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97% of Fortune 500 Companies Rely on Social Media. Here’s How You Should Use It for Maximum …

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Social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, YouTube and Pinterest offer countless ways for brands to connect with customers (both old and new). Here’s how to do it well.

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With the proliferation of technology over the years, small businesses have become increasingly dependent on digital tools to succeed. From e-commerce stores to mobile apps, companies have undergone a significant amount of transformation, experiencing a massive shift to the online sphere. One of the key technological developments that has helped small businesses succeed in reaching customers across wide distances is social media. With social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, YouTube, Pinterest, and many more, there are countless creative and innovative ways brands can connect with their existing customers and convert new ones.

The world of social media is undeniably fruitful and saturated, and that doesn’t appear to be changing anytime soon. As of 2018, nearly 97 percent of all Fortune 500 enterprises use at least one social media platform to promote their initiatives and foster positive communication with stakeholders. Additionally, as of 2021, there are roughly 3.78 billion social media users all over the world, a 5 percent increase from 2020. With this in mind, it’s clear that harnessing the power of social media can help small businesses grow and succeed in 2021 and beyond.

High-impact benefits of social media for small businesses

When it comes to growing your small business, social media offers a host of advantageous functions, including:

  • Affordability: On social media, companies can achieve high-quality brand recognition even on a limited budget. While the exact amount that a company spends on social media will vary between entities, there are several tools and strategies small-business owners can implement to get the most bang for their buck. For example, while some companies may invest in social media planning software programs or paid Facebook ads, this isn’t a necessity, especially for a small-business owner who is just launching their venture. Entrepreneurs can create a Facebook and Instagram page for their business entirely free of charge as a starting point.

  • Close-knit customer service: Social media platforms allow for direct, instant communication between brands and customers, which can offer an enhanced sense of connection and increased satisfaction with the level of customer service provided. Considering the integral role that customer service plays in building brand loyalty, it’s vital for small-business owners to use social media to their advantage in bolstering their own customer service operations.

  • Targeted reach: When you purchase ads on placement sites such as Facebook or Instagram, you can directly reach your target audience. You can even tailor your ads to home in on particular demographics, such as sex, age, salary and location. By targeting specific consumer segments, you’ll be more likely to increase conversion rates and subsequently boost profits.

  • Brand community growth: Social media platforms bring people together. In growing your social media presence, you are fostering a unified community that has mutual respect for and interest in your brand. Down the line, this community could potentially develop user-generated content and spawn brand ambassadors for your company.

  • Extended business hours: If you’re running a traditional brick and mortar business, it’s a given that you need to have set working hours. However, with the help of social media, you can ensure that your business rarely sleeps. Given that social media profiles are available 24/7 and are accessible from anywhere, it can help your business evolve into a nonstop operation. You can even set up automated responses and chatbots to serve as customer service representatives when you and your human employees are off the clock.

Related: How to Create a Stellar Social Media Marketing Plan for Under $100

Plan and automate your content

As a small-business owner, you have a multitude of responsibilities that likely leave little time for creating social media content. However, there are several platforms available, such as Later, Sprout Social and Planoly, that help you create, plan and automate your content. These tools greatly facilitate the process of uploading and editing photos, writing captions and publishing posts. You can also see what your feed will look like ahead, prior to publishing to ensure a cohesive, well-curated profile that aligns with your brand identity.

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Use reports to analyze metrics and reassess existing strategies

Be sure to clearly define which metrics (i.e., click-throughs, engagement rates) are important to your small business. Assess which metrics help you make informed business decisions, take action or judge the value of certain initiatives. Once you decide which metrics matter to your company, use reports to analyze these metrics. Reports streamline all the data that is crucial to adequately understand your customer base and their consumer behavior patterns. You can then use this information to reassess your existing strategies and make adjustments as needed.

Related: How You Should Be Evaluating Your Content Marketing Success

Seek external social media assistance

To help you navigate the transformative social media landscape in 2021, consider using the services of social media companies. Offering expert insight into social media practices, such as content planning, competitor tracking and sharing curated links, such companies can provide you with valuable resources to expand your social media following and broaden your online presence. They also understand useful tools that make platform-specific content creation a breeze.

Moreover, these professionals understand how to translate brand voice and personality into the digital space, and know firsthand that many consumers use social media for fun and leisure. As a result, the content your small business publishes on these platforms should be fun and engaging. If you’re struggling with this process, a social media specialist can help.

Clearly, the power of social media in helping brands reach new heights is not a passing trend. Rather, social media platforms of all kinds have proven to be an impressive force in growing companies across all industries. In a global society that is becoming increasingly reliant on technology, this trend shows no signs of dissipating. As a result, having a social media presence for your small business is an absolute necessity to attain success in 2021 and beyond.

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Related: How Brands Can Develop a Winning Social Media Marketing Strategy in 2021

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Instagram Is Rolling Out Reels Replies, And Will Be Testing A New Feature Which Informs …

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Instagram has added a few more social features to the platform, with Reels Replies being rolled out. Along with the Replies, anew feature is being tested that shows when two users are active together in the same chat.

Reels has been performing much better than perhaps even Instagram ever anticipated. The TikTok-inspired new video format (which officially claims to have absolutely no relation to the former) had some trouble really finding its footing initially. However, Reels has grown massively and while it may not be a source of the most direct competition to TikTok, it is indeed a worthy alternative.

