These days, finding "sure thing" marketing strategies for small business can sound like a complete hoax, with the landscape so oversaturated with Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts from companies around the world. While there's no instant solution to building a strong social media presence and gaining a larger following, there are a few shortcuts at businesses' disposal - that is, if they're willing to look for them.
Optimal posting times on Facebook
Like all areas of marketing, social media promotions abide by a relatively specific formula that indicates when users tend to be on their computers and what sort of content will draw their eye to your feed. There have been books written on the topic, but the blog for BufferApp, an application designed specifically for sending out specific pieces of social media at certain times instead of the often-manic constant refreshing of a company's various feeds, published an article with some hard evidence.
According to writer Belle Beth Cooper's research, Facebook's posting patterns are both best-researched and easiest to track. Engagement rates, according to a study by Buddy Maia, are 18 percent higher on Thursdays and Fridays - as he puts it, "the less people want to be at work, the more they are on Facebook!" This information, though somewhat vague, could inform the day your Facebook page could benefit the most from a contest or engagement, and is a solid small business solution.
If you're looking to make waves with a Facebook announcement, the study also indicated that the weekend is the time to start a discussion that will endure. While most weekday likes and comments are made sometime during the workday as employees peek over their shoulders for lurking higher-ups, the cloud hosting service experiences 32 percent higher engagement throughout the weekend as people comment more thoughtfully from the comfort of their own homes.
Marketers should also be aware that in terms of Facebook posts, size matters - a separate BufferApp article from Leo Widrich cited a BlitzLocal study which indicated that the longer a post is, the less likely it will improve business efficiency and increase audience reach the way posters hope.
"Longer posts tend to perform poorly," the study stated. "The ideal interaction being driven by posts is between 100 to 119 characters. Questions tend to drive interaction up by 10 to 20 percent."
In addition, the inclusion of engaging and relevant photographs not only increases the eye-catching quality a post may have, but also its sheer size in a news feed. The study recommended small businesses looking to improve their Facebook stats should always make an effort to engage right after an initial post, as 70 percent of total interaction occurs in the first hour of a post's life. Ideally, one Facebook post a day with an appropriate amount of engagement with the viewer as well as a focus on customer service will quickly foster a happy following.
How to master the art of the tweet
Unlike Facebook, a well-manicured Twitter presence requires a higher volume of posting and a completely different approach to content altogether. When planning your online marketing for small business campaign, count on a successful account tweeting anywhere between one and four times during peak web traffic hours for optimal results. Self-proclaimed "social media scientist" Dan Zarrella did a comprehensive study on best Twitter practices for companies that are looking to expand their reach.
With only 140 characters to make an impact, those tweeting from a business mobile phone should be careful of linking and potentially "spammy" text, according to Zarrella. An ideal and likely successful tweet will be anywhere from 120 to 130 characters long and include a link about 25 percent of the way through the text. However, beware of linking in every single post - the research indicated that the clickthrough rate plummets when too many external links are posted by a single account.
Finally, like Facebook, Twitter use is highest over the weekend when typical full-time workers have time to kick back and catch up on what their favorite users have been up to. In contrast to Facebook's popularity in the afternoon, Zarrella's research showed that Twitter is better suited to night owls and that more clickthroughs, favorites and retweets were generated either during lunch breaks or after five in the afternoon each day.
Of course, there's always room for error - according to Cooper, a study Twitter conducted itself showed highest mobile engagement during commute times and work hours.
"Twitter did an interesting study of these users [who primarily use a mobile device for social media] and found that they are 181percent more likely to be on Twitter during their commute," her article on BufferApp detailed. "They're also 119 percent more likely to use Twitter during school or work hours."
Internet for small businesses is a highly specific, sometimes untapped resource that can be used to your advantage when done correctly - stay informed and keep on posting!