’t need to be filmed in a fancy production studio. All you really need to start a vlog is a smart phone and an idea of the type of content you want to share with your viewers.

A great starting point for a vlog is to film an overview of your business, what inspired you to start it, and a tour. This introduction is a perfect way to create loyal viewers and customers who are interested in learning more from your vlog. And if you’re camera shy, try asking a friend, employee, or business partner to take the lead with your creative input!

Run Seasonal Campaigns
Benefits:

For retailers, you may find yourself needing to update your store for every season. This is especially true for clothing stores. By creating seasonal campaigns, you are not only letting your audience know that you are all set for the upcoming season, but showing them that you know what will be trendy for the upcoming season.

Seasonal campaigns are beneficial because they allow you to get very visual in your social media posting – which is great since Facebook posts with images see 2.3 times more engagement than those without images, and as of June 2016, there are more than 500 million Instagram users.

How to do it:

In order to announce your brand new stock of inventory for the upcoming season, you’ll need to create a visually appealing seasonal campaign. There are a few ways to do this.

In addition to the aforementioned vlog, try creating some promotional videos to help promote the new inventory coming in. Capturing visuals of outdoor seasonal scenes will trigger your audience to visit your store for a new winter coat. In addition to video content, Instagram and Pinterest are the perfect platforms to look to when promoting a seasonal campaign.
According to Shopify, 93% of Pinterest users use the platform to plan their next purchase. Hootsuite found that 75% of Instagram users are taking action, such as visiting a website, after viewing an Instagram post. By visually promoting products that are appropriate to the season on platforms such as Pinterest and Instagram, you’re much more likely to turn those “likes” into sales.

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Leverage User Generated Content
Benefits:

User generated content is a great way for small businesses to stand out on social media because it means that people are paying attention to and care about your business! By definition, user generated content includes any form of content such as blogs, wikis, discussion forums, posts, chats, tweets, podcasts, digital images, video, audio files, advertisements and other forms of media that were created by users of an online system or service, often made available via social media websites.

Put in more simple terms – user generated content is content posted by your customers about your business. This can include anything from an Instagram user posting a photo of them wearing an item from your latest clothing line, to a shopper writing a blog article about your business. Not only does user generated content often result in free advertising, but it helps you reach a wider audience through your customers’ network.

How to do it:

I know what you’re thinking – how do I encourage my customers to create content about my product? There are a number of ways to push that content out of your shoppers. The easiest way to do this is simply to use social media to interact with their audiences. If someone tags you in a post, make sure to leave a comment! There are also a number of social media monitoring tools that will help you scan for posts that mention your business but don’t tag your page. Surprising one of your frequent shoppers with a comment on their Instagram photo is almost guaranteed to increase
customer loyalty and stand out to all of their followers.

If you’re looking to boost your user generated content, try hosting a contest. Photo contests are probably the most popular way to get see more user content. For example, if you are the owner of a fashion boutique, try holding a photo contest on Instagram asking people to pose with their latest store purchases. You can create a hashtag for users to post along with their photos; that way, you can easily track who is participating in your contest, and choose a winner! People will notice the hashtag and it will help you stand out to a wider audience than you initially started with.

Competing with large retailers doesn’t have to be a ton of work. Social media has allowed retailers to connect with their customers on a more personal level, and will continue to advance in favor of business owners. Sometimes all it takes to stand out is the initial interaction.


Brianna Moriarty is the Marketing Communications Associate for Star Micronics with a focus in content creation and social media marketing. She frequently writes content to help small businesses build their marketing strategy and social media presence. Outside of her writing, Brianna enjoys traveling, music, fitness, and lots of coffee. LinkedIn | Twitter

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Social Media Trends for Small Business

Small to medium-sized businesses (SMB) and specialty retailers are on the rise. Over the past year, there have been huge shifts in the retail industry with large, “big-box” retail stores closing and online or discount retailers growing stronger. In order to stay on top, these small businesses need to find new and unique ways to market their business and keep up with growing marketing strategies. Social media has proved to be one of the most effective marketing tools for small businesses. Here are four social media trends for small businesses to pay attention to.

