Almost 75 percent of the world’s population over 13 uses social media, spending an average of 2 hours and 27 minutes per day scrolling through their feeds and engaging with friends, family, influencers, and brands. If your business does not have a proactive social media marketing strategy, you are missing out – not just on sales but on a direct line of communication with your audience.

Social media paves the way for genuine relationships with your customers. It’s where you can secure feedback in real-time, promote discounts and special events, highlight your values, and give your followers a glimpse behind the scenes.

Small business social media marketing is vital. This guide covers the fundamentals so that you can kick-start or fine-tune your strategy.

What is social media marketing?

Social media marketing involves using social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok to strengthen your relationship with your audience, drive brand awareness, increase website traffic, and ultimately encourage sales.

Why social media marketing?

Today, 91.9 percent of marketers in US companies with 100-plus employees and 97 percent of Fortune 500 companies leverage social media marketing – and you can, too. Social media marketing is relatively affordable with a low barrier to entry.

Those aren’t the only benefits of social media for business. A strong and authentic social media presence can help you achieve the following:

  • Nurture genuine relationships with your customers, encourage brand loyalty, brand advocacy, and repeat purchases
  • Drive brand discovery and reach new audiences
  • Funnel warm leads to your website
  • Generate hype around upcoming events, product launches, and sales
  • Get to know your audience on a more personal level, allowing you to refine your product or service and create value-add content for social media and your website
  • Collate reviews and testimonials from satisfied customers
  • Bolster your brand’s reputation as an industry leader and subject matter authority
  • Communicate your brand’s values

Setting your social media goals

Getting the most out of your social media marketing efforts is not as easy as posting content and waiting for the magic to happen. Instead, social media for small business demands strategy, and like all effective strategies, yours should start with goals.

  • Why does your business need to use social media as a marketing tool? You are not investing time and resources into this initiative for the sake of it. You might be focused on expanding your audience, positioning your brand as a market leader, or driving sales.
  • What does success look like? Consider the metrics that matter most to your business. From there, you can set several measurable goals, such as growing your audience to 5,000 or generating 100 website click-throughs per week.
  • Are your objectives realistic? Some brands achieve overnight success thanks to a viral social media marketing campaign, but most don’t. Ensure your goals are attainable.
  • How do your social media marketing goals fit in and contribute to your company’s overarching goals? Social media should help you build forward momentum.
  • How long do you have to achieve your goals? In the beginning, social media marketing can feel like shouting into a void. No one’s listening, liking, sharing, or commenting. It takes time and consistency to build up an engaged audience. However, that doesn’t mean you should commit to a strategy blindly. Keep your eye on the metrics that matter, tweak your approach, and be persistent.

Knowing your audience

Social media success is founded on relationships. Your audience won’t engage with your content if they don’t connect with, relate to, or even like your brand. Plus, 71 percent of consumers prefer brands that align with their values. So to produce high-value, relatable content, you need to know who you are speaking to.

You likely already have an idea of who your audience is. Even basic information like age and location can help you shape engagement-worthy content in the beginning. Then, as your audience grows, you can use social media analytics to uncover the types of people that follow your brand, engage with your posts, and click through to your website.

Choosing the right platforms

Which platforms are right for your business will depend on your audience, the type of product or service you sell, and your resources. The average social media user logs onto 7.5 platforms per month, so choosing one or two might not be enough.

The leading platforms include:

  • Facebook – the world’s most-used social media network that works well for almost all businesses
  • Instagram – another all-rounder with a particularly good e-commerce offering (83 percent of people use Instagram to discover new products and services)
  • YouTube – excellent for educational content, and videos can be repurposed across other platforms and your website
  • TikTok – good for reaching younger audiences
  • LinkedIn – suitable for B2B businesses wanting to network and leaders or business owners looking to build their personal brand
  • Pinterest – generally best for businesses operating in fashion or beauty
  • Twitter – great for conversing directly with your audience

Creating and posting content

The number one rule of social media marketing is consistency. If you publish content seven days a week for four weeks and then disappear for two before returning, you won’t see results. Platform-specific algorithms determine organic reach on social media. These algorithms reward engagement – likes, comments, shares, and saves. Posting consistently drives your engagement up, which, in turn, triggers the algorithm to show your content to more people.

So, how can you win all-important engagement? Add value, all kinds of value. Share your expertise, inspire your audience, motivate them, and entertain them. Use social listening practices to give them something relatable to sink their teeth into and encourage engagement by asking questions.

Crucially, prioritize quality over quantity. If you can’t post quality content daily, commit to posting twice a week instead. That’s okay. Just stick to it and continue adding value every time you hit publish.

Finally, pay attention to trends and jump on the bandwagon where appropriate.

Measuring your success

Throughout your social media journey, track your performance and refine your approach using each platform’s analytics. These data points can help you determine the best time of day to post and the most effective types of posts (e.g., text-only, image, or video).

Important metrics to pay attention to include the following:

  • Engagement – likes, comments, shares, views, and saves
  • Impressions – how many people saw your post
  • Website clicks – how many people clicked a link in your post or on your profile
  • Conversion rate – how many people clicked a link and took action (e.g., made a purchase)
  • Followers – how many people follow your brand

Grow your business with social media

You’ve got the social media marketing basics down – now what? If you are ready to get serious about growing your business by focusing on your inbound marketing, let’s talk.