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eventy-two percent of American adults use some form of social media. That's a lot of eyeballs. With this in mind, it's hard to ignore the fact that social media marketing is a powerful tool for businesses.
Social media is an ever-evolving space, but don't be overwhelmed. It's a great place to experiment, build community, and figure out ways to connect with potential customers.
With so many platforms to choose from and content formats to try, it can feel daunting to begin. In this article, we'll help you:
- Determine how to set realistic goals
- Choose the right platforms for your business
- Figure out what type of content to publish
After covering those fundamentals, we'll dive into our top 7 tips for social media marketing for small businesses.
Set goals and objectives
Before diving in, figure out your specific goals and objectives. What do you want to get out of social media? Maybe your goal is to raise awareness around an upcoming sale or to get the word out about a new product release. Whatever it is, knowing what you hope to get out of social media will help you figure out how to use it.
Social media KPIs
Knowing common social media key performance indicators (or KPIs) is important. KPI monitoring and analysis will help you set realistic goals and understand if your social strategy is working.
Here are some common KPIs to be on top of:
- Impressions: The number of times an individual sees your post.
- Engagements: The number of times an individual interacts with your content, including likes, favorites, shares, retweets, clicks, replies, follows, and pageviews.
- Engagement rates: The number of engagements divided by the number of impressions. This metric helps you determine whether your audience is engaging with your content and adapt your content strategy as needed.
- Visits: The number of times someone visits your page.
- Mentions: The number of people mentioning or talking about your brand. Monitoring mentions keeps you aware of customers who are speaking positively about your brand and customers who have negative feedback.
- Followers: The number of people who follow your account.
Tips for setting realistic and measurable goals
Many business owners make the mistake of expecting 10,000 new followers within a few months. That could happen, but it's important to be realistic about your goals. Here are our tips for goal setting:
- Evaluate your current efforts. For small businesses already using social media, it's a good idea to review your efforts so far to see what's working and what's not. Now is a great time to audit your profiles and current strategy to see what you can optimize. If you're already growing quickly on Facebook, for example, it would be a good idea to set growth goals for that specific channel.
- Look at competitors to see what's possible. Seeing how others in your industry use social media is helpful for research purposes. What's their strategy? What types of content are they creating that get high engagement? What isn't getting much engagement? It's fine to get inspiration here, but don't copy them or expect the exact same results. After all, your business is unique, and standing out will help you create a great brand. There's only one of you!
- Focus on one area before trying a million things. Your goal is to get 10,000 Instagram followers, go viral on Tiktok, and get 3,000 newsletter sign-ups by the end of the year? Chances are, even if you have a full-time social media manager, that's a lot to ask! Focusing on one or two platforms is best to hone in on your goals. (We'll cover the different platforms below.)
Choose the right social media platforms for your business
It seems like every few years, there is a new social media app on the block. In 2011, it was all about Facebook. In 2017, everyone was talking about Instagram. And by 2022, TikTok was the fastest-growing app! Determining which platform is right for your business can be a challenge, but we break the benefits of each channel down below.
Certain platforms will work better for each individual business. Demographic information like age, gender, location, income, and interests will help you decide which app to invest time and energy in. Here are our tips for choosing the most appropriate platforms for your target audience.
Know your customer demographics
Customer demographics should be top of mind when defining your social media strategy. Customer demographics include age, location, gender, and marital status. These key indicators matter when it comes to social media, as each platform skews a little differently. For instance, Facebook skews older than Tiktok does.
Choose the right platform for your business
Each platform works in different ways. Knowing your business goals and the platform's main uses (for example, photo vs. video) will help you decide which platform to invest in. For instance, if you are a wedding photographer looking to get started on social media, it's probably best to focus on image-heavy platforms like Instagram or Pinterest.
Review your resources
Social media is a time-intensive branch of marketing. To grow consistently on apps like Youtube, it's recommended to post 2x a week. If you can't keep up with this sort of rhythm, consider a different platform that requires less content production, like Twitter.
Here are the benefits and key items to consider for the US's top platforms:
- Facebook is the world's largest social media platform.
- It's a popular platform for brands to advertise on, as 54.9% of users use it to follow or research brands and products, and they click on an average of 12 Facebook ads every month.
TIPS FOR USE
- Set up a company page for your small business.
- Display a short bio about your business, contact information, and store hours if you have a brick and mortar.
- Link to your company's website to redirect traffic.
- Engage with customers that like or DM your business page.
