2021 represents a landmark in social media usage as another half a billion join the ranks of social media users worldwide, taking total usage to some 53% of the world’s population, according to Hootsuite.
Social media users worldwide now spend an average of over 2 hours on social media every single day, an increase of 51% from 2012. A substantial percentage of that time is spent browsing products and interacting with businesses.
For businesses, there is no greater audience for your brand. From business awareness and discovery to sales and conversions, social media is a powerful resource that can’t be overlooked.
Securing your small business social media strategy might be one of the best things you do for your business - it’s as simple as that.
How is Social Media Important?
Consider these social media marketing stats:
- 54% of social media users use social media to research products (GWI)
- Social media influences some 71% of buying decisions (Search Engine Watch)
- 90% of Instagram users following a business and 83% use it to discover products and services (Hubspot)
- People are more likely to trust businesses that have a social media presence (Asset Digital)
- 71% of users that have a positive experience with brands on social media are likely to recommend them to family and friends (Oberlo)
- 70% of SMBs use social media to market themselves already (Clutch)
It’s also important to highlight that organic social media marketing is free and therefore has naturally excellent ROI in both time and money. In summary, establishing a social media presence is crucial for modern business.
This introductory social media guide for small businesses will break down the main components of a successful social media strategy.
Small Business Social Media Strategy
Despite the ubiquity of social media, small business marketing on social media does appear as somewhat of a minefield. There are many options ranging from the veterans of Facebook, YouTube and Twitter to the new kids on the block of Instagram, TikTok and even LinkedIn, which has transformed itself in recent years.
Here’s a brief rundown of the main options:
Facebook is the most-used social media platform by a decent margin over YouTube. It’s also the most diverse, both geographically in location and demographically in the wide average age of users. In recent years, Facebook has added a wide variety of business-specific tools whilst making adverts cheaper and more accessible. Setting up a business page on Facebook should be the first-port-of-call for business marketing on social media. All businesses should consider Facebook marketing.
Instagram is an image and video-centric social media platform with a majority under-35s audience, though this is gradually changing. Instagram and Facebook are under the same ownership and thus, there is plenty of synergy between the two. Integrations between Facebook Shops and Instagram enables businesses to sell products directly through social media, essentially turning their business pages into eCommerce stores. Businesses with visual content (e.g. those who sell products) should consider Instagram marketing as essential, but it’s suitable for most businesses, even B2B businesses or those in the services industry.
YouTube is ubiquitous but it isn’t a typical social media platform as it revolves entirely around video. YouTube is a good fit for small businesses that have products to showcase, services to demonstrate or other value to share via video. It takes more work than other social media platforms as you need to create good-quality videos that people will watch, but successful videos can generate serious ongoing traffic.
LinkedIn is the ‘most trusted’ social media platform. It’s aimed more towards B2B and excels at lead generation and business networking. As a marketing platform, LinkedIn is relatively new and likely has some untapped potential for small businesses. It’s the go-to for B2B businesses.
Twitter has a somewhat depreciating reputation, but it still has its uses for businesses. Since Twitter content is so short and simple, it’s quick and easy to produce. Twitter business marketing has become about adopting a witty brand persona, as we can see from some of these Twitter marketing examples.
The GenZ and millennial dominated TikTok is truly modern and probably lies at the cutting edge of social media. To use TikTok effectively, a business does require a strong appeal to young audiences. Businesses that are in tune with younger audiences should definitely try TikTok.
Creating Social Media Accounts
Facebook and Instagram make a solid starting point for most businesses - it’s wise to tackle them first. Creating a Facebook Business account is simple. There are 3 main steps to creating a business page and these will be similar across pretty much all social media platforms.
Your business name and description: Add a business name and fill in the About field carefully, describing the business accurately. Use as much space as possible.
Add a profile and cover photo: The profile photo will likely be the business logo. Check out other similar businesses for inspiration on a cover photo - it should include information about the business rather than being generic.
Call to action: A call to action is a button that takes users to another destination, e.g. a business website or even a WhatsApp contact number. You’ll find this on both Facebook and Instagram.
Posting Social Media Content
Developing a posting strategy is vital to leverage social media. Many will be familiar with creating posts on Facebook - there’s little difference between posting as a business and as an individual. For Instagram, you’ll need to use a photo or video every time you make a post. LinkedIn is similar - businesses can post short statuses with images, pdfs, videos and other media.
Here are some social media posting tips for businesses:
Post regularly and at the right times
The general consensus between marketing experts is that posting once or twice a day is optimal. Of course, if you have any business news or updates then these can supplement the usual posting schedule. Some businesses will find it easier to come up with content ideas than others - research other similar businesses and competitors for ideas. Posting at the right time is also important with social media traffic generally spiking mid-morning and evening on weekdays and later on weekends.
Hashtags are extremely important on pretty much all social media now, but especially Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn. On Instagram, hashtags can circulate your brand to a wide audience without too much effort at all. There are numerous hashtag research tools out there, or look at other similar businesses and competitors for inspiration.
Focus on branding
Create post images using a tool like Canva, adding the business logo and other visual branding. Visual branding is important on social media as social media is a primarily visual medium. Work out a visual theme for the business and stick to it.
Use automation tools
Automation tools like Buffer and Tailwind allow you to schedule social media posts along with images, descriptions and hashtags. This also allows businesses to visualise their social media strategy throughout the month.
Respond to comments
Respond to comments promptly and professionally. If it’s appropriate to do so then message some back directly in their inbox, or ask them to send an email.
Network with others
Facebook groups are an excellent way to network your brand. You can find them for any industry, and there are plenty specifically designed to get new businesses off the ground with a ‘follow for a follow’ and ‘like for a like’. This is a quick win for new businesses but you can’t rely on it in the long term.
Summary: An Introduction to Social Media for Your Business
Some of the best marketing advice for small businesses when it comes to social media is to start slowly with a clear plan. You don’t need to fire off numerous posts to every social media platform under the sun to see some results.
Keep things professional from the outset and focus on visual branding and brand messaging. People will remember your brand for what it looks like, its visual aesthetic and appeal. This should resonate with the business's main audience. Post regularly and don’t give up if the business doesn't attract likes and follows rolling in immediately. Social media marketing is a long game with the potential for quick results.