So, you’re looking for social media success stories and you’ve stumbled upon this blog post. I’m sure you’re prepared to hear yet another story about Wendy’s Twitter success or Ben and Jerry’s activism or Starbucks’ KPIs, and you’re wondering how you can possibly replicate those platforms as a small business owner. Obviously, there is value in learning about social media strategy from large companies; they are successful for a reason. But there is an important lesson to be learned from a small social media platform having big results: you do not need to be an expert to gain a competitive advantage from social media.
To see this, we’ll take a look at a small scooter shop in Gainesville, Florida — New Scooter’s 4 Less (NS4L). The company was founded by Collin Austin in April 2004, just one month after the launch of Facebook. He was very quick to jump on Facebook and immediately saw how advantageous a social media presence could be for his company. Since then, he has expanded to multiple platforms and learned exactly how to maximize his reach. For the rest of this article, we’ll take a closer look at what makes Collin successful on social media and how any small business can follow a similar path.
Know your competitive advantage
As a small-business owner, you may have limited resources, making social media a powerful tool that can become a competitive advantage if utilized properly.
For NS4L, social media gives the company a competitive advantage in customer service. Collin mentioned one of the key benefits of social media was his ability to build relationships with his customers. He actively engages with user content and personally replies to his customers’ concerns. While a large company like KLM may reach customers in an instant with its bot-like replies, NS4L provides personalized assistance and care (even through Snapchat!).
Collin recognizes customer service is his strength, and his entire social media presence is driven by it.
Know your audience
It is important for all companies to know their target audiences, but for small companies, it is particularly vital. You do not have the reach to target the masses and hope something sticks. You need to be specific and make sure your content is seen and resonates.
A large part of NS4L’s success is its awareness of its audience. Collin recognizes 98% of his audience is college students. Because the top three social media sites for students are Instagram, Snapchat, and Youtube, he has expanded onto all platforms (plus the recently rising TikTok). He caters his content towards college students with a casual, funny online persona and lots of Florida Gator references.
Collin may not be able to reach as many UF students as a single Wendy’s viral tweet, but by knowing his audience, he is able to reach the UF students that need scooters. And that’s what’s important.
Know your goals and how to get there
Collin knows his social media identity and he knows his audience, but what is it all for? To build engagement and drive sales. To do this, he utilizes a combination of micro-influencers, user-generated content, and paid advertisements.
Because of his audience, Collin relies on micro-influencers connected to the University of Florida, like popular UF vloggers and former UF football players. These are affordable options for NS4L, and they provide tremendous traction within the small Gainesville community. Similarly, user-generated content is a great way for NS4L to gain exposure at no cost. Engaging with and reposting user-generated content leads to more and more customers posting about their own scooter experiences. And lastly, Collin sometimes relies on PPC advertising or other social media ads to drive attention and sales his way.
At the end of the day, Collin’s measure of success on social media is how many sales he is generating. He sets benchmarks, uses his strategies, and adjusts according to the results. These steps are crucial for a small company to gain traction.
Be first and be flexible
So often we focus on measurable techniques and strategies to meet our KPI benchmarks. These are important and definitely necessary. But the simple things should not be lost in the complexity. One of the most important keys to success on social media is just paying attention.
Collin pays attention. He credits a lot of benefits to being the “first” to take advantage of social media opportunities. He was one of the first-ever companies on social media, the first to post an Instagram ad in Gainesville, and will be one of the first to use the new Linkedin features. By being the first, he’s ahead of the trends and gets more engagement.
And he is flexible. He is paying constant attention to the newest and latest fads, and he is continuously adjusting his strategies accordingly. That means stepping out of his Facebook comfort zone to learn how to make a TikTok or post videos on LinkedIn. Trends begin and end quickly, and by being flexible, Collin is able to maximize them.
Your success on social media should not be measured against the accounts with millions of followers and millions of dollars rushing in. Your success on social media is a product of your own personal benchmarks. As a small company, social media will provide you with opportunities to grow and reach a new audience. It is up to you to pay enough attention to be ready when they come.