- Try running advertising campaigns on Facebook.
- Instagram is a photo- and video-sharing service and is the most downloaded app in the world.
- It's an app for everyone but skews younger. 70% of users are under 34 years old.
- Instagram is where creators and influencers reign supreme. 80% of people make a purchase after an influencer recommends a product.
- It's got an active consumer base, with 130 million users tapping on shopping posts each month.
- Retail businesses do well on Instagram!
TIPS FOR USE
- Share entertaining content with your customers through photos, videos, or stories. Instagram Reels (short-form videos within Instagram) get 22% more interaction than a standard post, and Reels is predicted to soon be the main way people share content on Instagram.
- Keep it real. Content that gets personal, has a human touch, or shares behind-the-scenes clips perform better than sterile posts, which can come off as robotic.
- Interact with your followers. Community engagement is a key part of building a solid social presence!
- If you're an e-commerce brand, try using Instagram's shopping features.
- TikTok is a video app where you can film and create videos all in one place.
- It skews younger and is known as an app for Gen-Z, but all ages flock to it for its fun, creative, and informative videos.
- It has a very diverse landscape -- there are different subsections on the platform like ‚ÄúBookTok‚Äù (for readers), ‚ÄúSkinTok‚Äù (for skincare lovers), and FitTok (for fitness lovers).
- It skews female, as 60% of TikTok users are women.
- TikTok, like Instagram, is great for retail businesses.
TIPS FOR USE
- If you don't feel comfortable being on camera, participate by doing voiceover videos, hiring content creators, or using your hands/not showing your face.
- Follow and participate in trends to up your chances of going viral.
- Leverage TikTok search engine optimization (SEO) strategies to ensure your videos come up in TikTok's search results!
- Twitter is a microblogging platform where users can send tweets, using up to 280 characters in a tweet.
- Great for US-based businesses, as the US has the most active Twitter users.
- If your product or service skews young and male, Twitter is your place! Most Twitter users belong to the 25-34 age group and skew male, unlike Instagram, which skews female.
- It's a great place to promote your business! 30% of Twitter users want to see brands use it more.
- It's a great place to discover hot topics and stay on top of current events.
TIPS FOR USE
- Share tweets, GIFS, photos, or videos.
- Add a bio that contains a short description of your business.
- DM with and reply to customers who tag you.
- Start a discussion or get involved in a discussion already happening via a thread.
- Search topics relating to your small business in the search bar and see what people are talking about to get involved.
- Pinterest is a visual photo pinning platform where people can ‚Äúpin‚Äù images to their mood boards.
- Pinterest has many users: It's the 4th most popular social media site in the US.
- Its demographic is female users who make an above-average income.
- Advertisers on Pinterest earn a 2x higher return on ad spend with a cheaper conversion cost compared to other social media platforms.
- Pinterest is great for design businesses and recipe bloggers.
TIPS FOR USE
- Branded searches on this platform are rare, as 97% of searches are unbranded.
- Upload aesthetically pleasing photos of your product to increase your chances of getting pinned.
- Hire a photographer or content creator to take the photos if you don't feel you're up to the challenge.
- Snapchat is a popular video- and photo-sharing platform ‚Äì there are 5 billion snaps sent a day!
- It skews young, with folks aged 15-25 making up 48% of users.
- Ads perform the best when they feature sound.
TIPS FOR USE
- Hire a designer to create a branded ‚Äúfilter‚Äù that customers can use in their snaps.
- If you've got an audience on another platform, consistently link to Snapchat to direct traffic and boost your follower count.
- Send followers promos, product reveals, or other fun, behind-the-scenes-type content.
- LinkedIn is a professional network social media platform.
- If your key demographic is male, LinkedIn is your place! 57% of its users are men.
- It's primarily used for business connections. 60% of users are between 25 and 34, the peak period when people are growing their careers.
- It's a great platform for advertising B2B products and recruiting talent.
TIPS FOR USE
- Create a business page for your company so employees can tag you when they fill out where they work.
- Post updates from your business page, like employees of the month, office parties, milestones, and fun facts about your business! Ask your employees to engage in boosting the visibility of your posts.
- Build your personal brand: create longer-form, thought leadership content to boost your own visibility and, as a likely byproduct, the visibility of your business.
- Youtube is a video-sharing platform and is the 2nd most popular search engine after Google.
- It's got a huge network of 2.6 billion active users (as of 2023).
- The app skews male, with 53.9% of YouTube users being male.
