29 Essential Social Media Tips for Small Businesses

29 Essential Social Media Tips for Small Businesses

Social media for small businesses can be easy, effective, and efficient. Do you find that hard to believe?

Well, the social media tips for small businesses I've included in this article will make it so!

Why should small businesses use social media in the first place? Simple...your customers are using it and if you want to reach them you need to be there too.

Check out this graph of social media users worldwide...

Graph of Social Media Users Worldwide To Promote social media for small business marketing

Number of social media users worldwide from 2010 to 2021 (in billions)

This graph clearly shows social media isn't going anywhere and its use will continue to grow.

Billions of people will continue using Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Instagram, and Google+  in the coming years and who knows what new platforms are going to pop up between now and then.

According to a 2014 survey, 88% of companies in the US are using social media for marketing.

Do you really want to be a part of the remaining 12% who can't keep up? I bet you don't.

I want to encourage you to use social media to grow your business and help you with these essential social media tips for small businesses.

1. Set Your Social Media Goals

If you don't set goals, then you'll have no idea whether your social media marketing is working.

Answer these question to help come up with your social media marketing goals.

What do I want to achieve from this?

  • Customer Retention
  • Lead Generation
  • Sales
  • Brand Awareness
  • Engagement

How long will it take for me to achieve my goals?

  • A​​​​ Week
  • A Month
  • A Year

What metrics will I measure to track my goals?

  • Impressions
  • Comments
  • Reach
  • Shares

2. Once You Get Started, Commit To It

Peter Drucker Quote on Commitment

Be an architect and an engineer to reach your social media marketing goals. What do I mean by this?

When you set your social media marketing goals don't just stop there, make sure you implement strategies to achieve them. Commit to what you started and take the little steps required every day/week to reach your goals.

Social media marketing isn't a one-time event, it's an ongoing process.

3. Understand That Social Media Creates a Legitimate Presence

Facebook started as a simple hobby before it became what it is today - a social media juggernaut.

With billions of people on Facebook today, it isn't hard to make a small business known globally. Social media platforms can catapult businesses from unknown to known with one viral post.

While some customers are still very traditional, most rely on social media and online reviews to know more about the legitimacy of a brand. This is one of the most important social media tips for small businesses... 

without a social media presence potential customers might discount the legitimacy of your business.

4. Know Your Audience

Targeting very specific markets using social media can easily be done. If you want to reach your goals effectively and efficiently, you should study your audience based on their:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Location
  • Wants
  • Problems

In other words, it would be helpful to create buyer personas.

Creating buyer personas will give you a clear picture of your ideal customer(s) with information like customer demographics, behavior patterns, motivations, goals, and needs.

The better you understand your ideal customer(s) the more clearly you can communicate with them and create relevant content.

5. Create a Handle That is Consistent and Recognizable

Your social media handle or name has to be consistent on all sites. For example, here's the info for Rialto Mobile Marketing:

Twitter - @rialtomobile

Facebook - @rialtomobilemarketing

LinkedIn - Rialto Mobile Marketing

Pinterest - Rialto Mobile Marketing

Google+ - Rialto Mobile Marketing

They're not exactly the same, but pretty consistent across multiple platforms. Social media handles give your small business identity, security, SEO, findability, and reach.

6. Build a Good Online Reputation With Consistent & Great Social Media Content

What you share online reflects you and your small business. Your audience knows the difference between good and bad content.

There's a ton of content being published these days, but not a lot of great content. Standout by publishing information people find valuable.

Great content also makes your Online Reputation Management easier and more effective.

7. Your Content is Your Brand

One of the reasons why a lot of small businesses fail in social media is because of brand misrepresentation.

Your social media content should always represent your brand. Share content that is relevant to your audience, that will build trust and loyalty and is in good taste.

For an example of what NOT to do just check out this post...

Cinnabon Twitter Fail

Click on the image for more examples of massive social media fails.

8. Engage Your Audience With Entertaining and Useful Content

When followers get bored with you, they unfollow.

This can hurt certain goals like lead conversions, brand awareness, and sales. So how do you fight this?

Share content that is fun, useful, relevant, and engaging. Here are some examples.

  • Follow Daily Themes
  • Pose an Engaging Question
  • Ask Fans to “Fill in the Blank”
  • Post a “Caption This” Photo
  • Spotlight the People Behind Your Business
  • Share Relevant Third-Party Resources
  • Help Promote Local Events

9. Let Your Personality Shine

Nobody wants to connect with a robot. Behind every social media account is a human being.

With social media for small businesses, it is always better to show the audience you're human by combining personality and content.

Never hesitate to have fun while doing business. Just keep in mind #7 above.

10. Customers Want Visual Content

Written content is still very popular and incredibly effective, don't forget about all those people that respond to visuals!

