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Social Media For Small Business: The Definitive Guide


02 Nov 2020 • 9 min read •

The Loomly Team

Social media has become an integral part of the digital marketing plan. Brands of all sizes, in all locations, allocate a significant portion of their marketing budget towards social media activities.

And it’s easy to see why:

  • It’s free to use.
  • People are eagerly waiting to hear from you.
  • And, more importantly, they’re ready to buy.

But how can small businesses harness the power of social media?

Well, the good news is that you don’t have to be a big brand or celebrity. Plenty of small businesses use social media to attract people to their brand and convert them into loyal customers.

And that’s what this guide is all about. Inside, you’ll discover why social media marketing is great for small businesses and how you can use it for your small business.

Let’s dive in!

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Why Social Media Marketing Is Great for Your Small Business

Here are four compelling reasons why your small business should use social media marketing:

1.  Your ideal audience lives and breathes social media

Figures from July 2020 showed that over half (3.96 billion) of the total population (7.8 billion) were active social media users:

social media for small business global audience

Furthermore, the number of people using social media worldwide is expected to rise to 4.41 billion by 2025:

social media for small business number of social media users 2025

So, you have a great opportunity to reach this ready-made captive audience.

2. People buy from brands on social media

Active social media users use social media to research and make purchasing decisions. Latest figures show that 90% of people buy from brands they follow on social media. Furthermore, 75% of people said they had increased their spending with a brand they follow.

3. Social media gives you direct access to people

Another great thing about social media is that you get immediate access to these potential customers. Not only can you publish content to attract them to your brand, but you can also have conversations by responding to comments and answering questions.

4. Social media has leveled the playing field

As a small business, you likely don’t have an enormous budget. But thankfully, you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars to market on social media.

Social media allows small businesses to:

  • Personalize their brand
  • Appear larger than they are
  • Build an audience for little or no cost
  • Monitor what their competitors are doing
  • Network with their audience and influencers

Let’s take a look at a few examples of small businesses using social media.

Examples of Successful Small Business Campaigns on Social Media

Here are three small businesses who’ve used social media to launch and grow their brand.

Square Sayings

Square Sayings creates promotional products like wall art, phone cases, hats, drinkware, shirts, sweatshirts, and stickers based on their beautiful beaded graphics.

social media for small business successful brands square sayings

They use Instagram and Facebook to literally share “square sayings” in striking yet straightforward visuals. For example, here’s their Instagram grid:

social media for small business successful brands square sayings instagram grid

Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium

Everyone loves cute cat pictures – even the team at Loomly – which is why social media is the ideal platform for Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium to promote their London-based cat cafe.

People pay for the privilege of a “socially-distanced” 90-minute session in the cat wonderland to enjoy dining, admiring, or playing with the cats.

The cafe uses Facebook and Instagram to post photos of the cats and their carers to entice visitors:

social media for small business successful brands lady dinah cat emporium

Who can resist a visit with such friendly, welcoming faces?

Easy Lunchboxes

Easy Lunchboxes founder Kelly Lester got her idea for compartmentalized lunch boxes from the Japanese Bento box system:

social media for small business successful brands easy lunchboxes

She launched her business without spending thousands of dollars on advertising. Instead, she sent samples to relevant influencers – parents, educators, and schools – in exchange for reviews and giveaways. As a result, she got loads of links to her website and tons of photos and shares on social media.

Since then, Kelly has continued to use social media to grow her brand, especially on Pinterest, where she has 89K followers:

social media for small business successful brands easy lunchboxes pinterest

How to Market Your Small Business on Social Media

Now, it’s your turn. Follow our 5-part framework for marketing your small business on social media:

  1. Set your goals and objectives
  2. Plan and produce your content
  3. Engage with your audience
  4. Measure your success
  5. Rinse and repeat

1. Set your goals and objectives

Before you rush into producing and post content on social media, you need to set goals and objectives to help you achieve your overall business and marketing goals.

Your social media goals should support your overall marketing goals, which, in turn, support your business goals.