1. Video Content

Video content is taking over social media. If you scroll through your Facebook newsfeed, you’ll find that more and more content is video content. Social media has become less about sharing daily life updates and more about sharing the most viral content you can find. Not only is more video content flooding Facebook, but 85% of these videos are being watched without sound. The human attention span is shrinking, and as a business owner or marketer, it is important to keep in mind that you only have a matter of seconds to grab your consumer’s attention. With that said, you also need to find ways to portray your marketing message with no sound.

In addition to Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat are widely known as platforms to promote video content. Since Instagram decided to expand its video time limit to 60 seconds compare to the previous 15 second limit, businesses are taking to “the gram” for more video marketing. Even more recently, Instagram has jumped on the live-streaming bandwagon by introducing Instagram Live.

Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat are all the homes of the social media platforms with the most video content, and they all have one thing in common: live video streams. While Facebook allows users to live-stream, this content continues to exist on Facebook after the live stream ends. The concept of Instagram live is more similar to that of Snapchat where users can go live, but once the live stream ends, the video disappears.

For small businesses, this amazing new feature gives you the ability to see who is actively following you on social media rather than putting the content off until later. For retailers specifically, this is a strategic option for flash sales, one-time giveaways, etc. Like Instagram Live, Snapchat gives small businesses a way to see who is actively following them, and an opportunity to interact directly and personally with their followers. What better way to announce the restock of your most popular item or a one day sale for loyal shoppers than to send out a quick snap?

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2. Visual Storytelling

As mentioned, the average attention span is getting shorter, and marketers are looking for new and unique ways to grab their audience’s attention. Consumers are getting their information less through written blogs or eBooks and more through digital content such as photos and video. With the growth of visual-based social media platforms such as Instagram and Pintrest, businesses are now using visual content to build their brand by giving themselves a “brand look”. It has since then been found that branded images and GIFs are powerful pieces of content for small businesses.

Another benefit of using more visually compelling content is having the ability to cater to an individual audience. Being that small business often have a very specific focus, visual storytelling on social media will help these business appeal to their target market. A fashion boutique that sells clothing for young women will want a fashion-forward, trendy Instagram page, whereas a SMB retailer selling home décor may want to put more focus toward their Pinterest page.

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3. Staying Local

Social media marketing has advanced incredibly over the last few years. One of the greatest features offered through social media marketing and advertising is the ability to target posts to a specific audience based on location. When you own a small business, your local community tends to be your best customers.

Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn will allow users to target paid ads to users in your specific area in order to increase the amount of local customers who are buying from you. In addition, there are platforms that allow you to communicate to your followers where you are by adding your location to your Instagram photos, pinning your location on Pintrest, or using geofilter on Snapchat.

While location-based marketing is key for small businesses, location-based listening on social media is extremely useful. Social Media Examiner provides a full list of social listening tools that allow businesses to listen to and engage with customer who are in close proximity to their brick and mortar store. Social listening allows small business owners to listen to their local community without them even knowing it. With this information, small businesses can hear feedback from current customers and find ways to expand their business to appeal to a larger market within their local community.

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4. Go Organic

Social media marketing doesn’t require a large budget! Now more than ever is the time to take advantage of the millennial generation’s authentic mindset, and try stepping away from the paid social media ads. Small businesses tend to have small budgets and cannot invest all of their money into social media. Social Media Today has a simple solution for these businesses:
reduce, reuse, and recycle.

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Reduce

Rather than constantly straining your brain for new content and ideas, create content that can be used in different ways across all of your social platforms. By doing this, you can get away with creating new content less often.

Reuse

Make sure your content will not go stale too quickly. Work to create timeless content that you can reuse over and over again that will spark the interest of your followers every time.

Recycle

While it is important to vary your content across different social media, you can find ways to recycle your content. This means creating one big idea that can be used differently, or that you can take pieces from to promote across separate platforms.

While owning or operating a small business can oftentimes be difficult, marketing your business doesn’t have to be. The first step is simply creating your social media accounts, and make sure to create tons of valuable and shareable content to keep you one step ahead of the competition.


Brianna Moriarty is the Marketing Communications Associate for Star Micronics with a focus on content creation and social media marketing. She frequently writes content to help small businesses build their marketing strategy and social media presence. Outside of her writing, Brianna enjoys traveling, music, fitness, and lots of coffee. LinkedIn | Twitter

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