Not all people enjoy reading books, blogs, newsletter, etc. I encourage small businesses to mix social media content with colorful and engaging visuals. Some examples of visual content are:

  • Infographics
  • Engaging images and photos
  • Calls-to-action (CTAs)
  • Inspiring quote cards
  • Data visualizations and graphical data
  • Screenshots
  • Tutorials and question-answer visuals
  • Quizzes and visual puzzles
  • Memes and comics
  • Video (both live and recorded)

11. Try Video Marketing

Many internet users prefer to consume video. In fact, according to Wyzowl.com 63% of businesses are using video as a marketing tool.

Here are a few of the benefits of video marketing:

  • Shows Great ROI
  • Builds Trust
  • Google Loves Videos
  • Appeals to Mobile Users
  • Can Explain Everything
  • Engages All Kinds of Buyers
  • Encourages Social Media Shares

12. Don't Overpost or Deny Your Audience of Content

Always remember that consistency is different from posting too much or too little online content.

You could lose subscribers if you regularly blast or deprive your audience of useful content. Check out this resource to determine how often you should post on social media. 

However, any recommended posting frequency is just a guideline. You know your audience and some will require more or less than the recommendations.

13. Choose the Right Social Media Platforms for Your Business

The biggest mistake I see with social media for small businesses is having too many accounts at one time.

Here's a Social Media Marketing 101 trick: If you don't have the time to stay active on all your accounts then you are better off starting small and expanding to other networks as time permits. 

Here are some tips to help you identify the best social media networks for your small business:

  • Start small. No more than 2-3 social networks in the beginning. 
  • Determine which platforms your competitors are using.
  • Determine what type of content you want to post (written, images, video, etc).
  • Determine what social media networks your ideal customers use.
  • Outline your social media strategy including your objectives (brand awareness, content distribution, etc.)

14. Plan, Create and Schedule Your Social Media Content

Social media for small businesses can get a little overwhelming if you don't have a plan.

Create a plan for how often you will post, what networks you will use, and the type of content you will share.

For example, a Facebook posting strategy might look something like this:

  • ​35% of posts will be for our ongoing content like blog posts
  • 20% will be curated content (ie. other people's content we share)
  • 25% will support our business goals (specials, events, etc. we'd like to promote)
  • 20% will be about our company, our people, and our culture.

To save time, apply CCaS (Curate, Create, and Schedule) to your online content. The best part is that there are online tools you can use to apply CCaS.

For Content Curation:

For Content Creation:

For Social Media Content Scheduling:

15. Share Your Links to Everyone, Everywhere

Put clickable social icons, URLs, or usernames on your:

  • Website
  • Business cards
  • Email signatures
  • Marketing materials
  • Everywhere else you are found

16. Use Social Media to Build Your Email List

Social media can be great for building your business, but you don't own your social media pages.

What do I mean? You might have 1M Facebook followers, but if Facebook decides to change their policies the traffic you get may plummet overnight!

But, if you use your 1M Facebook followers to build your email list, then you've got a real asset that you own. Make sense?

17. Take Advantage of Other Social Media Tools

There are many tools available online to help you manage social media tasks easier. Here are some online tools that you should check out:

  • Google Alerts for social media listening.
  • RiteTag lets you add images, hashtags, GIFs, emojis and customized CTAs on all your shared links on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Commun.it eliminates all the noise from your timeline so you can see the most important updates.
  • bit.ly is a URL shortener to make it easier to share links on social media.
  • LastPass is a password management tool you can use to create strong passwords for all your accounts.

18. Don't be Afraid to Engage With Your Audience

Social media engagement is very important because it is a great way to show customers that there's a human behind that online profile.

However, it takes time and effort to build healthy and successful engagement. The chart below shows the key elements of Social Media Engagement:

Elements of a successful Social Media Engagement

19. Respond to Negative Feedback

Negative feedback can be constructive in a way that gives you an opportunity to improve your products and services.

Hearing bad comments about your business is tough, but it is a way to listen to customers and create healthy conversations around your shortcomings.

Don't get defensive! When you respond to feedback keep it professional and don't take anything personally.

The only thing worse than negative feedback is a defensive business owner who lashes out and tries to justify their actions on social media...not good.

20. Provide Customer Service When Needed

Social media hasn't only become an avenue for marketing and advertising, it's also considered a customer service tool.

According to a 2016 survey by SproutSocial.com, 34.5% of people prefer social media to communicate with a brand.

Customer Care Choice Survey Graph

Although the survey revealed a promising future for social media communication, brands reply to just 11% of people. This is an epic fail in my opinion.

If someone takes the time to communicate with your business on social media you will pay dearly if they hear crickets.

21. Handle Your Social Media Mistakes Carefully

It's easy to commit mistakes in the internet world.

A click of a button can change the course of a marketing campaign from good to really bad. Let me tell you some remedies to handle these hiccups.

