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The Handy Guide to Social Media for Small Retailers

The Handy Guide to Social Media for Small Retailers

Out of the eight billion people in the world, over half are active on at least one social media platform, and that's doubled since 2017! What does that mean for a small business? Simply put, it's your chance to reach new and loyal customers, and you could be missing out on a huge opportunity if you're not engaging with your audience. In fact, 71% of businesses similar to yours are using social media to market themselves.

Starting out as small retailers, Socksmith founders know too well what it means to wear all the hats. Until a few years ago, Sockmith was made up of a small team, and social media was the first task to get pushed down the to-do list. As our partners, we want to share our secrets with you, and trust us when we say keeping up with social media should be one of your top priorities. 

In 2020, we hired our Social Media Specialist, Kat, who started out as a part-timer, shortly thereafter was taken on as an FTE (when she showed us how valuable social media could be) and was recently promoted to Social Media Manager, who now manages a team of two. Sockmith owner, Ellen Gil, says that every time she looks on social media, she is "...blown away by the quality of our content" that our social media team produces. 

Social Media Manager, Kat, is here to share her top tips for growing an online presence as a small business. 

The Value of Social Media for a Small Sock Retailer

The barrier to entry for social media is low enough for any small dog to jump, and that includes you. Kat says, "No matter the size of your business, social media is an opportunity to increase your brand awareness and engage with loyal customers." In fact, 57.7% of people are likelier to buy from a brand they follow on social media. 

If you can follow our best practices in this guide for managing your business's social media, it can unlock the following for your brand:

  1. Increased visibility: Small businesses can reach potential customers they might not have reached otherwise.
  2. Increased customer engagement: Social media provides a platform for small businesses to engage directly with their customers and receive feedback.
  3. Cost-effective advertising: Promoting your brand on social media can be more affordable than traditional advertising methods.
  4. Brand building: This can help build and reinforce a small business’s brand and identity.
  5. Competitive advantage: Small businesses can gain a competitive advantage over their competitors who may not be using social media as effectively.

How Do I Determine Which Platforms Are Relevant for My Store?

It's all good knowing that social media is a necessary task for your business, but with all of the platforms out there, it can seem overwhelming, right? Kat's methods for finding key platforms to target our Socksmith audience look like this:

  • Identify who your target audience is. If you're a small business owner, then the chances are you're hands-on interacting with them every single day. Easy! 
  • Research what platforms you can find your target audience in. Check out reputable blogs: this one is one of our faves, and do some research to help you understand the audiences found on each platform.
  • Make a list, in chronological order, of the platforms that make the most sense for your brand. Consider bandwidth. Do you have a dedicated person that is able to take on managing different accounts with ease? Start off with the platform(s) that made the top of the list. 
  • Be real. Lastly, decide how many platforms you're realistically able to manage and maintain without compromising quality.   

Most importantly, don't make assumptions. There is enough research out there to help you determine which platforms you can use to reach your demographic. We've put together the below visuals to help you see some deeper demographics when it comes to social media platforms by age and gender.

Facebook usage by age and gender
Instagram usage by age and gender
Twitter usage by age and gender
Pinterest usage by age and gender
TikTok usage by age and gender
YouTube usage by age and gender

Graphs produced by Socksmith and data collected from Hootsuite and Exploding Topics.

Setting Goals and Expectations

Sounds fancy...how do I do it?

Ultimately, your social media goals are meant to support your overarching business objectives. Here are some tips for setting goals:

  1. Goals must be measurable and specific. So for example, if your goal is to increase sales, define how much you want sales to increase by and in what timeframe.
  2. Tailor your goals and strategies to reach your target audience.
  3. Review current social media metrics to determine where you can improve and if your current goals are realistic.
  4. Establish a timeline and set specific milestones periodically to ensure progress. 
  5. Go back to evaluate your progress and adjust as needed. Remember that social media is constantly evolving, and it's ok if your goals do too.

Common social media goals can include: 

What KPIs are important to me?

