If you’re wondering how to use social media for small businesses, look no further than these 12 essential tips to get started.
If you have a business, you likely spend a lot of your time trying to dig up the latest social media marketing tips. And for a good reason.
There are now 4.2 billion active social media users—almost twice as many as there were just five years ago. Those users spend an average of 2 hours and 25 minutes on social channels every day.
Bonus: Get a free social media strategy template to quickly and easily plan your own strategy. Also, use it to track results and present the plan to your boss, teammates, and clients.
10 essential social media tips for business
Start with a plan
It’s easy to get started using social media for business purposes. We all use social media in our day-to-day lives, so there’s a comfort level with the tools.
It doesn’t cost anything to create a Facebook Page for your business, start posting on Instagram, or create a presence on Twitter.
But before you leap in feet first, remember: every good business strategy starts with a good plan. Yes, you can use social tools for free. But the time and effort involved still represent an investment in your business.
Without a plan, you have no clear goal for what you’re trying to achieve. That means there’s no way to know if you’re getting a return on that investment.
Take the time to create a social media plan upfront. This ensures all your social efforts support specific business goals.
Here are some strategic social media tips from our guide to creating a social media marketing plan:
Set social media goals and objectives
Create goals that follow the SMART framework. They should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely.
Base your goals on metrics that will have a tangible impact on your business. For example, you could acquire customers or raise your conversion rate rather than simply racking up likes.
Research the competition
How are your competitors using social media? While you don’t want to copy them, learning from what others have done is a great way to reduce your learning curve.
Competitive analysis can help you learn what’s working and not for other businesses like yours.
Conduct a social media audit
If you’re already using social media, now’s the time to take a step back and evaluate your existing efforts.
We’ve got an easy-to-use social media audit template to walk you through the process.
You’ve looked at what your competitors are doing online, but what about other businesses? Take inspiration from the success of companies in all industries.
Where can you find these success stories? Head to the business section of most social networks’ websites, and you’ll find helpful case studies.
This blog can also be a great source of inspiration since we always include lots of examples. And pay attention to what your favorite brands are doing. What makes you want to click or follow or buy?
Create a social media calendar
A social media calendar helps you post the right content to the proper social channels at the right time. It should include a plan for your content mix.
Try starting with the 80-20 rule. Use 80% of your content to inform, educate, or entertain your audience. Use the other 20% to promote your brand or sell your products.
2. Decide which platforms are right for you.
Please don’t make assumptions about where your audience spends their time online.
Your instinct might tell you that if you’re targeting Gen Z, you should skip Facebook and focus on Instagram and TikTok. But the data shows that nearly a quarter of Facebook users are aged 18 to 24.
Social might not seem like a top priority if you’re selling to baby boomers. But it should be. Facebook and Pinterest are the top social networks for boomers. Adults over age 65 are Facebook’s fastest-growing audience segment.
Maybe you think TikTok marketing is not the right fit for your brand. But even well-established brands with an audience well outside Gen Z are experimenting with this platform.
Keep in mind that TikTok saw 56 million new app downloads in December 2020 alone.
Choosing your platforms doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing approach. You can use different social channels to reach different audiences or meet various business goals.
The average internet user has 8.4 social media accounts to connect with them on different platforms for different purposes.
For example, you could use Facebook to build your audience and generate leads and Twitter for customer service.
3. Know your audience
Using social media for business is so effective because you can micro-target your audience. But first, you need to understand who your audience is.
Start by compiling data on your current customers. Then, dig deeper with social media analytics. You’ll soon start to understand who’s buying from and interacting with you online.
Hootsuite Insights Powered by Brandwatch can help you uncover detailed information like the top hashtags, referral sites, and even specific social authors for terms relevant to your business.
Once you’ve defined your audience, you can create buyer personas, which will help you understand the best ways to speak to your audience. We’ve got a free buyer persona template to help you get started.
4. Expand your audience
Once you have a clear picture of your audience, you can revisit your social media plan. It’s time to look for ways to reach more people just like them.
For example, when lockdown measures meant more people were looking for ways to fill their time at home, The Great Courses Plus switched up its Facebook advertising strategy to expand its audience quickly.
5. Build relationships
The unique benefit of social media marketing for small businesses is that it allows you to talk directly to customers and followers. You can build relationships over time rather than asking for a sale upfront.
Create a Facebook Group
Facebook Groups are another great way to build community and brand loyalty.
For example, the New York Times Podcast Club Facebook Group is “a book club for podcasts.” With more than 37,000 members, the group establishes the NYT as a go-to source for information beyond breaking news.
Connect with other entrepreneurs and influencers in your niche
Think your business is too small to work with influencers? Micro-influencers and nano-influencers with as few as 1,000 dedicated followers can effectively establish brand trust.
As a bonus, they are often well within the budget range of smaller brands.
Mention followers in your posts and Stories
Collecting user-generated content through contests and branded hashtags is an excellent way to source quality material for your social feed. UGC is also a powerful source of social proof.
Even better, sharing your followers’ content on your social channels (and tagging them, of course) helps you establish relationships with some of your biggest fans.
Use the social platforms’ built-in interactive tools.
From Twitter polls to interactive stickers in Instagram Stories, there are many ways to spark specific interactions with your followers.
For example, this summer, Panera Bread launched a relationship-building campaign to draw attention to its new coffee subscription. They announced they would give away free coffee all summer if 500,000 people voted yes in their Twitter poll.
6. Pay attention to trends.
We’re not saying you should leap on every meme that goes viral. (Please don’t leap on every meme that goes viral.)
But it is a good idea to pay attention to trends in social media so you understand what people are looking for when they sign into their social channels. This helps you create appropriate content that resonates over time.