To Post or Not to Post? Social Media for Small Business

Illustration of human figures clustered around a larger-than-life mobile device using social media on hand-held smartphones.

Because most of the world now is online, smaller and growing companies have the unique opportunity to reach wider audiences through social media. As a result, 54% of small businesses are looking to expand their online profiles through a stronger social media presence, according to Wells Fargo.

It’s important, then, for small business owners to start thinking about how they can bolster their social media marketing efforts. In this post, we cover how to create social media for small business marketing strategies, why certain platforms might be more relevant than others and what social media tips small businesses should take.

How to Craft a Social Media Strategy for a Small Business

A small business’ social media strategy should largely reflect the company’s central goals. Whether it’s to increase the sales of a product or a service or to drive traffic, a carefully curated social media strategy can help accomplish core business goals and generate customer interest.

Drafting and implementing a small business social media marketing strategy is a delicate process, but it’s necessary to keep a company moving forward. Subir Bandyopadhyay, author and marketing expert, said there are five essential goals for a successful campaign. They are:

  1. Generate buzz about a company’s goods and services.
  2. Expand brand reach and maintain positive community standing.
  3. Bolster customer trust through open communication.
  4. Offer customer service in real time.
  5. Gather responses from your customer base.

By attending to these different objectives, a small business’ social media presence will naturally gain traction. Once realistic, quantifiable social media goals have been laid out, it’s time to start thinking outside the box.

A compelling social media strategy prioritizes one area above all others, the audience. For a small business social media strategy to get results, you must understand and speak directly to its targeted audience. Melody Conner, a member of the Forbes Business Development Council, offered some basic components of a social media strategy that will build and sustain a customer base. She maintained that understanding your brand’s audience is everything. Approaching “social media as a two-way street” will generate brand loyalty and communicate a company’s character. This company-client relationship will blossom through creating dialogues with customers and by providing another platform to represent their values.

As a result, small businesses are granted a unique opportunity to expand their image and reach far more potential customers. After you’ve determined a sound social media strategy with a specific target audience, it’s time to consider the most appropriate avenue to deliver your message.

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Choosing the Right Social Media Platforms

Different people prefer different kinds of social media, so it’s important that you select the ones that will best resonate with your clientele. A number of factors go into deciding the right platform to use.

One determining characteristic to consider is the age of your targeted audience. Jia Wertz, the CEO of the fashion brand Studio 15, said that different social media platforms resonate with different age groups. For example, 60% of Snapchat users are under age 24, and the bulk of Facebook users are between ages 24 and 45.

Gender also plays a massive role in selecting the right social media platform. According to a demographic study conducted by the Pew Research Center, 41% of women who use the internet report to use Pinterest. On the other hand, only 16% of men use the platform. Small businesses should prepare their social media campaigns based on the demographic information of their customer base. Moreover, small businesses should also utilize multiple platforms for the best possible returns.

Understanding how your audience consumes social media will lead to massive returns. For a real-world example, Big Bud Press is a small, vibrant, and inclusive clothing producer operating out of Los Angeles. The growing small business relies on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for its social media branding. At the time of this writing, its total social metrics read:

Big Bud Press social media follower count by platform: Twitter 2,000; Facebook 3,700; Instagram 183,000.

All this is to say that you don’t need to have the same metric of success across all social media platforms. While this brand prioritizes Instagram, it still has a presence on other mediums to help drive its business. As you go forward in drafting your own social media strategy, you should consider which platform or platforms you’ll home in on. Once you have decided which social media platforms you want to focus on, there are a few other necessary issues to contemplate.Its effectiveness on these platforms is heavily skewed toward Instagram, the company’s best performing platform. That makes sense when considering the company’s primarily younger customer base intersects with the app’s prime audience of men and women between the ages of 18-24.

Social Media Tips for Small Business Owners

Preparing a social media strategy and selecting the right platforms is just the beginning. You must continually engage with your audience to maximize an online presence. Below are helpful tips to focus your social media endeavors.

1. Produce and Manage Meaningful Content

Ultimately, a social media strategy on carefully selected platforms will only be as effective as its content. It’s vital that you work actively to incorporate resonant, effective content in your social media strategies. Jeff Foster, CEO of the social media branding organization Tomoson, said businesses shouldn’t rely on the same content across multiple platforms. Instead, he suggested that “a mix of videos, guides, infographics and other styles will engage your potential customers more effectively.”

Diversifying your content isn’t just best practice; it allows you to access separate audiences. According to a study conducted by My SMN, only “20% of people will read the text on a page, but 80% of people will watch a video.” This information highlights the importance of implementing a social media strategy that features video content. Small businesses, as a result, need to find clever ways to project their brand’s image through video. Practically every social media platform today caters to video content, and small businesses are in a unique position to approach audiences through active, engaging content.

2. Prepare for a Social Media Crisis

Social media allows small business owners to interact with their customer base in real time. At the same time, they are more exposed to upset customers in a public forum. Even the best content from businesses with the most solid social media strategies are open to negative reception. It’s the responsibility of the small business to maintain a fluid, responsive online presence to manage a social media crisis.

It’s important that you respond quickly and decisively to different kinds of social media crises because they can cause harm to your brand’s reputation. While these situations aren’t very common, you should be fully aware of the possibilities in order to respond in the right way at the right time.

3. Get Educated About Small Business Social Media

Small businesses occupy a versatile but also vulnerable position in social media. They can connect with real people on a more intimate level than their national and corporate competitors. Small business owners, then, can be a lot more honest, open and fun with their social media. A solid education will prepare any advertiser or influencer to navigate the nuances of social media marketing.

Point Park’s online MA in Communication Technology will give you with the tools to fully capitalize on the benefits of social media for small business. The flexible format of our online Master’s in Communications means you can earn your degree on a schedule that works with your busy life.