Social media has become an essential tool for small businesses aiming to capture market share in their niche in 2024.
Platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook can not only reach a huge global audience, but also connect businesses directly with their audience, fostering a community around brands and products.
However, with constant algorithm updates and shifting user behaviors, staying ahead requires flexibility and knowing what to focus on.
This article will dive into the 2024 essential strategies for small businesses using social media marketing. They’ll help your content resonate with your audience and set up your brand up for big growth.
Understanding Your Audience
Understanding your audience is the cornerstone of any successful social media strategy, especially for small businesses.
There are now a wide variety of social media platforms, each with its unique demographic and user behavior. It's crucial not just to know who your audience is, but also where they spend their time online. Different demographics gravitate towards different platforms; for instance, younger audiences may flock to TikTok and Instagram, while a more mature demographic might still prefer Facebook.
Creating audience personas (also called buyer personas, customer personas, etc.) is a powerful tool in this discovery process. Personas help you paint a picture of your ideal customer, understand their needs, habits, and pain points, and tailor your content accordingly.
This deep dive into your audience's preferences enables you to choose the right social media platforms for engagement. Not every platform will be relevant to your business, so focusing your efforts on where your audience is most active will maximize your return on investment.
Better yet, aligning your social media strategy with the preferences and behaviors of your target audience will mean that your message gets their attention.
For example, if your audience values educational content, platforms like LinkedIn or YouTube might be more appropriate channels for sharing in-depth tutorials or explainer videos. On the other hand, if your audience seeks inspiration and visual content, Instagram and Pinterest might be more suitable.
Understanding your audience is not a one-time exercise. It should be a continuous process of monitoring, learning, and adapting to their changing preferences. This will not only help you create more engaging and relevant content but also build a loyal community around your brand.
For a deeper dive into audience personas, check out this video:
AI Tools and Social Media Software
Choosing the right software to help automate tasks is crucial for small businesses. They offer the ability to create content, schedule posts, manage engagements, and analyze performance across multiple platforms. This saves you time, increases your output and helps you to be more consistent.
Social media management platforms like Agorapulse and Hootsuite offer comprehensive solutions for scheduling content, monitoring engagement, and analyzing the performance of your social media platforms. They’ll keep you connected with your audience without the need to be constantly online, allowing you to plan ahead of time and execute your social media strategy more effectively.
Social media management software also provides useful insights into your social media performance, helping you make data-driven decisions and prioritize what to work on.
More recently, AI tools have emerged to make creating content easiesr. Chat GPT and Copy.ai help you write content and copy fast. Midjourney allows you to create super-realistic, photograph-quality images in seconds. Video editing software Descript automatically creates a transcript of your video, then allows you to edit the video like you were editing a document. With Opus Clip you can upload one long form video, then its AI tools will automatically create 10 short-form videos, ranked by how viral they are likely to be when shared on social media.
There’s a huge number of AI tools out there. It’s a matter of trying them out and finding the one that works best for you.
Investing in software should ultimately increase the efficiency and effectiveness of your social media marketing efforts. This will free up resources (cash, time, or both) that you can then redirect towards other strategic initiatives.
Short-form Video: The New Content King
"Content is King" is now a very old saying, but it’s still as relevant and important as ever. It requires a content strategy that captivates and engages your audience effectively on social media.
In 2024, short-form video content, such as Facebook/Instagram Reels, YouTube Shorts and TikToks, have become a must-use content format. A big reason for this is that social media platforms prioritize content from accounts users don't already follow, significantly increasing your reach to potential new followers.
When using short-form video, adopting new and trending features can give your content an organic boost, set your brand apart, and make your content more visible and engaging to users.
It’s not just limited to dance video. Your short-form videos can be how-to guides, educational posts, and insightful commentary that positions your brand as a thought leader in your industry, building trust and credibility among your audience.
For example, a mortgage broker might share tips on how to save for your home deposit, or what to expect when applying for a loan. This says to their audience ‘We’re the experts in lending’, increasing the likelihood that prospects will reach out to them when they need a home loan.
The key to a successful short-form video content strategy lies in diversity. Mix up your video topics to discover what resonates best with your audience. You can also research to see what other similar businesses are doing and whether it’s working or not.
Engagement Over Broadcasting
Success for your small business on social media in 2024 relies not just on the content you broadcast but also on how you engage with your audience.
Social media is a two-way communication platform, designed not only for sharing information but for creating meaningful interactions. Engagement goes beyond responding to comments and messages; it's about creating a community where followers feel heard, valued, and connected to the brand.
Diligently responding to comments, messages, and mentions is crucial. An unanswered query or unacknowledged mention can deter potential followers and even lead to losing existing ones.
