The Social Media Game Plan for Small and Medium Businesses in 2021

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Driven by the pandemic, 2020 saw a surge in social media usage, according to data from a survey in 17 countries by GlobalWebIndex (GWI), with 47 per cent of 16 to 64 year-olds spending more time online. Hootsuite reveals that at the start of 2021, 53.6 per cent of the world population adopted social media usage, with Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp, Instagram, and TikTok being the top used platforms . This surge is likely not to abate post-pandemic. It is necessary for businesses in 2021, especially small and medium-sized ones with constrained marketing budgets, to develop a social media game plan that lets them reach their audiences and achieve their marketing objectives.

Track the Right Metrics

According to Sproutsocial, social media marketers’ goals should be boosted brand awareness, expanded sales/lead generation, improved community engagement, amplified audience growth, and increased web traffic. The associated KPIs or metrics to measure engagement are likes, comments and shares; for awareness, impressions (the number of times a post shows up on a user’s feed) and reach (number of unique views on a post found by adding an account’s follower counts with the follower counts of those who share the post); and for audience growth, sales referrals and conversions.

Organic Efforts

Social media needs to act as a community-building mechanism, and not come across as geared to selling. Hence, organic efforts are the best for this purpose in low budgets. Content that resonates with your audience boosts followership and engagement. For that, you need to know the trends and the conversations in your industry and create content around those. For instance, Hootsuite allows for social listening, which is the act of tracking conversations, mentions, keywords and hashtags on various social platforms.

User-generated content (content about your brand shared by consumers on their social media accounts) is another important tool that viewers trust to be more authentic than brand-created content. Videos are an important engagement-boosting tool in the arsenal as they move beyond the static nature of posts.

Follower and awareness increase is also attributable to giveaway contests to boost audience interest and engagement. As part of these activities, a user shares information about an account in their network, and their network shares it further and so on.

Paid Efforts

Paid efforts should not be ignored. Hootsuite’s research shows that by the start of 2021 the audience for Facebook ads  grew to 2.14 billion. Showing ads to your audience using targeting options that focus on location and audience characteristics must be leveraged, at least with new launches or promotions. Near the end of 2020, Instagram’s ads audience had grown to 1.16 billion, so Instagram ads must be utilized too. Instagram ads must feature high-quality shots that are creative and awe-inspiring. Ads in stories are important too as stats show that by 2019 alone Instagram story users had grown to 500 million each day. YouTube is also a necessary platform as, according to Social Media Examiner’s 2020 report, it was used by 55 per cent of marketers. Inject humour in your ads as humour provides a form of entertainment, captures an audience’s attention and stays in their minds for longer. It is best to use the growing TikTok platform especially if your target audience is mostly people under 30. TikTok ads work well with someone talking to the audience, so it is very conversation-based.

Arslan Ahmed | Staff Writer

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