How do small businesses use social media

Social Media For Small Businesses: 10 Practical Tips

Why should you use social media for your company's success? Quite simply: Because your customers are there. There are almost 2.5 billion social media users worldwide. Getting started with social media is also worthwhile for smaller companies. The big advantage: they expand their target groups, even in product niches.

More than 50 percent of small businesses in the US trust social media as their primary digital marketing method. After all, this is where you can find new customers particularly effectively and network with them. And unlike some other traditional marketing methods, that doesn't cost a fortune either. Small companies also recognize these advantages in this country. Even very special providers, such as the Bavarian fashion label Oberlandla, have almost 50,000 Facebook fans.

So if you are not yet on social media: do the same for many other small business owners and get on board. Increase your brand awareness, drive sales and win new customers. The following small business social media tips will get you started.

bonus: Learn from our step-by-step guide how to create a social media strategy and optimize your social media presence with Hootsuite.

Social Media For Small Businesses: 10 Tips For Your Success

1. First comes the plan

Businesses need a business plan. Your social media activities also require a carefully crafted strategy. In our guide "6 steps to a social media marketing plan" we explain what you need to do:

  1. Set social media goals. Don't just deal with vanity metrics like "likes" and retweets. Also, focus on leads generated, conversion rates, and referrals to your website. Use the S.M.A.R.T principle when defining your social media goals - goals should be specific, measurable, appealing, realistic and timed.
  2. Perform a social media audit: Find out who you are already networked with on social media, which networks your target group uses and how your own social media presence compares to the competition. It's easy with our social media audit template.

    bonus: Learn from our step-by-step guide how to create a social media strategy and optimize your social media presence with Hootsuite.

    To the free guide
  3. Set up new accounts, complete existing ones. Have you decided which social networks are best for your small business? Then set up an account on each of these platforms. Make sure that everything you publish there fits the overall company goals and the respective target group. Your company already has one or more social media presence (s)? Then you should adapt these to your brand values.
  4. Get inspiration. See what content competitors in your industry are sharing. Use social listening to gain insights into how you can target potential customers and differentiate yourself from the competition. It's worth watching leading companies like Nike, Coca-Cola, Amazon & Co.! Find out what these corporations are doing right and how you can incorporate their tactics into your own social media strategy.
  5. Create a social media calendar. The calendar is central to your essential content marketing plan. It should contain the day and time you want to post on Facebook and Instagram, tweets, and any other type of social media content.
  6. Test, evaluate and correct your strategy. Adjust your strategy again and again based on performance indicators. Analyze facts like the number of clicks per post, the reach of your campaigns and the number of page visits made via social media. You can then use this data to further optimize your strategy.

2. Determine which platforms are right for you

Not every social media platform is suitable for your company or the objectives set. The following list gives you an overview of the most popular networks:

  • Facebook: The world's most popular social media network with more than 2 billion users (as of September 2017). In addition, Facebook also has the most regular users and is, purely in terms of reach, the most attractive network. You can find out more about this in our Ultimate Guide to Facebook Marketing.
  • Instagram: Instagram owes its success to its visual concept. Successful marketing here has essentially to do with the appealing aesthetics of the shared content. According to the results of the 2016 Bloglovin ’Global Influencer Study, the platform also claims the highest engagement level of all social networks with 59 percent. Learn more: Instagram for Business - A Beginner's Guide.
  • LinkedIn: With more than 467 million users, the platform is the world's largest career network. In our comprehensive marketing guide for LinkedIn, we show you how the network can contribute to the success of your company.
  • Twitter: With a limit of 280 characters per tweet, Twitter is known for its brevity and flavor. With our tips, tricks and other helpful information about the short message service, tweet your way about social media success!
  • Snapchat: The platform on which the content disappears is especially popular with younger users. Here's everything you need to know about using Snapchat for business.
  • YouTube: If your brand has the necessary resources, the best way to capitalize on the popularity of online videos. Read our blog post 11 Smart Ways to Promote Your YouTube Channel to learn more about how you can take advantage of this platform.
  • Pinterest: It is the users who make this platform so unique. You are looking for inspiration for all areas of life on Pinterest. This makes the network perfect if your target group is to take action, for example to buy something or visit your website. More on the topic: Pinterest for companies.

Start your selection process with this list. Determine which social media platform (s) are best for your company. Maybe it's just one, maybe several or even all of them.

3. Get to know your target audience

Identifying the characteristics of your target audience is part of any market research. Without this information, there is no way how to get the attention of your desired audience.

Find out your age, gender, place of residence, pain points, average income and other facts relevant to your business.

One of the best ways to do successful market research is to create audience personas. That's how it's done:

  • Gather demographic data from social media, surveys, focus groups and customer surveys
  • Analyze this data for trends (behavior, age groups, occupational groups)
  • Identify goals and pain points
  • Use these characteristics to develop ideal customers, complete with name, job title and professional career

4. Market and sell your products on social media

Marketing on social media is more than just tweeting your brand every now and then or advertising on Facebook. Without an appropriate strategy, you will not achieve optimal results.

