When you read a list of social media strategies, most account for huge followings and plenty of momentum.
But what about small businesses that are starting from scratch?
Small businesses that are just getting started need social strategies tailored specifically for them. Those strategies should be focused on building momentum and growth, in addition to simply engaging the audience you already have.
As you get your small business up and running with social media, there are a number of effective strategies that you can use to build your platforms and your reach. Let’s take a look at what you need to keep in mind when using social media for small businesses, and 9 effective strategies you can use.
4 Social Media for Small Business Considerations to Keep in Mind
As you build out social media marketing for small businesses, there are a few important considerations to keep in mind. Building a social media plan takes careful strategy and planning, so let’s take a look at what you should keep in mind when you’re getting started.
1. High Engagement Through Consistency
With consistent posting, you’ll likely build high engagement. In fact, your engagement rate will probably be higher than large competitors.
Engagement rate is key, and it’s common for brands with smaller accounts to have smaller but more engaged followings than larger accounts because having 50 enthusiastic followers out of 200 is significant compared to 200 loyal followers out of 20,000.
If your engagement rates are on the low side, that’s a red flag that something needs to be changed.
Don’t be afraid to make adjustments. Always circle back to your analytics to see how your posts are performing, which content your audience is most responsive to, and what you should be duplicating moving forward. This information will give you valuable insights to help you replicate posting strategies that perform well for your brand.
2. Start Small, Then Work Your Way Up
When starting with social media for small businesses, it’s best to start with a few platforms that you can engage with quickly.
3. Scrap Platforms That Don’t Work For You
Don’t be afraid to stop using social media platforms that don’t serve your client’s business. If you find yourself investing time and energy into posting content on a platform that just isn’t resonating with your audience, it’s okay to drop it from your strategy.
You don’t have to have a presence on every social platform in order for a business to thrive. In fact, many multi-platform businesses owners report that their brands perform exceptionally well on some platforms and not so much on others.
Instead of trying to manage every platform out there and struggling to engage with each, keep your initial scope of work small. Eventually, you’ll work your way up to having a presence on more platforms.
Pick a few high-value platforms where you know your audience is active and start there. Get used to posting regularly, and then scale up as you can.
The sunk cost fallacy is a real thing that can bring businesses down, and you don’t want it to tank your social media strategy, especially since small businesses often have limited resources.
4. Invest in Automation and Engagement Management Tools
Investing in automation and engagement management tools to help you keep up with publishing and engagement will be key.
Sine, as we already mentioned, small businesses typically have limited resources, that often extends to their social strategy. This means you might not have extra team members available to manage social media marketing for you.
Depending on your needs, there are many tools available for every budget. For example, tools such as Agorapulse and Hootsuite are excellent for social media publishing and engagement. Snappa (pictured below) and Canva are good for pushing out graphic design, and both have free options.
9 Social Media for Small Business Strategies
Ready to put your social media platforms to work for your small business? Here are 9 effective social media marketing for small business strategies you can apply to your marketing plan, starting now.
1. Partner Up With Relevant Businesses
One of the best ways to gain attention early on is to partner up with relevant businesses for events or special promotions.
After posting regularly for at least a few weeks and getting some decent content on the business’s Page, see if there are collaboration opportunities open to you with other businesses in (or peripheral to) your space.
For example, businesses can partner with one another to:
- Cross-promote products and services that go well hand-in-hand with yours
- Create content together and share it via each other’s social media platforms
- Host a pop-up event, either at one of your brick-and-mortar locations or online
- Stage a brand takeover of one another’s social media feeds
- Appear on an Instagram or Facebook live stream together
Leveraging social media marketing for small businesses while partnering with other brands will be mutually beneficial to both you and your partners.
2. Host a Contest
Contests are an effective way to grow your brand via social media. Not only are they great for re-engaging your current followers, they also help draw in new followers. You can host regular giveaways to give your brand a boost from time to time.
Choose high-value prizes that will appear to your target audience when you host a giveaway. You’ll want to make sure the prizes are of good quality and in demand among the people who follow you.
Once you’ve decided on a prize, use contest-focused hashtags to give your post extra reach. You can also boost the contest for initial traction.
3. Blast Your Email List
If you’re a truly brand-new brand then you likely don’t have an email list up and running just yet. But if you’re only a new-to-social brand, then you should leverage every aspect of your online presence that you can.
That includes your email list.
When you’re starting new social profiles, send out an email to your subscribers right away. Link to your profiles and encourage them to follow you.
To increase the likelihood that they’ll actually do this, let them know what’s in it for them. Maybe this is behind-the-scenes looks at how your products are made, or insider-scoops and tips from your industry experts. You can even offer incentives like discount codes, asking users to follow you and then DM your brand to receive said code.
Your email list is a valuable asset to your business… why not leverage it to grow your social following, too?
