Thumbs-up GroupOne of the most frustrating dilemmas small businesses face in social media marketing is audience development. On Facebook that means getting more “Likes.” On Twitter and LinkedIn, it’s all about attracting followers.

If you can’t stand another day of staring at your abysmal audience size, here are some simple steps to help move the needle.

Are You In the Right Place?

Many businesses launched into social space with faddish abandon. It’s what everybody was doing, so they just followed the crowd to Facebook and Twitter. In their rush to establish presence, they didn’t ever consider whether their social media choices were truly the right fit for their businesses and, most importantly, their customers.

That’s especially the case the Facebook. Small business pages are a dime a dozen on the platform, and they generally always have low bases. There’s a reason for that: certain businesses just shouldn’t be on the platform, PERIOD. They need to face the fact that either their content or the focus of their business simply isn’t interesting or valuable enough to attract the average user.

Think about it. Would you like your divorce attorney’s Facebook page, knowing that their daily updates on family law will be a daily reminder of one of the worst experiences of your life? Which would you rather see: a sideline pic of your favorite running back or an article on how to evaluate private exchanges for employee health insurance?

That said, I highly recommend that virtually all B2Bs shut down their Facebook pages and redirect their energies to building an audience on LinkedIn where their updates, article shares and commentary are in context with the social mindset of other professionals on the platform.

Who, What, Where,When and Why?

The journalistic 5 might help explain why your fan base is low:

  • WHO are you trying to target with your content? Will they be interested in your company and content you have to offer?
  • WHAT are you sharing with your audience? Did you know that posts with photos consistently perform better with users than status updates?
  • WHERE are you posting? Is there even an audience on the social media platform in question for your company and its content? If you’re not sure, check out the Social Media Cheat Sheet for Brands or my previous post on choosing social media channels.
  • WHEN are you posting your updates? While the best and worst times to post are always up for debate, the best time for Facebook is between 1:00 and 4:00 p.m.; Twitter 1:00 and 3:00 p.m. and LinkedIn from Tuesday-Thursday between 9:00 and 5:00 p.m. But, your audience might be visiting or engaging with your content on an entirely different schedule. Check your page’s performance statistics to determine the optimum time. You should also look at how often you’re posting. One post per week or per month is not going to help you or your audience.
  • WHY are you posting? To be social on any platform you need to have a content strategy to accomplish your business goals and objectives. Posting a 10 percent off coupon once a quarter is not a content strategy, nor is posting to Twitter or LinkedIn when you finally get around to writing a new blog post.

Advertising Tools

For those committed to using Facebook to reach new clients, consider running ads or promoted posts using the platform’s advertising tools. The results can be dramatic. One of my clients invested only $600 in targeted ads to grow their Facebook audience from 25 to over 4,900 likes in under eight weeks! Similarly, Twitter offers advertising promoted tweets and lead generation cards to target new prospects on the platform. Ryan Deiss, a professional marketing consultant, used a combination of keyword and interest targeting with promoted tweets to, not only attract the right customers to his business, but to then realize a 300% ROI for a campaign promoting a marketing course offered through his company.

Cross Platform Integrations

Success in social space requires cross-promotion. What are you doing to promote your social media pages in your store or to grow awareness among your existing clients? Consider adding social media links to your e-mail newsletters and the email signatures of each member of your staff. And, most importantly, give people a reason to follow you! That window cling in your storefront window with the Facebook and Twitter icons isn’t enough to generate a trip out to your page, let alone a like or a new follower. Add a standee at point-of-sale that lists all of the things people can expect from following your social media pages, including deals and discounts, fun content, etc. If you’re in the B2B world and have a newsletter, set aside one send a month that summarizes all of the things you shared on your LinkedIn page for the previous month.

It Takes Work …

If social media marketing is the cost of doing business in the digital age, that means working smarter to achieve the desired results for your business. And, with only a few simple moves and minimal investment, you can transform your social media space from a wasteland into a thriving community where your customers will like what they see again and again.

Pat McKenna

Pat McKenna is a digital strategist, social media manager, web designer and founder of MojoWeb Productions, LLC. in Milwaukee, WI.

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