- Defining your audience and setting goals can guide your social media content in the right direction
- Using social media management tools keeps your content organized and saves you valuable time
- You don’t need a massive budget to drive significant results with social media ads
Getting the word out about your small business can feel like trying to stand out in a crowded arena. Brands everywhere are vying for consumer attention, and it’s often those with the deepest pockets that get the mic. But you don’t need to speak to everyone in the space. Using social media for small business marketing can help you break through the noise—without wasting cash—by reaching and converting the right people. Follow these six steps to make social media a profitable part of your digital marketing strategy.
1. Set your social media marketing goals
Setting goals is an essential first step to effectively run social media for small business. Be specific about what you want to achieve and the time frame you want to achieve it in. Your goals should be measurable and realistic so you can align your strategy, content, and budget with your needs.
For example, if you want to boost your website traffic, your social media marketing goal may be to increase link clicks by 100%. Or if you want to increase revenue, your goal might be to increase your return on investment to $8 per dollar spent on social media marketing.
2. Choose the right platforms
Narrowing down the social media platforms you’ll use will help you focus your energy where it matters most. As a small business owner, you don’t want to spread yourself thin, so take some time to consider where your potential customers are actually spending time.
For example, social media users on LinkedIn are primarily business-minded professionals, many of whom are college grads. This would be a good fit for a business-to-business (B2B) brand, like a commercial cleaning company, but not necessarily for a teen fashion brand. Where that fashion brand may fit is on Snapchat, which is perfect for targeting Gen Z and young millennial females.
Each social media network offers a unique audience, so do some research to create social media accounts on the platforms that will maximize your efforts.
3. Create your social media content strategy
Once you’ve identified the social networks you’ll focus on, start clarifying your social media marketing strategy. With your target audience in mind, outline:
- What types of content you’ll post: What types of visuals will you use (photos, videos, infographics, etc.)? Will you stick to long captions or short captions?
- What you’ll post about: What are 3-5 topics you’ll always stick to? For example, if you’re using social media for dental marketing, you may post about dental hygiene tips, patient deals, and oral health facts. What key messages will you send?
- When you’ll post: How often will you post each week? On what days and times?
- What your brand looks like: What colors and fonts will you use? What are your brand voice and personality like?
A great way to gain inspiration for your strategy is doing a quick audit of your current social media presence. For instance, take note of what users are currently responding to and what times of day you’re getting the highest engagement so you can hone in on what’s already working. If you don’t have much of a presence on any social media site yet, you can get ideas by scrolling through competitor pages.
Your strategy can and should change over time, but doing this will help you begin building out your content as you learn what works (and what doesn’t) for your local business.
4. Build your content calendar
The next step in creating social media for small business is building your content calendar. You should plan and create the content ahead of time—ideally at least 2-4 weeks in advance. You can always add in content later based on current events or last-minute ideas, but having a planned content calendar helps you work ahead and avoid the day-of scramble to publish new posts.
When it’s time to brainstorm, refer back to your social media strategy to make sure your ideas are in line with what you want to achieve. With your 3-5 core topics in mind, generate specific post ideas for each week that you plan to post. Once your ideas are set, you can start writing captions, designing or sourcing visuals, and selecting the hashtags you want to use.
To help you streamline the posting process, consider using a social media management tool like Buffer, Hootsuite, or Later. Thanks to the automation capabilities of these tools, publishing can be a fairly easy process. As you’re creating content, simply upload it straight into the tool and schedule it to post at a specified date and time.
Many of these tools offer free basic plans and you can use them to post on and manage different social platforms—from Facebook and Twitter to Pinterest and LinkedIn—all from one spot. If you’d like to save yourself time and have extra budget, you can also consider outsourcing this work to a professional social media marketer. It can cost anywhere from $500 to several thousand dollars per month.
5. Budget for social media advertising
Social media advertising is a key tool for extending your content’s reach beyond your existing followers. When you pay for an ad, your content will appear as “sponsored” or “promoted” directly within the feeds of the specific audience you want to reach.
But before you start investing in ads, create a budget that details exactly how much you can spend in a given time frame and which specific content you’ll promote. For example, you could reserve 25% of your budget for promoting new products and another 25% for re-engaging your customer base.
On average, businesses spend 12% of their marketing budget on social media. Their budgets are primarily used to build brand awareness and acquire new customers. Don’t worry if your budget isn’t massive. Even $200 a month can go a long way. Social media ads are a fairly low-cost way to promote your business for two reasons:
- They’re highly targeted: Instead of reaching a general audience, you’ll be able to target specific demographics and interests for a better return on investment.
- They follow a cost-per-click model: You’ll only pay when someone engages with your ad.
If you plan to invest in influencer marketing—which involves paying influential people in your industry to promote your product—along with social media ads, carve out room in your marketing budget for that, too.
6. Track your performance
Not every marketing tactic will be an exact fit for your social media channels. Perfecting your social media strategy takes a bit of trial and error. As you test out new social media marketing tactics for small business, it’s essential to track metrics. Metrics provide irrefutable data about whether your campaigns are working—and if you’re hitting your marketing goals—so you know if you should continue with that strategy or go back to the drawing board.
Don’t just look at vanity metrics either. Numbers like total follower count and total post likes are surface-level and don’t actually tell you much about performance. Focus on metrics such as:
- Engagement rate
- Click-through rate
- Conversion rate
- Follower growth rate