4. Host a Facebook Event
Facebook Events are a great way to get more attention for your small business.
They can help you attract new followers, engage your existing audience, and promote specific events that can help move your business forward.
There are plenty of options here.
You can use Facebook Events to promote grand openings (or re-openings) for a brick-and-mortar store or an online launch. You can host a livestream event (even on Facebook!), or promote an in-store pop-up event.
There’s even the option to use events to promote contests or challenges, even if users aren’t competing against each other but are just involved around a brand challenge.
Keep in mind that when your event is listed as public, if someone says that they’re “going” or “interested,” their friends on the platform will see this. This is a huge vote of confidence and an easy way to capture interest from their entire existing network.
Here’s a great example. Mike Straus is growing his online brand as a freelance writer, and they hosted a 100 pitch challenge for the month of June. They held a live stream event to promote and kick off the challenge with tips from experts to help. It attracted a ton of attention and engagement, and helped his Group gain new members.
5. Be Proactive About Following Relevant Accounts
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Your brand does not exist in a vacuum. If social media was a video game, we’re long past the days of single-player games and well intro the multi-player universe.
Because of this, it’s essential to give as much as you take, and taking the time to be proactive about finding and following relevant accounts will be important.
Find accounts that can benefit your business and that will be interested in yours. This may include micro-influencers, other businesses, or industry experts. In some cases, they may follow back if they like your content, too.
This is a positive and natural way to start to grow your platform from all angles.
That said, never, ever purchase followers. Follow trains and follow-for-follow schemes don’t work. Even if they temporarily appear to boost your number of followers, your engagement will actually go down. In the long run, that will hurt a business’s presence on social media.
And those #likeforlike hashtags you see in posts? Users hate that. They see that and assume that your follower count is inflated (and it very well could be) and that people are only following your account for their own follows and not because they like the content. It’s not the impression you want to give.
6. Engage in New & Trending Features
When you engage with new and trending features on social media, you potentially boost your own organic reach. For example, getting on TikTok or making Instagram Reels can really help you take off. Being an early adopter of new tools as they roll out can help give you a competitive edge.
Think TikTok as a platform; early adopters were able to build audiences faster because there was less competition before everyone else jumped on board.
Instagram Stories, Facebook Events, Facebook Groups, Twitter Livestreaming, and Instagram Reels were all new and original features once. When you’re doing something new and different, users will pay attention, and it can make a huge difference to help you get ahead of the curve.
7. Share High-Value Resources
We all love a cute dog picture or a food selfie, but some content is actually valuable to us on social media. I’ve got a long list of saved social media posts, for example, that go over everything from how to peel a mango to how to negotiate a new car purchase.
These are high-value resources, and small businesses should be making an effort to create and share them on social media. It shows that you’re knowledgeable and trustworthy, and these posts are likely to get a ton of shares.
You can share a link on Twitter or Facebook, but on-platform resources often perform best. Think multi-image posts on Instagram that have a helpful tip on each slide, or a large infographic on Pinterest.
If you’re not able to create your own for any reason or you want to increase the number of resources you’re sharing, you can always share content from other creators — just make sure to credit them appropriately.
8. Feature Customers On Your Feed
User-generated content (UGC) is one of the most trusted types of media you can possibly use on social, and while it may be harder for small brands to come by, it’s definitely not impossible.
Reach out to enthusiastic customers that you already have and let them know that if they tag you in a post they have a chance to be featured. You can also post on your profiles encouraging specific types of UGC (like “show us your first bite!” or “snap unboxing photos!”) and encourage users to tag you.
Once you have UGC, share the pictures regularly. People love seeing other customers and content created by them; it builds trust, it generates shares, and it can garner a ton of attention. And in the meantime, while you’re waiting for UGC, take advantage of employee-generated content (EGC), too; people love getting to know everyone on your team and to see that they’re valued.
9. Use Paid Ads to Expand Your Reach
This isn’t an organic strategy… but that doesn’t mean that you should count it out.
Most major social media platforms offer self-serve paid ads that are exceptionally accessible and even affordable for small businesses. If you only have $10 to throw at a Facebook Ad to gain more followers, then that can still make a dent.
Paid ads expand your reach and can help you connect to more audience members. Start slow, ideally promoting existing posts to leverage any early social proof and momentum that you already have to appeal to new audiences, and start with a content-driven approach. This can help you build your following while you’re building traction early on.
Social media marketing for small business is all about choosing strategies that work for your clients’ business (or your business!). All of the strategies that we’ve discussed here are reliable and effective when implemented over time, even if you’re just starting out and have a follower list you can count on two hands.
Remember that patience is key here; social media followings don’t just happen overnight (and if they do, they’re likely fake), but with persistence and effort it can be an invaluable tool to grow your brand long-term.
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