6 Best Social Media Marketing Tips for Small Businesses

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For over a decade, social media has been changing the way we communicate. The question small business owners ask is no longer, “Should I use social media to promote my business?” but rather, “How should I use social media to promote my business?”

As a small business owner, your time is a valuable and finite commodity. You don’t have the time or resources to spend all day navigating a dozen social media platforms (or to hire a social media specialist to do it for you).

6 social media marketing tips for small businesses

Understanding these limitations, I spoke with marketing experts, social media specialists, and small business owners and asked them about the goals they set and the strategies they use to plan their social media presence.

Their advice is clear: When you invest in strategic social media marketing, your small business will see increased traffic, better brand awareness, and healthier customer satisfaction.

1. Schedule beyond the 9-to-5

You know that time is a precious commodity at a small business. One of the most effective ways to save time is to schedule your social media content.

I asked Christina Hager, head of social media strategy and distribution at Overflow Storytelling Lab, how she approaches the task of scheduling social media activities.

Christina Hager

Social Media Strategy and Distribution, Overflow Storytelling Lab

“Once you’ve developed your strategy and you know your campaigns, you can create your content early. This way, you will be able to see where everything goes.”

What do you do with all this content you’ve created? Hager gave me three excellent suggestions:

Create an editorial calendar to track what you post

An editorial calendar will help you keep track of original and curated content in one place. It also allows for easy updating and collaboration, which is key if you share social media responsibilities across your team.

Hire an intern or marketing student to do your posting

Spend your time and money to develop a strategy, then hire someone with great enthusiasm for social media to do the posting, create extra content, etc.

Use a scheduling tool

Hager always uses Hootsuite to schedule posts and advises her clients to do the same. “It is a huge timesaver,” she explains. “You can block out time and get your entire week (or month) done.”

Pro Tip: If you schedule your social media ahead of time, keep an eye on current events. In the wake of a natural disaster or another catastrophe, allowing previously scheduled content to go through before acknowledging the event could come across as insensitive.

2. Customize for your target audience

An engaging social media presence isn’t just about how often you post. As Hager points out, what you post is just as important.

Without a strategy and a specific audience to target, your social media efforts will be spread too thin across a sea of content.

“Instead” Hager says, “focus in on your target audience, and build up a social media presence that seeks them out and speaks their language. Find out where your target demographic is, and then utilize social media data; check out reports by Hootsuite to find out which platform they are most active on.”

If your small business sells handmade baby clothes, your energy is best spent sharing information and tips that build value and trust with new, busy moms. Or, if you are trying to market gear for adventurous travelers, think about that personality and demographic and make your content, copy, and images speak to them.

Pro tip: Be sure to utilize the excellent detail targeting capabilities Facebook offers. You can target specific behaviors or interests, even down to individual job titles.

3. Cut through the social media noise

Once you’ve identified your target audience, how do you cut through all the social media noise and catch the eye of a potential customer?

Facebook had 2.23 billion monthly active users as of the second quarter of 2018—how can one small business ever hope to break through that kind of traffic and find their potential customers?

I spoke with Dean DeCarlo, president of Mission Disrupt, an advertising/marketing company that drives growth for brands using digital channels. To DeCarlo, what makes a social media strategy stand out in the crowd is authentic content.

“Companies that blast out product information and even promotions will more than likely see lackluster engagement and reach” says DeCarlo.

Dean DeCarlo

President of Mission Disrupt

“[Companies] should focus on coming up with original content centered around the community they represent.”

Specifically, DeCarlo says they have great success at Mission Disrupt when they create original video content. They produce weekly videos on marketing tips as well as how-tos for marketers, which gives them a platform to spread thought leadership and best practices.

Pro tip: As a small business, you have the advantage of a close, direct relationship with your customers. Use Facebook Live video and Instagram Stories to provide updates and communicate with your customers and community.

4. Leverage your community

The key to ensuring that your content has reach and engagement, DeCarlo notes above, is a focus on community.

Whether that community is geographic or topical, if a business is not first and foremost focused on the community surrounding them, they are missing a key opportunity to positively influence how a potential customer perceives their product or service.

DeCarlo points to the auto industry as an example—let’s say you are the CEO of a local car dealership. “Instead of posting about promotions or photos from around the office, I would instead decide to dedicate my account to showing off exciting, luxury cars.”

This entices both the topical community of devout car enthusiasts, and the rest of us who can at least appreciate a photo of a sleek Porsche.

If you’re a brick-and-mortar retail boutique, you can leverage your community geographically. Try engaging on profiles using your city’s location tag to get people aware of your presence in their city.

Pro tip: Respond to comments rapidly and create stories that get people excited to participate. Leverage local events and topics trending within your community.

5. Measure what you can act on

With these solid methodologies in place, the last question to ask is this: Did it work? How can you track and measure the effectiveness of your social media activity?

Nathalie Couet, communications, marketing, and partnerships manager at Dashthis.com, says it’s important to learn how to separate vanity metrics from metrics you can act on. A stat that looks good but is not actionable (such as number of likes on a post), is a vanity metric.

Nathalie Couet

Communications, Marketing, and Partnerships Manager, Dashthis.com

“On each social media network, I measure things like engagement (how much people are interacting with my content, shares, retweets, etc.), as well as number of followers.”