TIPS FOR USE
- Make instructional videos to promote your brand. They could be videos on how to use your product or on topics your users are interested in!
- Make a branded intro that includes your logo for all of your videos.
- Consider collaborating with influencers to boost your reach and brand awareness.
Figure out what type of content your target audience wants to see
As you can tell from above, there is a wide variety of social media platforms for different types of content, users, brands, and formats. Figuring out what type of content your customer wants to see is a very important step in concretizing your social media strategy. Is your target audience mostly young and into videos? Then you may want to try TikTok. Is your target audience older? Then Facebook may be right for you.
There are so many different types of content to experiment with: live videos, polls, photos or videos of your products, and teasing new drops are just a few places to start. Here's a quick breakdown of the main types of social formats:
- Video - Video content can be shot on a smartphone and is great for Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube. Shoot TikTok and Instagram videos in portrait, and opt for landscape for YouTube videos.
- GIF - GIFs are a file format that supports both static and animated images. They have no sound but are attention-grabbing and serve as great supplements to written content.
- Photo - Most smartphones have great cameras that are excellent for social, so there is no need to invest in a crazy expensive camera! Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Instagram all support photos.
- Written posts - LinkedIn and Twitter are great if you want to share digestible written content.
What kind of content your audience wants to see may take some experimenting, but everyone has to start somewhere. If you sell a food product, why not share videos of you cooking it? If you sell art, why not share a special video of you making it? If you're strapped for time, fret not. You don't need to spend hours creating content. If your customers are already posting photos of your product or writing rave reviews, why not ask them if you can repost it?
Still stumped on what to post? We recommend checking out what your competitors are posting. Auditing customer content can give you a good idea of where to start.
Before deciding that you are going to post ten times a day, we recommend slowing down and focusing on quality over quantity. It may be tempting to post a lot of content to gain traction, but quality is the best indicator of a business becoming successful online.
Here are a few small business social media success stories to get you inspired:
- The small team of 3 at Los Angeles-based deli Ggiata grew their TikTok following to 22K using TikTok's trending sounds and participating in various trends. They also use it to promote events and debut new sandwiches. Eventually, they hired a full-time TikTok manager. They cite TikTok as their strongest marketing tool, as nearly every customer has discovered them via the app.
- The Los Angeles Public Library uses LinkedIn to share funny videos of their librarians in sweet, shareable moments. Their videos perform well, with over 100 likes and multiple comments on each one.
- Maine-based small business printmaker Addie Best utilizes Instagram to connect with her 56K audience. During the day, she shares videos and photos of her printmaking process through Instagram stories. She also makes beautiful Reels and takes photos of her studio and home in Maine, keeping her audience engaged and letting customers feel like they know her.
It's important that you stay true to your brand. Just because it works for a competitor doesn't mean it will necessarily work for you! Another way to stay authentic is to keep your push notifications on. If a customer asks a question, you want to be ready with an answer quickly. This will help the customer feel like there's a real human on the other side, which there is!
If you get some negative feedback on your page, keep in mind the 3 H's: humor, honesty, and helpfulness. Try to stay calm and don't fight fire with fire.
Interact with your customers - use polls, conduct Q+A's, go live and ask them for their opinion. Check out our complete guide for promoting brand authenticity on social media.
Social media marketing tips for small businesses
Now that you've set your goals and objectives, picked your platform, and determined what your audience wants to see, here's how to put your social media marketing plan into action.
1. Create a content calendar and schedule content in advance
A social media content calendar is a great way to stay organized, complete your goals and stay on track. It's easy to let social media posting fall by the wayside, and planning your month at a glance is a great way to stay accountable.
What to include in your content calendar
In the content calendar, make sure you include what you're posting as well as on which platform, what time of day, and any copy or links to assets going along with the post. If you need to create content for a specific post, mark that in your calendar for a few days before so that there's enough time to create the content. And don't forget your hashtags if you have them! (More on that below). Content calendars are also helpful so you can see your grid/feed before publishing, making sure everything has enough variety.
Cross-posting is a great way to post on multiple platforms with one piece of content. However, if you overutilize this strategy, your content can come across as unexciting and disingenuous. In general, it's best to create content that's optimized for each platform's specifications and audience.
Scheduling tools for social media
There are so many excellent scheduling tools out there. Our favorites are Sprout Social and Hootsuite. Both of these platforms cost money but have options for free trials. A scheduling tool is well worth it in the long run if you're looking to implement a robust social media strategy!
