- Social media is a two-way communication tool that helps you build relationships with your target audience
- For small businesses with limited budgets, advertising or creating free content for social media can maximize your return on investment (ROI)
- A consistent brand and posting schedule is key to building a loyal following on social media
Social media is a major marketing tool for businesses around the world. The vast majority of Fortune 500 companies use at least one social media channel to drive revenue—but you don’t need a big budget to see results.
Why exactly is social media important for small businesses? Social media is important because it helps small business owners find their niche, connect with ideal customers, and build strong relationships on this increasingly lucrative channel. Social media also helps improve your return on investment and allows you to collect powerful customer data. As you get started, find the answers within the following small business social media strategies.
How can social media grow your small business?
Social media for small businesses is a cost-effective way to stand out to your target audience in a sea of competitors. These four major benefits demonstrate why social media matters and how to begin making the most of your digital marketing strategy.
1. Reach more potential customers
According to a survey of 1,000 small businesses, most small business owners rank social media marketing as the best channel for building brand awareness. For companies looking to increase their exposure, social media’s large user base is a major benefit. More than 70% of U.S. adults use at least one social media platform, often checking platforms such as Facebook and Snapchat daily.
Each time you produce social media content, you have the chance to reach people from all over the world on a platform they’re already paying attention to—at no cost to you.
2. Build strong customer relationships
Social networks promote two-way communication. When you post on social media sites, you encourage users to start conversations with you through comments, direct messages, or tagged posts.
When you respond on social media, your followers interact with your brand in a personal way. Your communication can humanize your brand and connect with users in a more intimate way than other online marketing channels, such as search engines.
3. Improve your return on investment
Social media doesn’t just drive revenue—it can also drive down your costs. You don’t have to pay to use social media effectively, but if you do pay for ads, you can maximize your results more than on traditional marketing channels like TV or radio.
Social media networks allow you to specify who you want your ads to show up for based on demographics (like age, income, and gender) as well as interests and locations. This way, when you advertise on social media, your digital ads can reach your exact target audience.
With digital advertising, you won’t waste your budget on people who aren’t likely to buy. Every cent you spend on social media campaigns will go toward reaching your ideal customers. And if the ad’s not a hit, the financial risk is minimal. For example, with Yelp Ads, you can show up on competitor’s pages, customize the photo and text on your ad, define your target audience by location and keyword, and more—but you’ll only pay for the ad when you earn a click.
4. Get powerful customer data
Many social networking sites automatically collect data for business accounts. Using this marketing channel is a simple way to gather data and insights about your audience, including the type of content they interact with most. With this knowledge, you’ll be able to tailor your messaging for both social media and other online marketing channels.
Some social media platforms, like Pinterest and Facebook, even allow you to add a piece of code to your website to share data between platforms, so you can further improve your advertising. For example, you can track how social media link clicks directly lead to sales on your website, rather than tracking link clicks and sales data separately. Plus, if users visit your website without making a purchase, you can remarket to those exact users on social media to encourage them to return and buy.
4 effective social media marketing strategies
Understanding the importance of social media is just the beginning. Once you’ve claimed your profiles, start building an engaged follower base to see positive results.
These four social media marketing tips can help you quickly improve your social media presence and get attention from the right users so you can land new customers.
1. Keep your brand consistent
For small businesses, competing with large corporations for exposure can be tough, especially when you’re working with a limited marketing budget. However, when you establish a strong brand on social media, you carve out a niche for yourself that attracts people interested in your mission, voice, or company. As a result, you can grow a loyal following of social media users.
Creating brand guidelines is a great way to keep your social media posts and presence consistent. Define your visual identity through brand colors and fonts, as well as your brand personality—the humanizing characteristics your brand takes on (e.g., “supportive” or “serious.”) Make sure your visuals, content, and social media presence all reflect the same branding to ensure your audience can recognize you at a glance.
Aligning your online presence with your social media accounts will also help you build trust. When potential customers search for you, they’ll notice your online footprint. The more complete and consistent the information is, the more legitimate your business becomes. Claiming or adding your Yelp Business Page to customize your profile—including your business name, images, and description— will help you achieve this goal.
2. Create a content calendar
Posting consistently will help you regularly engage your audience. By creating a content marketing plan, you can outline what and when you’re posting and tailor it to what your followers want to see. Content marketing is a valuable tool that can help you build trust with your audience and stay top of mind when they need your services or product later.
To organize your content, use a spreadsheet, an online calendar, or a built-in template from project management platforms like Trello or Asana. Refer to this calendar when you post in real-time or use a social media scheduling tool, such as Later or Planoly, to schedule your post in advance.
3. Use hashtags
Advertising on social media is one effective way to broaden your reach, but if you want your unpaid posts to stretch even further, hashtags are key. When you add relevant hashtags, people who aren’t following you can easily discover your brand and posts you’re promoting.
Create a list of hashtags relevant to your business, industry, and products or services. Some of these hashtags can be broad (#haircut), but others should connect to a niche community or local customers (#NYChairstylist or #hairstylistsoftiktok). This way, you’re more likely to get your content in front of your target audience.
4. Focus on the right platforms
When you have limited time and funds, trying to keep up with every social media profile can muddle your message. Instead of stretching yourself too thin, start by focusing on one or two platforms that make the most sense for your business. For example, LinkedIn is an ideal platform for brands that sell to other businesses, while TikTok is best for reaching Gen Z shoppers.
When you prioritize the social media platforms and business listings that cater to your target audience, you’ll reach followers with high intent to buy. And you’ll have more time to improve your online presence by building out your website or optimizing your Yelp Business Page.
Build a strong social media presence for your business
Social media can help you expand your reach and build strong relationships with your ideal customers. For small businesses, social media is a highly accessible marketing tool that can improve your return on investment.
To start building your social media presence, build a content calendar that helps you craft consistent social media posts. To start engaging your social media leads on multiple channels, try email marketing tips for small businesses.