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The Essentials of Social Media Marketing for Small Business

Using social media marketing is a great way for small businesses to increase their customer base. It’s a  relatively cheap method that has the potential to reach millions of people. Yet despite all these advantages, many business owners don’t know where to start or what to do with social media. This post gives you an overview of the social media marketing basics that every small business should know!

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The benefits of social media for small business

Being a free channel to use

In general, small business owners have limited marketing budgets. Social media is therefore an excellent option for them. The process of setting up profiles is free, and you can start using them right away without spending any money on advertising. Boosting your organic traffic a little would certainly be helpful if it is possible, but it is not something that is necessary.

Building long-lasting relationships with your audience

Share useful, relevant content on social media to increase customer loyalty and engagement. When you do things right, run active communication, and dedicate yourself fully to the cause, you’ll see success in no time. Simply put, this is a great way to build relationships with your audience and turn them into loyal clients.

Getting feedback from your clients is easier

Establishing a social media presence makes it easier to get feedback from your clients. Through direct messages and posts, you can answer their questions or start discussions about topics related to your products/services. By doing so, you are able to provide better support to your customers and improve their overall experience with your business.

Promoting your business in various ways

You can market your small business on so many different social media platforms, and each one offers a unique opportunity. Choose those that work best for you and your target audience, and use them to reach a greater number of people. No worries if you fail on one – there are still plenty of others to choose from.

Serving as a customer support platform

Additionally, social media can be used for customer service. You’ll benefit from this especially if you’re a small business without the resources that go into staffing a customer service team. Answering questions and providing support through your social media profiles, on top of publishing content, will help you build stronger relationships with your customers. This may also help you avoid any potential crisis situations from occurring.

The fundamentals of social media marketing for small businesses: checklist

Now that we’ve covered some of the benefits of social media marketing for small businesses, let’s look at the essentials that you need to know in order to get started.

Step 1: Set up your goals on social media

What do you hope to accomplish through social media? Do you want to generate sales, build a community around your brand, or obtain feedback about how your company can improve? Over time, goals can change, but it’s good to have some to evaluate your performance against from day one.

Step 2: Define your persona

Before you create social media profiles, you need to know what your desired persona is. This means the audience that you want to reach with your marketing efforts. By knowing who they are, you can create content and messaging that resonates with them and attracts them to your business.

Step 3: Identify platforms where you should be active

Having identified your target audience, it’s time to think about the platforms where they spend time online. Which social networks do they use? Do they enjoy certain types of content? Ideally, you should be active on at least one platform where your target audience spends most of their time. This way, you will be able to build relationships with them while also gaining exposure to a wider audience. 

Step 4: Research your competition on social media

To be successful with social media marketing for your business, you also need to understand what your competitors are doing. Look at where they are active, how they interact with potential customers, and what kind of content they publish.

If you do this, you will be able to come up with some ideas about how to leverage their online presence for your own growth. And remember that this shouldn’t be a one-time activity, but something that you should keep an eye on at all times. 

Step 5: Identify your USP

What makes your business unique? Can you offer anything no one else can? This is your unique selling proposition (USP), and it’s something you need to focus on when creating social media content. Be sure to communicate what makes you unique, and highlight your special qualities.

Step 6: Create a social media strategy

The next step is to create a social media strategy based on your understanding of the essentials. Here you will describe how you intend to use social media for your business, and what targets you hope to meet. Be realistic with your expectations and set objectives that can help your small business grow.

Here’s our quick guide on how to embrace a social media strategy.

Step 7: Conduct a quick social media audit

It’s a good idea to take stock of your current social media presence before you start. Where are you active on social media? Are you posting regularly? Are people engaging with your posts? Use this opportunity to reflect on your marketing efforts and take an objective view of how effective they are. A quick audit of your social media profiles will allow you to assess their current state. 

Step 8: Set up profiles

To work on social media, you need to set up accounts on the major social media platforms. Depending on where your audience is active, you can choose from these options:

  • Facebook – works great for the majority of sectors
  • Instagram – may have a great e-commerce impact
  • Pinterest – can be best for beauty and fashion
  • Twitter – helpful for maintaining relationships
  • LinkedIn – used for social selling and personal branding
  • YouTube – especially if you have a lot of educational video content
  • TikTok – more dynamic for younger audiences

Regardless of the platform(s) you choose, it’s important that your profile is accurate, complete, and you upload a quality logo to it. We published an Instagram Profile Laundry List that you can replicate for other platforms as well.  