At the appropriate time, move the conversation to a direct message (DM), where you can have a more meaningful conversation and nurture the prospect towards becoming a paying customer.
Most of the social media platforms have a centralised inbox for their platforms, such as Meta’s Business Suite. Or if you want one that covers all social media platforms, a tool like Hootsuite's centralized social inbox will ensure no interaction goes unnoticed.
Steer clear of practices like purchasing followers or engaging in follow-for-follow schemes, as these can damage your brand’s authenticity and harm your social media presence.
Collabs and Partnerships
Collaborations and partnerships are a great strategy for small business social media in 2024.
Teaming up with relevant businesses, creators and influencers not only broadens your reach but also introduces your brand to new audiences organically.
These collabs can take various forms, from co-hosting events to cross-promoting products and services, each offering unique benefits that contribute to mutual growth and visibility.
Partnering with creators and influencers, particularly those whose audience aligns with your target market, can be especially impactful.
A creator is someone who creates content in a niche, like travel, typically for brands who want to reach their target audience. Creators typically don’t have as many followers as influencers but have very strong engagement.
An influencer, on the other hand, is someone who typically has a large number of followers and promotes their personal brand. People follow this individual and the story of their life, unlike a creator who is typically followed for niche content. Influencers tend to promote a wider variety of products and brands.
Using creators and influencers taps into the trust and rapport they have with their followers. When selecting a creator, influencer or other brand to collaborate with, consider whether they are a natural fit with your brand values and audience interests to maximize the effectiveness of the partnership. Also, when they create content, share it on your social media accounts too, or consider turning it into a paid advertisement.
The Rise of Social SEO
Social SEO is a major trend at the moment and looks set to become even bigger in the years ahead. It involves techniques to improve the chances of your social media content being discovered (i.e. ranking) in search engines.
Strategies include the strategic use of keywords, hashtags, and alt text in your posts, profiles, and images to ensure they are easily found by both the social platform's search function and search engines like Google.
Incorporating keywords into your social media profiles, bio and content can significantly increase the likelihood of you appearing in search results when someone searches for related topics to those keywords. This increases potential conversions and helps you grow faster on social media.
This is particularly important as platforms like TikTok, which have their search results indexed by search engines.
Leveraging AI in Paid Ads
Leveraging paid promotions is a strategy that most small businesses should be using to turbocharge their results on social media in 2024.
Organic social media marketing is great, however it’s not ‘free’. You have to consistently create engaging content, which can be time-consuming and expensive. There’s also no guarantee that your content will reach the right audience, or result in them taking the action that you want.
With paid social media ads, you can target your content directly to your ideal audience. The ad platforms allow you to set criteria such as demographics, interests, behaviors, and more.
Better yet, many ad platforms now leverage artificial intelligence to find the best audience. For example, Meta’s Advantage+ audience will automatically find the people most likely to respond to your ads, lowering ad costs and improving your return on ad spend.
You’ll also get guaranteed reach to that audience within a certain range. Yes, you have to pay, however you know that you’re putting your content in front of the right people, instead of ‘hoping’ it does when you share organic content.
Social media ads can also help you achieve different marketing goals, from increasing brand awareness and engagement to driving website traffic and conversions. The ad algorithm will then optimize the delivery of your ads to help you achieve your objective. Even on a limited budget, you can compete in an otherwise crowded landscape.
Measuring success in social media for small businesses in 2024 is about more than just counting likes and followers. It's about understanding the impact of your social media activities on your overall business goals.
Key performance indicators (KPIs) such as engagement rate, reach, website traffic generated from social media, conversion rates, and the growth of your follower base are crucial metrics.
Engagement rate, for example, can tell you how much your audience interacts with your content, which is a strong indicator of how relevant and compelling they find it.
Similarly, tracking website traffic from social media can provide insights into how effectively your content is driving potential customers to your site.
You can obtain this data from the free Insights offered by social media platforms, free analytics platforms like Google Analytics, as well as third-party social media software.
It's also important to look beyond the numbers and understand the sentiment and feedback from your audience. Monitoring comments, messages, and social mentions can offer insights that help refine your approach and content strategy.
The strategies outlined here provide a great 2024 roadmap for small businesses looking to grow using social media marketing.
From understanding your audience and using AI software tools, to creating short-form video, fostering engagement, entering into collaborations, optimizing for social SEO, leveraging AI features in paid ads, to measuring your success, each strategy plays an important role.
Remember though, the key is both execution and flexibility to adapt. Listen to your audience’s feedback, analyse your data, try out new things and be hungry to learn.