First, when curating social media content, the 80/20 rule (also known as the Pareto Principle) is recommended: 80 percent of your social media marketing or sales success (the outcome) comes from just 20 percent of the cause (the content curated by you). For this reason, the proportion of advertising content in all of your social media channels should only be 20 percent of the content. The remaining 80 percent is about your customers - interact with them and share relevant content that offers them added value.

Second, you should use each social media channel according to its strengths.

If you sell t-shirts or jewelry, for example, visually oriented networks such as Instagram or Pinterest are the first choice. Retailers from the fashion, beauty or jewelry industries based in the USA have recently been able to add a tag to their pictures on Instagram. Detailed product information and a link to the company's website will appear next to the image.

Pinterest also offers something similar. Small businesses can use the “purchasable pins” function (not yet available for German-speaking countries) to sell their products directly on the platform. Customers can find the product they want with just a few clicks.

5. Whenever possible: use pictures, videos and graphics

It doesn't matter which social media platform you're on: use visuals as often as possible. In the Lewis study "The State of Visual Communications in 2016", 67 percent of marketing executives said that they use visual content on social media because of the engagement effect.

Whether images, GIFs and memes or videos: The integration of visual content into your social media posts is relatively simple. Just make sure that the visual elements are relevant to both the content of the post and your target audience.

6. Quality over quantity

It is tempting to promote a brand on as many social networks as possible in order to reach the largest possible audience. There are no real benefits to wanting to dance to too many weddings at once.

More quantity usually leads to a loss of quality, because then everything revolves around bare numbers: a certain number of tweets per week or so and as many Facebook posts per month.

Better to focus on quality than quantity. Present yourself where your target group is, provide them with added value and you will reap the fruits of your work.

If you have carried out market research and created target group personas, you also know which platform (s) your target group prefers. Focus your efforts on these networks. Share quality content that solves your target audience's problems, makes their lives easier, or entertains them.

Always remember the Pareto principle: The majority of your social media content should not market your company, but should provide added value for the target group.

7. Use the right tools

Save time and money with tools that make your social media work easier.

In 2017, users spent an average of 135 minutes a day on social media. Your small business is consuming your time and attention in many ways - you can't afford to spend longer than necessary on social media.

Using a social media management solution like Hootsuite can streamline your social media marketing activities and increase your productivity. Here are a few Hootsuite features that will make your life easier:

  • Integration of different platforms. Hootsuite allows you to manage your presences on all major networks such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn from a single dashboard. You will also find more than 160 apps in our App Directory, from Tailwind for Pinterest to WeChat for Hootsuite.
  • Plan ahead. With Hootsuite, you can schedule up to 350 social media posts at a time. In addition, posts on Instagram, including regrams, can be scheduled.
  • Social media monitoring and Social listening. Keep an eye on the conversations in various social networks via a central dashboard. The constant switching between browsers or tools is history!
  • engagement. Hootsuite allows you to quickly respond to messages, mentions and comments across all channels with one click - all from a single dashboard. In addition, you can create, import or share lists of all the people whose commitment to your brand is particularly valuable, whether influencers or important customers.

8. Track and act on social media conversations about your company

In today's digital world, social media often replaces face-to-face conversations. A prompt answer to questions from your target group makes your brand appear more human. If you do not interact with your target group, the impression quickly arises that you are not interested in their wishes. And that ultimately has a negative impact on your company.

More than 80 percent of all customers expect companies to respond to a social media post within 24 hours. This is the conclusion reached by Altitude Software in the study "The Omnichannel Evolution of the Customer Experience" from 2016.

In addition, the interaction on social media gives you the opportunity to present the unique character of your brand.

Feel free to respond with a pinch of humor, but always emphasize your company's expertise. Posts with photos of you and your employees at work are very effective for connecting with your target group. Finally, a variety of data shows that social media content with lots of images increases engagement significantly.

9. Plan content ahead and free up time for engagement

Of course, it's important to share relevant content. That said, it shouldn't steal the time to actively interact with your target audience. With Hootsuite's multiple upload, you can schedule hundreds of posts for different social networks. This leaves more time to get involved.

10. Get inspiration from successful brands and their competitors

Don't be shy about adopting other brands' successful strategies. Get inspiration from brands that are well established on social media and try a few of their tactics on your own social media channels.

Track what your competitors are doing and let it inspire you. You may be able to adopt and adapt a great idea for your own campaigns.

Social media is easy for small businesses with Hootsuite. Schedule posts, interact with your target group and follow relevant conversations on various social networks - all on a single dashboard.

Free test now!


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By Marc Schenker

Marc is a copywriter who, fittingly enough, runs An expert in business and marketing, he helps businesses of all sizes get the most bang for their ad bucks.