For example:

  • Business goal: increase customers
    • Marketing goal: increase leads and conversions
      • Social media goal: increase followers and engagement

Some of the popular goals that small businesses try to achieve with social media include:

But your goals can be different, depending on your industry, location, and circumstances. For example, you may want to provide better customer service.

Once you decide on your goals, add some specific metrics so you can measure their success. For example, if you were using Instagram to increase followers and engagement, you might decide:

  • Followers – Increase the number of Instagram followers by 5% in Q1.
  • Engagement – Increase the number of likes, comments, and shares on posts by 10% in Q1.

With your goals and objectives set, you can move onto planning and producing your content.

2. Plan and produce your content

When you’re planning and producing your content, we recommend using a social media calendar so that you can:

  • Plan your content ahead of time.
  • Create a regular publishing schedule.
  • Tell a consistent and compelling brand story over time.

It’s important to remember that social media takes time to bear fruit.

“Building a brand and a community is more like running a marathon than a sprint, and consistency is the most important key success factor in the long run.”

With that in mind, here’s how to build your social media calendar.

  1. Define your publishing strategy.
  2. Fill your calendar with content ideas.
  3. Create and customize posts for each platform.
  4. Review, approve, and schedule your posts.

Step 1 – Define your publishing strategy

The first step is to define your publishing strategy so you always have a content plan you can refer back to.

1.1 – Know your audience and market

First up, you need to know your audience demographics and your competitors. Make sure you know the following:

  • Age ranges
  • Gender breakdown
  • Geographic location
  • Competition in your market
1.2 – Choose your social platforms

With so many social media networks to choose from, it’s important to select the ones that are most relevant to you and your audience. Plus, it’s better to focus on a couple of key channels rather than covering every single network.

According to Clutch, nearly all small businesses use Facebook (91%), and almost half use Instagram (49%).

social media for small business facebook instagram usage

Both platforms recently added new features to support small businesses, such as the #SupportSmallBusiness hashtag on Facebook and the Support Small Business sticker on Instagram:

social media for small business support campaign

1.3 – Decide how frequently you are going to publish

Next, you need to decide how often you’re going to post content on your chosen social media channels.

According to the Clutch survey, one-third of small businesses (33%) post to social media at least once a day.

But you should adjust the publishing frequency based on the platform and your specific marketing needs.

We highly recommend focusing on how many high-quality posts you can commit to posting regularly when you’re deciding on your publishing frequency.

1.4 – Craft your editorial line

Now you have an idea of your audience and the social channels you’re going to use, you’ll need to consider what type of content you’ll publish and how you want your brand to sound. For instance:

  • What topics will you cover? And which will you avoid?
  • What tone of voice will you have? How do your captions sound to your reader?
  • What style will you use? Informative, educational, humorous? 

Step 2 – Fill your calendar with content ideas

With your publishing strategy defined, you can start filling your calendar with content ideas.

2.1 – Write down important dates for your brand

You can start by entering important dates for your brand, such as product launches, sales promotion, anniversaries, achievements, and special events.

2.2 – Select the best publishing days per channel

After you’ve added your important business dates, you need to consider the best days to publish your other content.

Ideally, you’ll want to base this on your past publishing experience. But if you’re just starting on social media, you could refer to third-party research and studies to select the best publishing days per social media channel.

2.3 – Fill in the gaps with evergreen ideas

Finally, you can fill in the gaps with evergreen ideas, such as user-generated content, curated posts, and relevant trending topics.

According to Clutch, the top three types of social media content for small businesses are:

  1. Images and infographics (76%)
  2. Offers and promotions (58%)
  3. Reviews and testimonials (52%)

social media for small business types of content

Step 3 – Create and customize posts for every social network

Now it’s time to start creating and customizing content for each of your chosen social networks.

3.1 – Determine the best publishing date and time

To determine the best publishing times for your audience per social network, you can use previous experience. Alternatively, if you’re just starting, you could make some informed guesses of the best times, such as the daily commute or lunch break, or refer to third-party research studies.

