Love it or not, social media is a vital part of your small business’s marketing efforts. These interactive communications technologies – Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn and others – have changed how companies, customers, and the wider world communicate.

And Canadians are among the most active social media users. According to Statista, after email and online banking, social media is the third most popular online activity among Canadians, with an estimated 34.47 million users and a network penetration rate of 89% as of mid-2022. That makes Canada one of the world’s most connected online populations.

Social media is also indispensable since it offers small businesses and self-employed professionals an affordable and direct means of communicating with their existing customers while attracting new business. Furthermore, an estimated 69% of Canadian social media users use one or more social channels daily, and 16% use them several times a week.

Social media apps on a mobile phone

These technologies can help you grow your brand awareness, research competitors, enhance customer service, promote your products and services, and potentially drive new sales. But how do you determine if your social media marketing efforts are working? The answer begins with understanding your social media return-on-investment (ROI).

What Is Social Media ROI?

Your social media ROI measures your actions on the various social media channels you use to create value for your business and understand if the investments you’re making in it (money, resources, time) are worthwhile. It can be weighed by a monetary or non-monetary value depending on your objectives, such as brand awareness, customer service satisfaction, and revenue earned. For example, if your goal is to raise brand awareness, you can track your follower growth, engagement, and impressions.

Your social ROI also helps you know what marketing strategies are working and determine a budget for future social marketing plans.

Here are five ways to improve your social media marketing efforts and ROI, grow your audience, and drive more traffic to your small business’s website:

1. Identify Your Goals

What are your goals for using social media? There can be many, from driving new business to your e-commerce website to increasing brand awareness, enhancing customer service, and managing your business’s reputation. Once you identify your goals, determine which channels are best for your business based on where your target customers are. One of your goals with social media should be building relationships with customers and prospects.

In other words, don’t jump to sign up for every free social network available under the sun or be wooed by the buzz around the newest social media app that’s trending. Instead, think about your business’s audience, future customers or prospects, and what networks they use.

For example, most of Instagram’s audience (30.1%) are Millennial (people aged 16 to 41 years old) or Generation Z users (people aged 10 to 25 years old) – according to Hootsuite, global users aged 16 to 24 prefer Instagram to TikTok(!). Meanwhile, data suggests Facebook has around 30 million users in Canada, with the majority (24%) belonging to the 25-to-34-year age group and 18.4% in the 35-to-44-year age range.

2. Measure Your Efforts

Regularly taking stock of your social marketing metrics is essential to measuring your performance. To achieve your goals, you need to track how your channels and efforts resonate with your intended audience.

Each social network you use provides analytics you can view to measure performance on an hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual basis. You don’t need to obsess over metrics, but comparing your performance month-over-month can often reveal insights about which posts are grabbing attention and what demographic is engaging with your content.

3. Cultivate Customer Loyalty

Social media tools can also give your customer service efforts a boost and help enhance customer loyalty. So, think beyond attracting new followers by providing your existing clientele with helpful advice. Humanize your brand by showcasing your employees and give ‘behind-the-scenes’ peeks at how you operate. Be responsive to what your customers are saying to you on social media by addressing their concerns as quickly as possible and recognizing their achievements when they share them online.

Through this type of engagement, you will build and nurture relationships with your existing customers, drive loyalty and business referrals, and generate recurring revenue. According to Sprout Social, 64% of consumers want the brands they do business with to connect with them via social media. When customers feel connected to brands, more than half (57%) will increase spending with that brand, and 76% will buy from them over a competitor.

4. Post Frequently and Consistently

It’s important to post relevant content on your social channels regularly. Developing a forward-looking content calendar of what you will post, where, and when can simplify the process and ensure your messaging is aligned with your overall marketing goals.

You don’t have to post multiple times a day but choose a cadence that works for you and stick to it. So, if you decide to post on Twitter and Facebook twice weekly, ensure you do it consistently, as it will help drive engagement and improve your visibility.

If you have multiple social networks, you might want to invest in a social media management tool such as Hootsuite, Sprout Social, Napoleon Cat, or MavSocial (there are others) to schedule your posts, track performance, and ensure consistency.

5. Analyze Your Competition

Inspiration can come from anywhere. It occurs spontaneously and involves being inspired by something and acting on it. That includes monitoring what your competitors and other organizations you admire are doing on their social channels and being inspired by what you see to improve your social marketing efforts.

How often are your competitors publishing on social, what kind of content, and on what platforms? Are they running paid social advertisements? If so, on what networks and where are they doing so? Also, take note of the hashtags they use (the “#” symbol followed by a word; like ‘#smallbusiness’). Think of hashtags as categories. Using them on relevant keywords makes it easier to show up more easily on different social networks.

There’s no shame in taking a page from a competitor’s social marketing playbook to enhance your social media ROI. But be selective. The idea is to see what your competitors and others are doing for inspiration and compare it to your social performance.

Protect Your Business: Get Insurance

Regardless of the type of small business you own or the industry you work in as a self-employed professional, it’s critical to protect yourself with a comprehensive business insurance policy and one that includes cyber liability coverage.

Fill out an online application to get a free quote. Let our licensed brokers help you get the protection you need at a price you can afford, so you can focus on running and growing your business.

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About the Author: Liam Lahey

Liam is the Content Marketing Manager at Zensurance. A writer and editor for more than 20 years, he has been published in several newspapers and magazines, including Yahoo! Canada Finance, Metroland Media, IT World Canada and others.