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Social Media Trends for Small Businesses in 2017 Grab these five social media trends to consign old practices to the dustbin, embrace battle ready methods to win customers.

By Santosh Kanekar

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Grab these five social media trends to consign old practices to the dustbin, embrace battle ready methods to win customers and leave your competition behind.

The mood in the room is jubilant. It's a party atmosphere. Your Facebook Page has hit 1,000 likes.

Your agency and your marketing team are doing high-fives.

As an owner of your business, you are feeling excited too.

"Team, good job done. Now, what's next?" You ask.

"For starters, we are doing this next wave of viral videos on YouTube and then, we will post on Instagram 15 times a day while we do ten posts on Snapchat…" your marketing guy says excitedly.

"Wait, is that possible? And what about the Facebook where we just had success?" You ask with doubt creeping in.

"With an increase in budget, anything is possible. Not to mention a slight increase in our fees. And Facebook is now done and dusted; we need to be "liked' all over the place, everywhere" says your agency head sweeping his arms across the room.

Your doubts are growing especially on the mention of increase of budget "Why don't we focus on Facebook and grow this. And how does this increase my sales?"

The S word brings a chill in the room.

"We increase your brand awareness; sales is your headache. Social media has nothing to do with sales" says the agency person looking at you like a scruffy unwashed person just gatecrashed a high-end party.

Your marketing person is nodding his head.

"And what do I need to do to get sales?" You ask testily. Stony silence prevails.

Is this what social media is about? Will it be only about increasing likes?

Grab these five trends to consign old practices to the dustbin, embrace battle ready methods to win customers attention and leave your competition behind in the race.

Video is King

2017 will be the Year of the Video!

Facebook Live and Periscope made sure that there is a deep personal engagement platform for videos. Facebook users alone watch 100 million hours of video every single day!

Small businesses have used video to stay topical and quickly communicate relevant information to their customers. Here are some stats to get you kicking:

  • Real estate listings which have video receive 403% more inquiries than those without.
  • 64% of users are more likely to buy product online after watching a video.
  • 90% of users confess that product videos help them in their decision-making.

Video helps in communicating the complex to the simple in an engaging way. Whether it is big companies like Caterpillar using video to demonstrate their machines or the local bistro highlighting their latest nduja dish, video connects customers. Videos help in increasing engagement.

Social Media Engagement is vital

Gone are the days of likes and page views!

What is important is how much the content creates engagement. There are various measures, but the three critical ones are:

  • Engagement %: What is your Ratio of Comments to Followers? If your Facebook post generates 100 comments and you have 1000 followers then your Engagement% is 100/1000 i.e. 10%. Good or bad, Comments mean your audience is engaged with your content. They have an opinion, and they are voicing it.
  • Share %: What is your Ratio of shares to Followers? If your blog post generates 200 shares and you have 1000 followers then your Share % is 200/1000 i.e. 20%. A good Share % means that your audience loves your content and is spreading your message. They are on their way to becoming your raving fans.
  • Conversion%: What is your Ratio of Leads to Followers? If your Instagram post generates ten sales leads and you have 1000 followers then your Conversion% is 10/1000 i.e. 1%. Conversion% is the Holy Grail of Social Media.

Domination not just participation

While it is tempting to find the next shiny thing and chase it, it would be a waste of your marketing dollars.

Instead find out where your audience is hanging out. This information will be led by your buyer persona.

If Facebook is where your audience is most active, engage with them there. Entice them with Facebook Ads and then move them to your Facebook Business page.

If your audience is younger, then have an Instagram business account.

Develop a social media personality relevant to the medium and then dominate the medium.

While long form content rules in blog posts, quick snackable content is the rule in the world of Instagram and Facebook.

Content Rules

Long gone are the days when you could upload your ad which you made for networks onto the digital medium.

Gone are the days when you could make ads for digital and feel that is the only marketing you need to do.

Social media feeds on content.

Develop content which Informs, Inspires, and Entertains.

Find out what is relevant to your customer's life and give them the information that they want.

  • Are you a hiking gear company? Great. Talk about the best hikes in your local area and the world. Talk about the issues which are commonly faced by hikers. Develop Trust. Then weave in your gear story.
  • Are you a corner restaurant? Talk about the latest food trends in your local area and around. Make videos of how you are making your signature dishes. Show your chef visiting the market for picking up his recipe.
  • Are you an accountancy firm? Share the latest in small business accounting. Make your partners generate a video which simplifies complex tax issues. Share how you can help them through your Facebook posts.

Content which helps your buyer journey has to be the focus of your social media. Content is the step before Conversion.

Conversion is the only Goal

Do you want to your social media to generate business? Then, you need to focus on conversion%.

  • Does Your Facebook Page result in meeting requests?
  • Does your Instagram Influencer generate leads and business for you?
  • Does your YouTube video lead to more sales inquiries?

No, then the media strategy is only focusing on vanity.

With the proliferation of social media channels and the efforts by different business, it is easy to get lost in the noise.

Social media marketing should generate Leads.

You need to embrace Inbound Marketing for this. By developing a buyer persona and understanding the buyer journey, you will artfully weave your social media through the entire process.

The kinds of posts you will have during the various stages are:

  • Awareness stage: How to, problem-solving, opportunity mapping
  • Consideration stage: deepening understanding of different solutions, comparing various solutions
  • Decision stage: Product comparisons, feature comparisons, social testimonials

Social media should drive your customers through the marketing and sales funnel.

What are the next steps for you?

  1. Do a review of all the social media marketing efforts done in past year. What worked? Can we do more of it and how? What did not work? Can we shut it down?
  2. Develop goals for every stage of your social media marketing for next year. These goals will set up a measurement system for you to evaluate if you are on target.
  3. Use the above five trends as a checklist to guide your social media marketing initiatives on a week to week and month to month basis.

Social media is a big leveler.

Big budgets don't necessarily win this war. Smart Planning and Focus on Results do.

Don't let marketing become just an expense item.

Make your marketing drive your business results.

Santosh Kanekar

Startup Mentor, Leadership Coach and Author

Author of Stop Reset Start, Growth Rocket Launcher, and Leadership Coach, Santosh Kanekar founded BeLive Corp, which advices many Global Hedge and Alternative Funds based in New York, London, Singapore and Hong Kong. He regularly advises Startups on Business Planning and business acceleration.

He has coached hundreds of individuals and businesses to deliver high-performance results and launch their own Growth Rocket.

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