3.2 – Text

The text element of social media posts is typically short, but different platforms have different character limits and audience expectations, so you’ll need to adjust your message accordingly. Besides the words, you can also include links, hashtags, mentions, and emojis.

3.3 – Visuals

The visual element of your content is crucial, especially on visually-oriented platforms like Instagram and Pinterest, as they attract attention and drive action.

Twitter says: “The single simplest thing you can do to get more attention to your Tweets is to add an image or GIF.”

According to eMarketer, over half of Millennials (50.6%) and Gen Z (55.2.%) internet users said their most recent fashion buys were inspired by browsing images on social media:

social media for small business emarketer survey millenials gen z purchase influence

You can use various visual assets, including images, GIFs, videos, slideshows, carousels, Stories, and Live presentations.

Step 4 – Review, approve, and schedule posts

With all your content created, there’s one final step before you hit publish, and that’s to review, approve, and schedule your posts.

Ideally, you want a social media workflow system that allows you to keep track of team feedback, save post changes, and make collaborators accountable for their actions.

4.1 – Review your posts

Make sure reviewers have a clear preview of the post as it will appear on each social network.

For instance, a full preview like this:

social media for small business post preview

Works better than a snapshot like this:

social media for small business post preview spreadsheet

4.2 – Approve your posts

As well as checking for typos and grammar errors, you’ll want to check your posts for:

  • Message: consistency with brand values.
  • Format: compliance with brand guidelines.
  • Goals: alignment with brand strategy.
4.3 – Schedule your posts

Once your posts have been reviewed and approved, you can schedule them at the planned publishing date and time. Scheduling your content in advance gives you more time to engage with your audience, as we’ll see in the next part.

Loomly Tip: Loomly includes a built-in scheduler that allows you to automatically schedule your posts once they’re approved.

3. Engage with your audience

Publishing content is only one half of social media marketing. The other half involves engaging and interacting with your audience. Here are a few ways you can do that:

Answer questions that people ask in the comments

The natural place to start is by promptly answering questions or responding to comments on your posts.

Use social listening

You can use social listening to check and monitor what’s being said about your brand, aside from comments and replies on your posts. This provides an opportunity to join in conversations and like, share, and comment on posts you were unaware of.

Stimulate conversations

You can stimulate conversations by asking questions in your posts. For example, “What was your first car?” could get people reminiscing and sharing memories, including photos, of their first car.

Partner with micro-influencers

Micro-influencers allow you to extend your reach and engage with a broader audience. A typical micro-influencer would have from 2,000 to 50,000 followers on social media. But make sure you partner with an influencer in your niche who has a relevant audience.

Build a community

One of the best ways to engage your audience and build your community is by sharing user-generated content. For example, on Instagram, you could use the Share Feed Posts to Stories feature to include the original username and a link back to the post.

social media for small business build a community

4. Measure your success

Measuring your performance is an essential part of marketing your business on social media. After all, if you don’t measure your performance, how do you know if you achieved your goals and objectives.

According to Clutch’s survey of 500 small businesses in the US, when tracking social media success:

  • 34% use engagement metrics, such as likes, comments, shares, clicks, and followers.
  • 19% use customer satisfaction metrics, such as response rates and times.
  • 17% use ROI metrics, such as conversions.

social media for small business measure engagement success

Loomly Tip: Loomly’s Advanced Analytics provide you with social media account, post, and link metrics that let you compare performance over time.

5. Rinse and repeat

Once your social media marketing is up-and-running, you’ll be able to get into a cycle of continuous improvement by measuring, learning, and experimentation.

There will always be things you can test and adjust to boost performance, but essentially, you should be able to follow this 5-part framework for marketing your small business on social media.

Social Media for Small Business in a Nutshell

Small businesses can’t afford to ignore social media as it offers a free, ready-made audience that’s eager to buy from their favorite brands.

If you want to market your small business on social media, follow our 5-part framework for success:

  • Set your goals and objectives
  • Plan and produce your content
  • Engage with your audience
  • Measure your success
  • Rinse and repeat
Loomly is the Brand Success Platform that helps your small business grow on social media: start your 15-day free trial now.
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