How to Market Your Small, Rural Business on Social Media
The media landscape has changed dramatically with the rise of digital content in the last decade. A Brookings Institute study shows that the number of newspapers in circulation in the United States has decreased steadily since 1980 . With many local newspapers closed, small businesses must find a new way to reach potential customers.
Small Business: Two Advertising Needs
Small businesses have two very particular advertising needs. They often have small advertising budgets, which means their advertising platform must be affordable. They also primarily or exclusively seek local customers, which means their platform must be location targeted.
Paid and word-of-mouth advertising on social networks like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter fulfill both requirements. Helpfully, both types of social media advertising are incredibly accessible, even to those who are less than tech-savvy.
Because social media collects and organizes large amounts of information about its users, social media campaigns can be highly targeted. If your product is, for example, one that can only be enjoyed locally (think restaurants or small farms), social media campaigns can be restricted accurately by location.
With 167 million daily active users in the United States and Canada, Facebook is the most popular social network in the Americas. Facebook offers two types of paid advertising: display ads and newsfeed ads.
The success of an ad is measured in the percentage of people that clicks on the ad after it sees the ad. This is the click through rate (CTR). The average CTR for a Facebook display ad is 0.04%, quite low. The average CTR for a newsfeed ad, on the other hand, is quite high at 2.09% .
There is no minimum advertising budget on Facebook, which means no barrier to entry that prevents small businesses from advertising. Statistically, a business should expect to pay around $0.30 for every click it receives on Facebook .
Organic Advertising Is Cheaper Than Pay-Per-Click
Advertising organically by word-of-mouth on social media is typically less expensive and more effective than paid advertising. Social media is incredibly effective at sharing word-of-mouth messages about businesses to large audiences of eager followers and friends.
Asking a loyal customer to endorse your product on social media is an inexpensive way to advertise your business. Often, enthusiastic customers are willing to spread the word about your product in exchange for a freebie or discount, both of which cost much less than the price of paid advertising.
Potential customers also trust peer recommendation more than any other type of advertising. This makes endorsements from Facebook friends more effective than paid advertising at influencing individual sales. In 2013, 25% of people (the highest in the study) said seeing a peer recommendation on Facebook would inspire them to make a holiday purchase .
Asking for peer recommendations from loyal customers on social media is also a very ethical way to advertise in a small town. If the person who endorses you is a loyal customer already, the endorsement is genuine. Also, sending freebies or discounts the way of your favorite customers is a great way to reward them while they help you out by spreading the good word about your business all over the net.