Step 9: Choose tools that you’ll need/use

You can use a variety of social media tools to improve your marketing efforts. As a small business owner, you should probably draw your attention to tools such as:

  • scheduling tools
  • analytics tools
  • CRM tools
  • graphic and video design tools

Choose the ones that work best for you and use them regularly to make social media marketing as effective as possible. 

Step 10: Evaluate the effectiveness of your social media presence with KPIs

Once you’ve been actively using social media for a while, it’s important to periodically evaluate your efforts. Which goals have you met? Which content resonates with your audience? Track and measure your performance with key performance indicators (KPIs) so that you can continue refining and improving your social media marketing strategy.

After that, you just have to wash, rinse, and repeat.

Best social media practices for small business

We have gathered more than a dozen good practices to help small businesses succeed. Take these tips to heart and you’ll be able to successfully market your small business using social media.

#1 Use social media to generate sales, not just likes

Having a strong social media presence when you’re running a small business is important, but don’t forget that the goal of social media marketing is to generate sales. Use effective calls-to-action in your posts that encourage people to behave as you want them to, plus include links to your website and product pages.

If you want people to follow your social media profiles, you need to give them a good reason to do so. Whatever you do, make sure it’s relevant to your business and that you’re offering something of value in exchange for being with your brand. 

#2 Add hashtags to your posts

Using hashtags will help you get your posts seen by new people. In addition to increasing your chances of being discovered through hashtags, you can also tap into trending topics that are relevant to your business.

Be sure to include keywords in your hashtags so that your posts will be easy to find. You can find some hashtags inspirations that were covered on our blog already. Although you can use up to 30 hashtags, don’t go overboard with them. 

#3 Share some behind-the-scenes photos from your business

This is one way you can make people fall in love with your brand.

People will enjoy getting a peek behind the scenes into your business, so share some photos on social media. They could be of new decorations or offerings, new inventory at your store, or even new employees working there.

While you don’t want these posts to take away from your brand’s story, a few photos can go a long way to creating a connection with customers.

#4 Juggle with different types of content

Though not every type of content may be appropriate for your business, it’s worth having a variety of posts to hand. Your audience will be more likely to follow you regularly if you keep things interesting for them.

It’s important to keep your audience interested with a mix of posts, but you should also take some time to verify which content performs best and replicate that pattern in future posts.

As a result of studying the historical posts that have been most successful with your target audience, you will be able to produce more of the type of content that works for your small business on social media.

It may take some time to figure out which forms engage people with your content, but once you do, creating more of it will be a breeze. 

#5 Engage with your audience

Rather than just broadcasting content to your audience, you should actively engage with them. Nevertheless, many business owners ignore this rule and stick to posting only.

Answer comments and questions from people, and show that you’re listening to what they have to say. Besides building trust, loyalty, and engagement loops with your audience, this can also help you identify business problems or opportunities.

#6 Organize contests and giveaways

Engage your audience and get them excited about your brand with contests and giveaways.

Run contests on social media to collect valuable data from participants, such as their contact information and preferences. By having people share your contest with their friends, you can also increase awareness of your brand.

It goes without saying that this will also be reflected in e.g. new followers, engagement rates, and reach among your target group.

#7 Identify the best time to post on social media

One thing you might not know about social media is that you should post at certain times during the day to maximize your reach. 

There are many reports and studies about when the best time to post on social media is. We even discussed it in one of our recent posts on optimal social media posting times.

However, just as with the type of content, you also need to experiment here. Observe how your posts perform on different days and at different times, and try to stick with the most successful setup in order to capitalize on it. 

#8 Take advantage of special occasions and real-time marketing

Respond to current events as they unfold by posting on social media about them.

Real-time marketing gives you the opportunity to connect with your audience on a more personal level and demonstrate your knowledge of current events. It’s a great way to engage people who are interested in what’s going on, and it can also increase traffic to your social media profiles.