If your account was hacked...
Then secure all your accounts, change your passwords, and ensure that no confidential information was leaked.

If you posted something offensive…

Then delete the content, apologize, learn from it, and determine the posts that won’t isolate current and potential customers.

If a customer is complaining about your business…
Then acknowledge the writer’s concerns, offer ways to resolve the issue, or ask the customer to reach out to your business so you can further discuss the issue privately.

If you posted information that was incorrect or misleading…
Then delete or update any posts with misinformation.

If you’ve been ignoring your customers…

Then make it a priority to respond to your customer’s social media comments, thank them for their loyalty, or even offer them a coupon or reward.

22. Use Social Media to Build Web Traffic

If your social media marketing goals don't include increasing web traffic then something needs to change.

Social media can improve website visits when done right. I have a few tips:

  • Create visual content
  • Come up with shareable content
  • Promote your products and/or services on social to drive traffic back to your site

23. You May Have to Bring Money to the Table

Don't get discouraged if you are having a hard time building an audience for free (organically).

Despite what some people may say, it's incredibly difficult to build a large audience on social media without investing in paid advertising.

In fact, even businesses with large followings are seeing organic engagement going down on many social channels. This means they are having to pay to promote their content to get the same reach they had before.

Like it or not, social media is quickly becoming a "pay to play" game for businesses large and small.

24. Utilize Social Media as a Social Responsibility Instrument

Aside from making money from social media, small businesses can also promote social responsibility.

If your company stands for something or supports an important cause make sure people know about it. Giving back to the community is as important as generating profit. 

If your company supports a local charity, post information about the company recently volunteering, etc. This will let people know you are human and care about something, which will create engagement for your business long term.

25. Take Advantage of Analytics Tools

How do you know if your social media campaigns are working?

Use analytics tools.

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest have their own analytics tools that you should take advantage of. Let these tools:

  • Show You What You’re Doing Right
  • Track Your Progress
  • Help You Better Allocate Your Time

26. Learn From the Success of Your Competition

It's easy to check out your competition on social media. All you have to do is pull up their page.

You've got a chance to level up your game by analyzing how competitors are doing with social media.

Improve your strategy by gathering and using the data you collect. You can also draw inspiration from their strengths and weaknesses, and apply it to your own benefit.

27. Follow Social Media Leaders

What should you do when you're just starting with social media? Follow some of the strongest leaders in your industry.

Honestly, you can learn from anyone that has a large following on social media.

They didn't get a huge following by accident. They're doing at least some things right, and you can learn by paying attention to what they're doing.

28. Review, Test, Repeat

Winston Churchill Success Quote

There's nothing wrong with failing, especially in social media marketing. If your strategy didn't give you results the first time, then it's time to do the following:

Review your posts so you know what worked and what didn't.

Test new strategies. Post different types of content, different topics, etc. to see what your audience responds to.

Repeat the process.

29. Hire an Expert to Help if You Need To

Ask yourself these questions:

Do I have the time to do social media marketing?

Do I have the experience to be successful in social media marketing?

Do I have the patience to learn social media for small businesses?

If you answer "NO" to at least one of these, then it's time to hire an expert to work on your social media marketing.

So, those are my 29 essential social media tips for small businesses. Gaining momentum in social media can take time, but with the right strategy and persistence, you will get there.

What do you think of this list? Did I miss anything?

Feel free to comment below or share.

Need more lead generation tips? Check out our entire Ultimate Guide to Lead Generation.

About the Author Tim Fitzpatrick

Tim Fitzpatrick is the President of Rialto Mobile Marketing. At Rialto Mobile Marketing we create marketing systems to help small businesses achieve simple, sustainable growth. We help small businesses differentiate themselves from the competition, work with more ideal clients, command a premium for their products and services, and make marketing easier with consistent, repeatable results.

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Leave a Comment:

6 comments
SUKRU ASLANYUREK says February 13, 2018

Thank you very much, Tim! Brilliant summary.

Reply
    Tim Fitzpatrick says February 13, 2018

    Thanks for the kind words Sukru.

    Reply
Nancy H. says February 21, 2018

Thank you for sharing! Social media marketing is difficult for a lot of businesses- keeping up with regular content while conducting business can be too much, especially for smaller businesses. A lot need help from outside companies to help promote them both online and offline

Reply
    Tim Fitzpatrick says February 22, 2018

    Thanks for the comments Nancy. I completely agree.

    Reply
Sean Merenda says February 27, 2018

Great list of social media tips for small businesses. We often work with small businesses in order to gain them a larger audience and I believe they should all be familiar with the concepts discussed in this article. I particularly liked the topic about determining your audience, because you would be surprised how many people don’t actually know who their audience is before they begin social media marketing. Loved the article.

Reply
    Tim Fitzpatrick says February 28, 2018

    Thanks Sean. We appreciate you taking the time to check out the article.

    Reply
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