Social media has become an indispensable marketing channel for small businesses everywhere, including those right here in St. Mary Parish. Statistics show the power of social platforms to boost sales and brand visibility, with over three-quarters of social media users making purchases after seeing products promoted on social networks. Additionally, 68% of consumers follow brands on social channels to stay updated on new products and offerings.

In this blog post, we take a deeper look at the reasons social media marketing is critical for small business success in the St. Mary Parish area. Even more importantly, we provide actionable tips and advice to help small business owners make the most of key social platforms such as Facebook and Instagram.

Why Social Media Matters for Small Businesses in St. Mary Parish

Reach New Customers

Social media provides small businesses like those in St. Mary with an affordable way to connect with potential new customers. Instead of relying solely on costly traditional advertising, small businesses can grow their audience organically on these platforms by consistently publishing content that provides value to their followers.

The key is to not only attract new people but also engage them by meeting their interests and needs. Done right, this online word-of-mouth can incrementally expand a business’ reach and allow it to promote itself to targeted groups that may otherwise be difficult to access through other marketing channels. 

Customer Engagement

Social media channels also open up valuable new opportunities for customer engagement and community building for St. Mary businesses. These platforms allow companies to interact directly with patrons, nurture relationships, and cultivate brand affinity.

Businesses can leverage social media to develop an online community centered around their brand where they answer questions, facilitate discussions, and engage with customers.

Additionally, social channels empower St. Mary companies to drive participation through creative promotions like giveaways and contests while encouraging users to organically share their own branded content and experiences.

Build Trust and Credibility

Social channels give a venue for brands to publicly display customer testimonials, user-generated content featuring their products or services, and reviews.

When potential customers can view this type of third-party content vouching for a company on their social pages, it reinforces that brand’s reputation and validity.

Done consistently over time, it will make customers feel connected to the real people behind a business and build the trust needed for them to become loyal brand advocates.

How to Make the Most Out of Your Social Channels

Here are several essential tips for making the most of your chosen platforms and effectively engaging your target audience online.

Whether you are just starting out with social media or trying to improve existing efforts, these best practices aim to help streamline your approach, increase visibility, and drive more conversions across the social space.

Look at Past Performance Data

When launching social media marketing efforts for your St. Mary Parish business, one of the first steps is to review data and insights from any previous social media activities. If you have run social media campaigns or posts in the past, dig into the analytics and performance numbers:

  • Examine engagement rates on various types of content you have shared – were certain post types, topics, or media formats more likely to get likes, comments, clicks, and shares? This can guide you towards content themes and styles that resonate most with your target audience.
  • Look at reach and impressions data to see which customer demographics you have had the most traction with on social platforms. This can inform how you set up targeting for future campaigns.
  • Analyze the performance of any past social media ads in detail. Which creative approaches, objectives, placements, and target specifications drove the highest click-through rates or conversion rates? Use these learnings to optimize new ad iterations.
  • Study when your followers tend to be most active on social media and align your posting strategy accordingly.

Optimize for Mobile

As smartphone use continues to grow, it’s critical that businesses optimize their social media presence for mobile devices. The majority of social media time is spent on mobile, so content needs to be designed with that in mind. 

When creating Instagram Reels or Stories, aim to use vertical, full-screen formats that fill a mobile screen to make sure that the content doesn’t get cut off.

Mirror Messaging Across Channels

To make the biggest impact across social media and other marketing channels, it’s important for businesses to maintain consistent branding, messaging, and tone of voice across all touchpoints.

Visually, branding elements like logos, colors, fonts, and imagery should be mirrored on social profiles, email signatures and newsletter templates, websites, print materials like business cards and flyers, and any other collateral. Using the same visual assets and color schemes creates cohesion from channel to channel. 

Messaging should also align across platforms. Key messages, value propositions, taglines, and other verbal brand elements should be integrated consistently into social captions and videos, blogs and website pages, email newsletters, print ads, and more.

Utilize Interactive Elements

Take advantage of built-in interactive features on social platforms like polls, quizzes, and questions to actively engage your audience. These tools make it easy to get input, spark conversations, and incentivize participation with your followers. 

You can create polls to survey customers on new product ideas, upcoming events, or what content they want to see more of. You can also post engaging questions on social channels and encourage users to respond in the comments.

Experiment With A/B Testing

One strategy that can help St. Mary Parish businesses better optimize social media performance is to utilize A/B testing in their content creation process.

A/B testing involves creating multiple variations of a social media post or campaign and then posting them simultaneously to see which option delivers the best result. It allows brands to refine social strategies using actual audience data instead of guessing. 

You can test out different elements within your posts as variables, such as images, captions, calls to action, and content type. You can then analyze the engagement and conversions achieved by Option A versus Option B to determine a “winner”.

For instance, a restaurant could create two Instagram post variations to compare performance:

  • Option A uses an appetizing photo of an entree special, a descriptive caption about ingredients, and prompts viewers to click the link in their bio to see the weekly menu.
  • Option B uses the same entree photo with a shorter caption highlighting a seasonal ingredient, prompting viewers to reserve a spot by adding a clickable call button.

After running both post variants over a testing period, compare metrics, including post reach, engagement rate, link clicks, and phone reservations, between the options based on key marketing goals. If option B drives more quality engagement and conversions closer to defined objectives, that variation would be the winning post formula for future content.

Read also: How to Optimize Your Google Business Profile to Reach More Customers in St. Mary Parish

Ready for the Next Level? Connect with St. Mary Economic Development

The possibilities of social media for small businesses are endless. With the right social strategy tailored to your objectives and audience, you can drive meaningful results for your St. Mary Parish business. For additional local small business resources, contact us at St. Mary Economic Development. 

St. Mary Economic Development offers many tools and resources tailored specifically to support the parish’s small business owners and entrepreneurs. Some of our services include site selection services, workforce support, incentive and tax credit assistance, and more. Reach out any time for personalized guidance on available support relevant to your venture.   

Contact us today!