There are some special days and thematic months when you can jump on the bandwagon and post something special on your social media profiles:

#9 Always put quality over quantity

You need to post high-quality content if you want to grab people’s attention.

You should always post relevant and engaging content on social media. No one will read anything that’s not interesting or useful.

Content marketing for social media should always prioritize quality over quantity. It is better to publish every third day with a piece of content that makes a difference rather than posting daily just for the sake of it.

#10 Be consistent and persistent

Consistency and persistence are the keys to social media success. Follow a specific pattern to familiarize people with your social media presence. Your posts should be easily identifiable as those of your brand.

Here is an example of some aesthetically pleasing colours and compositions from Bardouro:

It’s important that you constantly post new content, engage with other people in your industry, and follow up on leads. 

This will help you to build a strong audience over time, so keep at it. Combining these factors will help you improve your social media presence, learn, and grow.

#11 Use social media monitoring for extra coverage

You should also monitor social media to make sure that your business is staying on top of things.

Monitoring social media will allow you to track conversations about your brand online and identify any issues with customer service or negative comments from other people in your industry. It enables you to resolve complaints quickly and turn them into positive experiences.

There are various tools you can use for this purpose, but to get a grasp on it you can first try Google Trends and Google Alerts. 

In addition to knowing what’s happening with your brand, you can use social media monitoring to look at what your competitors are doing and get inspired. 

#12 Collaborate with microinfluencers

Microinfluencers have smaller audiences than other types of influencers, but they can still drive engagement.

They tend to be more relatable and have stronger relationships with their followers, making them a great choice for promoting your brand on social media. Another important point for small businesses is that involving them in marketing may either be completely free or still affordable if not.

As well as spreading the word about your business, they can also offer valuable insights and provide useful feedback.

Follow influencers in your industry that are active on various social media platforms, even if you don’t intend to work with them. This is a great way to get ideas for new content. 

#13 Abide by the LATTE rule on social media

You should always be polite on social media, even if someone says something mean. Negativity online will only reflect poorly on your brand.

In response to a negative comment, simply reply with something positive rather than getting into an argument.

Use the LATTE rule: Listen to what they have to say, Apologize by explaining that you’re sorry for their bad experience or issue, Thank them for telling you about it so you can make things better in the future, Take action, and Explain the next steps. 

This will help to diffuse any troublesome situation and keep things polite. You might be tempted to be carried away by bad experiences, but remember that even one word too many can do a lot of harm to your brand.

Acknowledging your mistakes can even help you turn detractors into supporters:

#14 Make the most of social proof

Small business owners often assume that if their product or service is great, it will sell itself. The only problem with this idea is that most products and services don’t.

Nowadays, when we are bombarded with ads all the time, products and services need lots of promotion. This is where social proof – i.e. reviews, comparisons, and comments – comes into play.

It may not be on your priority list for advertising campaigns at the moment, but it should certainly become more important to you in the near future. That’s because it is an effective way to promote your brand.

If you have any social proof you could use in your communication, don’t hesitate to share it with your audience to build credibility with them.

#15 Take a look at what others are doing

Engage with other companies in the same industry on social media to build your network and learn from them.

In addition to learning what works well for them, this can also lead to partnerships and collaborations. Engaging on social media and connecting with other businesses will help you increase your network and reach more people.

Your cafe could, for example, offer customers some vouchers to use for a dessert at a nearby restaurant. In return, that restaurant could include a voucher for a free morning coffee at your place on their clients’ checks.

Social media marketing for small business doesn’t have to be difficult

Now that we’ve covered a lot of ground, let’s tie it all together with the essentials that you need to know before getting started with social media marketing for your business. You need to create a strategy and stick to it in order to be successful with social media marketing for small businesses. While our tips will give you a good foundation to begin, it is important to tailor your approach to the situation.

Social media marketing can help small businesses grow their customer bases and increase sales, but only if they know how to use it effectively.

Don’t worry if you feel overwhelmed – it is natural to feel that way at first. Take it one step at a time and be patient. The results will take a while to become visible, but if you stick to your plan and put in the work then you’ll be on your way to having a successful social media presence.

Good luck!

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Kinga Edwards

Kinga Edwards

Owner & Creative Director at Brainy Bees. She believes that insights are everywhere!
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