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Those who have been marketing on these platforms for a while have seen the evolution of images and videos taking over social media feeds, as well as organic growth on business pages slowing down. This is just a reminder that all that time spent growing your audience on social media doesn’t mean much if they are not actively engaged with your content.

Right now, social media advertising is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to get in front of a hyper-targeted audience online, both to send them to your website to sell your product/service and to encourage engagement on your content. With all of these potential upcoming changes, Facebook may cause ads on Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp to become more expensive for small businesses.

Don’t give up on digital marketing:

-Social networking has done some amazing things as well, including keeping people informed and raising money during disasters like the Wine Country fires each year.

But, there is more to digital marketing than just social media. Other forms of marketing can offer more control than you might have over your Facebook or Instagram pages—and yes, you can connect with customers on these other platforms similarly to a social networking site.

And if you are a small business owner or marketer who feels like their business is on hold due to the pandemic, here are some other forms of digital marketing every business should be paying attention to.

? Think about email differently. Email marketing is a great way to keep your biggest fans updated on your latest promotions, new products/services, behind the scenes, and upcoming events.

But right now customers are inundated with promotional emails, according to Gajendraditya Gaur, CEO & Co-founder and

Digital Guru Pro

So think of ways to keep your audience engaged with emails (as opposed to solely using emails as billboards for promotions). Ask questions, conduct surveys, and have fun creating content for your email newsletters to keep your audience engaged.

? Create lead generation for your website through landing pages (collecting signups for your email marketing). Provide something of value to your potential customers so they are willing to sign up for your newsletter.

For wineries or food producers, this could be a discount on shipping. For restaurants or caterers, this could be a recipe or an ecookbook for a dish on your menu. Or, if you want to get to know your customers, create a fun quiz on your website that will send them different promotions depending on their answers.

? Incorporate SEO into your website by producing ongoing content creation through a blog. If you work with a local agency that specializes in SEO for the North Bay, you can create a plan to work specific keywords into your content creation so you drive more traffic to your website from people searching the web.

? Engage on customer-review websites. Yup, Yelp is a great place to engage with customers. Focus on making your Google listing as dynamic as possible.

? Dive deeper into digital data. Social media insights, CRMs, and ecommerce tools have a great amount of data on your customers — and maybe small businesses don’t have a dedicated person doing anything with this information to help guide future marketing efforts.

Get up to speed with Google Data Studio or another analytics dashboard system you like. Rose Souders, CEO and founder of Santa Rosa digital marketing agency Potluck Consulting, agrees:

“Take a deeper look at Google Data Studio or another analytics dashboard system you like. You can't make smart decisions or improve your marketing if you don't know what's working and what's not. Tools like these can help you get both a bigger picture view of your marketing AND also help you zoom in on specific goals you're trying to achieve or things you're trying to better understand.”

? Start advertising your hospitality business on Pinterest. This platform is not a social networking site; it is a visual search engine that people visit when they want some inspiration. You can target people looking for recipes, vacation ideas, wines, or even gift items like wine glasses.

? Host more in-depth virtual events. Wineries can entertain their audience through wine tasting events, and restaurants or food producers can sell a kit for people to make at home and host a video call to teach them how to make it. Through Zoom, you can have everyone join the conversation (but as the host, you can and should mute everyone when appropriate), or try paying for the premium feature to host a webinar in which you can have panelists talk and guests listen.

? Take out digital ads on local newspaper websites like the North Bay Business Journal or Sonoma Magazine to get in front of a local audience.

Social media marketing isn’t going anywhere, and brands should still focus on creating connections with their customers and advertisements on these platforms.

But if you are not leveraging other forms of digital marketing, you are missing out on a more well-rounded marketing strategy that can offer greater control. Well, as much as any business can control anything.

What 2020 — and our resilience during fire season — has taught us is that small business owners and marketers should create a second backup plan for their backup plan.