2. Devote time to community management
For ultimate community engagement, we don't recommend the ‚Äúpost and ghost,‚Äù or posting and then not interacting with your audience. It's important to engage with your community, post on others' accounts, and acknowledge customers' posts that tag your business. Here are our community management tips:
- Post consistently. Maybe you aim to post 3-4x a week on Instagram or post 1 video a week on Youtube. Whatever it is, make sure it's consistent, or you won't appear trustworthy or active.
- Take advantage of user-generated content. If a customer takes a photo at your business or tags you in a tweet, acknowledge them by commenting on their post or even resharing! This not only makes the customer feel special, but you may even get some extra content from it.
- Respond to questions. Answering customer questions in a timely manner will help foster community engagement and trust in your brand.
- Create high-quality content. Having high-quality content is a great way to grow followers. Remember that every piece of content should aim to entertain, educate, or inspire your audience. Don't just post to post!
- Develop a giveaway strategy. Giveaways are a great way to grow your audience ‚Äì but many times, participants unfollow after the contest is over. Keep them engaged by sending non-winners exclusive offers or posting a sneak peek into the details of your next giveaway.
- Work with influencers and creators. Hire influencers or gift your product/service to creators in exchange for posts. Whether they have 1,000 or 10,000 followers, gifting your product or service to an influencer is a great way to get the word out about your business. Just make sure you choose an influencer with high engagement rates (between 3.5% and 6%) whom your target audience follows. Make sure this person's content is relevant to your industry!
- Create a brand hashtag. Use this in your posts and encourage your followers to use it, too!
3. Keep abreast of trends
Across all social media platforms, social media trends emerge from viral content. A trend could be based on a soundbite, a song, a meme, or a dance. Here's an example of a trend that took over social media in 2022, the Little Miss meme.
Continuously check your feed and the explore page to stay on top of trends. Participating in trends ups your chances of visibility because people love seeing all the different renditions. Aim to tie in your business's product or service into the trend, if possible!
4. Use social media to boost sales
Social media is an excellent tool to drive sales. Here are some of our favorite tips:
- Link products to Instagram posts. Customers can shop directly on Instagram's app, and you can track sales and clicks this way, too.
- Share social proof. Reposting UGC (user-generated content), like a rave review, on your social channels is a great way to add the ‚Äúhuman touch‚Äù to your feed.
- Set up TikTok shopping. If you have a Shopify store, you can set up TikTok shopping so users can make purchases through the app.
- Survey how your customers found you. Instagram lets you run polls or quizzes so you can ask your followers questions. Asking them how they found you (via web, social, word of mouth) can help you choose which avenues to continue investing in.
5. Consider boosting your posts with paid dollars
If you're having trouble accumulating followers or engagement via organic posting, you may want to try boosting your posts with paid dollars. This is a great way to get more eyeballs on your content and potentially boost sales. You can start with a small dollar amount and work your way up.
6. Measure and analyze your results
With all the work you're putting into social, it's important to measure and analyze your results. Most social media platforms have free built-in ways to check analytics, but keep in mind that free tools might not give you the amount of historical data you need to make informed decisions.
You can audit this data weekly or monthly, but keep in mind which KPIs performed and which didn't. Maybe one post drove sales, another drove page clicks, and another flopped. Analyzing post performance will help you decipher where to put your energy moving forward.
Lastly, the best part about social media is that it's a great place to experiment and try different things. You can try working with influencers, gifting products for a local event, participating in trends, or experimenting with a new format. The key here is that social media evolves quickly, so being flexible and trying different platforms and strategies is the key to success in driving reach and engagement.
It's easy to get overwhelmed by all the information out there regarding social media. Simplify it by focusing on our key takeaways.
- Set realistic goals and objectives
- Decide on which type of content your target audience wants to see
- Choose the right platform for your business, keeping in mind your target audience
- Follow tried and true social media tips such as creating a content calendar, engaging with your community, following trends, using social to boost sales, investing in paid ads, measuring your results, and trying new strategies.
Social media is an extremely powerful tool for getting eyeballs on your brand and, consequently, boosting sales. There are countless ways to use the platforms, and we hope this guide will set you up for success!
Novo Platform Inc. strives to provide accurate information but cannot guarantee that this content is correct, complete, or up-to-date. This page is for informational purposes only and is not financial or legal advice nor an endorsement of any third-party products or services. All products and services are presented without warranty. Novo Platform Inc. does not provide any financial or legal advice, and you should consult your own financial, legal, or tax advisors.
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