Remember the important difference between followers/subscribers, and likes on a specific post: The former indicates that individuals are knowingly asking for more of your content in their lives.

It’s also important to give yourself goals and benchmarks.

“Just saying I want to increase my followers neither holds you accountable, ” explains Couet, “nor does it give you specific methods with which to reach that goal. Instead, say something like: ‘I want to double my number of followers in the next 12 months, which I will do by posting content twice a month, boosting one post per month to my target audience, thus increasing followers X% each month.'”

This gives you something concrete to hold onto and allows you to see if you’re going in the right direction, or if your goals and methods need adjusting.

Pro tip: Social media marketing software can help you take your analytics to the next level. Check out Capterra’s Top 20 Report for all the information you need on the best social media marketing software.

6. Delight your customer to ensure they come back

As your social media presence grows, it will present you with opportunities to interact with your customers directly. Take this chance to delight your customer with personal attention and responsiveness.

Zach Hendrix, co-founder of GreenPal, told me about the innovative way he focuses on customer delight on social media.

Zach Hendrix

Co-founder of GreenPal

“We recently decided to tackle the challenge of how do we inject some personality into our social media marketing campaigns to evoke a personal connection with our customer.”

After brainstorming, they came up with an idea that would allow them to leave a lasting and delightful impression on their customers.

They did it through pets.

“When a homeowner signs up for our service,” explains Hendrix, “we ask them if there are pets in the home so our lawn vendors know to be careful when entering the lawn.”

Zach and his team at GreenPal decided this was a golden opportunity to wow their customers, and decided to send a personalized gift to their customers’ pet, addressed specifically to the animal.

“This really wowed our customers” says Hendrix. “We received personal thank-you notes, videos of their dog chewing the bone we sent posted to Facebook, and thank you tweets. It worked really well for the time and money we invested.”

Pro tip: A delighted customer is your best ambassador in the social media sphere. When you receive glowing feedback from a client, ask them to share their experience publicly on Yelp, Google Reviews, or even directly on your website.

The original author of this piece was Dylan Echter; it was updated by Samantha Bonanno on 10/10/2018.

Looking for Social Media Monitoring software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Social Media Monitoring software solutions.

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About the Author

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Samantha Bonanno

Sam covers Buyer Marketing at Capterra, offering insights and thought leadership on marketing trends and best practices for small and midsize businesses. An Upstate New York native, Sam spends her free time backpacking with her dogs and holding snobby opinions on craft beer and single origin coffee.

Comments

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Thanks, Samantha!!

In my opinion, here are several of the most important things when implementing social media marketing are:

1.Content

Without a strong content marketing game, it’s impossible to be heard in this saturated social media world. This is a very broad subject, but the most important thing is to aim to be the expert/thought leader of your niche instead of just informing your audience about your brand/product/service—or worse, promoting your products all the time—.

2. Targeting

Especially important if you are running paid social media advertising. If you are not targeting the right audience, your social media presence simply won’t grow.

3. Utilizing Influencers

With all the noise and saturation, influencers are more important than ever. If you can get the right influencers to work with you, it will be a major boost to your social media presence.

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Interesting post to read. Social media is one of the most powerful and important platforms for marketing in today’s times and this article gives exactly that information that I want to read about Social Media marketing for a long time.

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Marketing involves so much strategy. This has some great tips.

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Useful tips! However, most companies can’t be everywhere at once, especially small businesses with tight marketing budgets. That’s why it’s vital for businesses to be strategic about which social media platforms they work to build a presence on.

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I loved this article. Social media marketing can be really difficult to figure out and this breaks it down to make it manageable!

I hope you don’t mind me plugging this, but I recently did a podcast episode on DIY social media marketing, and I thought you and your audience might be interested or find some additional information on it. Check it out here: http://trafficandleadspodcast.com/diy-social-media-marketing

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Thanks a lot Dylan. You helped me a lot. I’ll start my own company in a couple of months and i now nothing about marketing ( i’m a programmer). Well now i’m kinda armed to speak to investors. Thank you.

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Hey Dylan,
Thanks for the useful insights! These are wonderful social media marketing tips. If you consider marketing alone, then not only social media but also complete web marketing strategies will be necessary for small businesses.
Take a look at these web marketing strategies – https://www.izmoweb.com/article/web-marketing-for-small-businesses-four-steps-to-succeed-449-en-us.htm

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Great tips! This might be worth adding to the list? It’s a guide to social media that explores some the basics of social media with a dash of marketing thrown into the mix.

https://appinstitute.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/Social-Media-Guide.pdf

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Hello Dylan,

These are really great tips! I’m particularly interested in remarketing on social media. I think it will be an effective form of advertisement as the people viewing the products would be warm leads. I will definitely read the guide you provided, thanks!

Thanks

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[…] may end up coming down to how you market yourself on social media. Terri Murphy recently shared a blog, which discussed social media marketing tips for small businesses (or your […]

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Thanks for including us in your list, Dylan!

This is a great set of tips.

I especially like:
– Images are key
– Don’t get swayed by vanity metrics

Thanks again!
Will

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