On June 8, Facebook announced that it would expand its Community Boost program in an effort to mitigate the skilled labor shortage in the U.S. A study by Korn Ferry found that if the global labor shortage isn’t addressed, it could result in 85.2 million unfilled jobs by 2030.
Community Boost is Facebook’s effort to train 1 million U.S. small business owners in digital and social media skills by 2020, and the program is slated to visit 50 cities by the end of the year.
Facebook has targeted the right market, as social media is a great way for small businesses to reach a large audience without spending a fortune. From promoting general brand awareness to engaging with both satisfied and unhappy customers, social media fosters and scales connections with the online community that can lead to more traffic in stores and on websites.
To take your own social media initiative to the next level, start with these three tips:
Rely on marketing help from companies like Facebook and Microsoft
For small business owners who find themselves stretched in myriad entrepreneurial directions, it can be difficult to dedicate enough time and effort to make a significant impact through social media marketing. On the other hand, big players like Facebook and Microsoft have vast resources and, in some cases, are willing to share them.
Microsoft’s Global Partner Marketing Channel provides partners with social assets and pre-designed ads that require only a company logo to be ready for dissemination, while Facebook Marketing Partners are experts that can help you put together the right social media strategy.
Partnership marketing is a valuable way for small businesses with limited resources to expand their influence and reach more customers. Whether you partner with an industry giant like Microsoft or a complementary business just around the corner, partnership marketing can spark results that you wouldn’t dream of achieving on your own.
Prioritize the appropriate social networks for your niche
There are so many social media platforms these days that it’s hard to keep track of what’s what, but that doesn’t mean your business needs to be featured on every one of them. Imagine the hours of setup and ensuing maintenance involved in an effort to keep all of them current.
Instead, focus on the platforms that are most influential with your audience—not every company needs a Pinterest page. If your business caters to young people, Instagram and Snapchat will likely be the most effective, whereas if you run a staffing agency for information technology personnel, it would be more useful for you to have a LinkedIn page.
If you’re new to your industry and aren’t sure where to start, take a look at what your competitors are doing. The profiles they maintain might reveal the most useful social platforms for you, and those audiences will likely be interested in what you have to offer, as well. Be careful not to copy your competitors’ content, however. They’ve built up a following over time with unique, engaging content, and you’ll want to do the same.
Put some money behind your efforts, but stay on budget
Your social media spend will ultimately depend on what kind of overall marketing budget you can muster, but no matter how much you’re willing to shell out, you need to be specific about what you hope you achieve. Without goals, it will be impossible to measure how successful your efforts are. Drawing up a social media marketing plan will help you put your goals into writing and point you toward the best tactics to reach them.
Plenty of small business owners start out by investing huge amounts of their own time and money in creating organic content. The problem with this strategy is that it requires you to compete with—and beat—vast quantities of user-generated content. By utilizing paid social, you can ensure that your content shows up in your audience members’ feeds and generates the brand awareness that could take an organic campaign months to achieve.
Whether your small business operates locally or has customers around the country, social media is a perfect way to reach and expand your audience without breaking your budget. To get the best return on investment possible from this marketing method, focus on profitable partnerships, the right platforms and the proper utilization of paid social.
Jeremy Goldman is an author, keynote speaker and founder of digital branding and marketing consultancy Firebrand Group.