The KPIs (key performance indicators) you focus on will depend on the goals of your business; however, here are some common social media KPIs and metrics for measuring their success:

KPIs for reach/awareness:

  • Impressions
  • Reach
  • Follower count
  • Mentions/shares
  • Growth Rate ((# of new followers / total followers) x 100 = growth rate percentage)

How to track these metrics: Explore and keep track of the analytics available on the social platform. As a business account, social media platforms are often on the ball with recognizing a brand's need to be able to measure progress. Oftentimes, this info will be available to you in real-time on each platform. 

Learn about insights available on Facebook and Instagram here.

Learn about insights available on LinkedIn here.

Learn about insights available on YouTube here.

Learn about insights available on Twitter here

Learn about insights available on Pinterest here.

KPIs for engagement:

  • Likes
  • Comments
  • Engagement Rate (by reach or followers) ((engagement / reach) *100 = engagement rate by reach) ((engagement / followers) * 100 = engagement rate by followers)
  • Clicks 

How to track these metrics: These metrics will often be available on the platform itself. Rates and percentages can be calculated using platform analytics.  

KPIs for conversions:

  • Click through rate
  • Conversion rate
  • Cost per click
  • Lead conversions (email sign-ups, downloads...etc) 
  • Sales 

KPIs for retention and loyalty:

  • Issues resolved
  • Reviews/ratings 
  • Customer satisfaction/sentiment 

How to track these metrics: These are qualitative metrics that may be a little more tedious to measure, but they're important nonetheless. Read up on what people are saying about your brand (comments, review sites, DMS, mentions...etc.). Analyze the inquiries coming in to understand the needs, opinions, and desires of your customers. 

Budgeting: Organic Vs. Paid

Organic and paid social media are riddled with their own list of positives and negatives. Here's a look at some pros and cons.  


The pros and cons of organic reach


The pros and cons of paid reach

Creating Content

So you've done your market research, established your goals, and set up your accounts. Now what? Creating good content doesn't have to be complicated. Here are Kat's best practices.  

How can I engage my audience and get new followers?

  • Ask your audience what they're interested in, and build a relationship with them. Be social. It is social media after all! Polls on Instagram stories, for example, are a great way to get your audience to tell you what you want to know. 
  • Be fun! It's easy to get caught up in the sales part of the gig, but keeping your content interesting and fun is fundamental to keeping your audience engaged.
  • Post regularly and consistently. Like with all good things in life, it's all about consistency. 
  • Actually interact with your audience (answer your DMs, respond to comments...etc).
  • Collaborate with other accounts (that make sense for your brand) to reach new audiences.
  • Make a good impression with a tidied up profile + bio. Take the time to make sure this represents your brand nicely. It is the first impression, after all. 
  • Analyze your insights to understand what content performs best + make adjustments accordingly.

How can I create good content with minimal spending, time and resources?

  • Follow accounts that do the social listening for you. For example...
  • Leverage user-generated content. Encourage your audience to share their content, then repost them (with their consent) to your accounts. Not only will this nurture a sense of community and relationship with your audience, but it's also easy as pie. 
  • Repurpose old content. As long as it's still relevant to your brand, reuse those old posts, images, or videos proudly–especially if it performed well the first time around.
  • Use free online tools to create new content (our favorite is Canva).
  • Plan your posts with a content calendar. It can be as simple as filling in a Google Calendar, but organization is critical to saving time.
  • Keep it simple. Share simple quotes, images, or gifs that align with your brand, without spending too much time or resources.

How can I stay relevant?

  • Stay afoot of social media news by subscribing to relevant newsletters and blogs. It's an ever-changing industry, so be prepared to go with the flow. This is one of our favorites. 
  • Understand what people are searching, and tailor your content to what they're searching for. You can use tools like this one.
  • Follow popular accounts + influencers relevant to your industry.
  • Try out new features as they launch! Get to know the latest capabilities of the platform firsthand.

Be Patient...

Building your brand is time-consuming, so take baby steps and remember that if you put the work in, it'll be sure to pay off. Celebrate the small wins! 

Socksmith is always looking for small retailers to collaborate on social media with. Interested? Reach out to us here.

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