Reels has grown to the point that it has a massive creator program attached to it, and the video format has even been migrated to Facebook with the goal of generating further user interest there. Naturally, with such a successful virtual goldmine on its hands, Instagram has been hard at work developing new features and interface updates for Reels, integrating it more and more seamlessly into the rest of the social media platform. Features such as Reels Replies are a major part of such attempts at integration.

Reels Visual Replies are essentially just what they sound like: A Reel that is being used to reply to someone. It’s a feature that’s been seen frequently across TikTok as well. Reel Replies essentially take a user’s comments, and reply to them in video format. The comment will then show up within the Reel itself as a text-box, taking up some amount of space, and showing both the user who issued said comment along with the text. The text-box is apparently adjustable, with users having the ability to move it around and change its size depending on where it obstructs one’s Reel the least.

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Overall, it’s a fun addition to the Reels format, even if the credit should be going to TikTok first. At any rate, it’s an example of Instagram really utilizing Reels’ social media capabilities, outside of just serving it up as a form of entertainment.

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Speaking of social media capabilities, a new feature might help alleviate one of the most common frustrations encountered across all such platforms. Isn’t it annoying when you see that a friend’s online, but isn’t replying to your chat? Sure, they’ve probably just put their phone down to run a quick errand, but there’s no way for you to know, right? Well, there sort of is now! Instagram is beta testing a new feature via which if both users are active within a chat, the platform will display that accordingly. It’s a work-around, sure, and one that’s currently being tested for usefulness, but it’s still a very nice, and even fresh, addition to the social media game.

Now, the active status will only appear when you are both active at the same time.#Instagram #instgramnewfeature@MattNavarra @instagram @alex193a pic.twitter.com/2chGZP9hr4

— Yash Joshi  (@MeYashjoshi) December 10, 2021

Read next: Instagram Plans On Allowing Users To Return To Its Old Chronologically Sorted News Feed

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5 apps for scheduling Instagram posts on iPhone and Android

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Alright, we get it. You’re an Instagram Nostradamus.

You know exactly what you want to post and when you’re gonna want to post it. Maybe there’s a meme or comment you want to make that you know will be totally relevant for a future moment or event. Or it could be that you’re an influencer and you want to make sure you keep a steady stream of content coming, so you want to schedule posts for times when you know you won’t be active (or won’t have internet access).

You’ll be happy to know there are apps that are specialized for just such situations. So listen up, InstaNostradamuses…Instagrostra…Instadam…Insta…uh…you guys (we’ll workshop it. No we won’t. We’ll probably just abandon that effort completely. You’re welcome) — these are the Instagram-post-scheduling apps for you.

While all of the iPhone apps below are free to download, they all have some in-app purchases.

1. Planoly

PLANOLY

We’ll start with “official partner” of Instagram, itself, Planoly — an Instaplanner that uses a grid to let you plan, schedule, and publish posts (as well as Reels) on Instagram. The app also lets you see post metrics and analytics so you can make sure your post didn’t flop.

Planoly is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

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2. Buffer

BufferCredit: buffer / app store

Buffer is another Instagram post scheduler that helps you plan your posts and analyze feedback once they’re published. Use a calendar view to drag and drop posts into days/time slots for easy scheduling.

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Buffer is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

3. Preview

PreviewCredit: preview / app store

Preview offers typical post-scheduling tools and analytics along with a few helpful extras. Get caption ideas, recommendations for hashtags, and more.

Preview is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

4. Content Office

Content OfficeCredit: content office / app store

An Instagram post scheduler with a visual boost, Content Office allows users to plan and schedule Instagram posts while learning “marketing and visual guides to grow your brand on Instagram.” Like aesthetics and using visuals to create cohesive themes? Maybe this is the Instaplanner for you.

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Content Office is available for iOS on the Apple App Store.

5. Plann

PlannCredit: plann / apple store

You’ll never guess what “Plann” lets you do…

Aside from scheduling posts, get content ideas and recommendations, as well as strategy tips to ensure you’re maximizing your Instagram engagement. Ever wonder when the best time to post something is? Plann can offer you some help with that.

Plann is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

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Social networking websites launch features to encourage users to get boosters

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Facebook Instagram and TikTok are launching new features to encourage people to get their coronavirus booster jabs.

From Friday, users will be able to update their profiles with frames or stickers to show that they have had their top-up jab or aim to when they become eligible.

It follows on from people previously being able to show they have had their first and second jabs on certain social networking websites and apps.

TikTok also held a “grab a jab” event in London earlier this year.

I urge everyone who is eligible – don’t delay, get your vaccine or top up jab today to protect yourself and your loved ones

More than 16 million booster vaccines have now been given across the UK.

People who are aged 40 and above and received their second dose of their vaccine at least six months ago are currently eligible to have their booster.

A new campaign advert is also being launched on Friday, which shows how Covid-19 can build up in enclosed spaces and how to prevent that from happening.

Vaccines minister Maggie Throup said:  “Getting your booster is one of the most important things you can do to protect yourself and your family this winter.

“It is fantastic to see some of the biggest household names further back the phenomenal vaccine rollout, allowing their users to proudly display that they have played their part in helping us build a wall of defence across the country.

“I urge everyone who is eligible – don’t delay, get your vaccine or top-up jab today to protect yourself and your loved ones.”

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