How to create a small business social media strategy that rains leads

It’s hard to break through the noise in today’s business world. Social platforms can be a great leveller.

Rob Boyle
April 11, 2021
It’s hard to break through the noise in today’s business world. Here's how to devise a small business social media strategy to grow your audience.

There is a wealth of platforms to promote on and it's easy to get lost. How can you devise a small business social media strategy to reach your target audience without breaking the bank?

Social media is an effective way to promote yourself at no cost. But it is important to choose the right approach for your business growth strategy

This article will cover the main areas you need to consider to get your small visible online. This will include:

  • Where to focus
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Instagram
  • Other networks including Reddit, Tiktok and Clubhouse
  • Analytics and metrics

Which social media platform should you focus on?

It will depend on your ideal customer and where they like to hang out. I’ll run through some of the most popular and the pros/cons of each social platform. Consider which would work best for your target customers.

Alternatively, run a competitor analysis to see what social activity is working for your rivals. 

If there specific social media channels or types of content that are working for them, then it may work for you. Or you could find untapped areas that competitors aren't making the most of.

My best advice for small business owners that are strapped for time and cash, is to focus on one channel. That way, you can build a following and maximise your time. It is better to have 1,000 followers on a key channel than 100 on 10.

That said, I do recommend claiming your brand name on multiple platforms for when you have resources or capacity to manage them. Use namechk to check availability of your name on the most popular social media sites. Post occasional updates on these channels but make a note in your bio that you are more active on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram etc.

Some brief notes to consider for all social channels

social media tips for small business owners

1. Consider whether to post as a company or yourself

If you are a solopreneur, or your business is reliant on personal relationships (e.g, coaching or other services), post on your personal profile. 

Rather than hiding behind a logo, include your photo and let your audience get to know your personal brand. 

Even if you do choose to post mainly company updates, your reach could be amplified if customers can get to know you personally.

2. Use imagery and rich media

Don’t just post blocks of text. Use video, graphics and real life footage (not just stock photos). 

Your posts can get lost without eye catching visual content to grab attention. 

Of course, this does not apply to audio only platforms (I’m looking at you Clubhouse)

3. Make your content easy to digest

Reducing large paragraphs to 1-2 line sections can make it easier for your message to get through. You can also add emphasis with bold and italics to emphasise key words. 

I strongly recommend the Hemingway App to improve writing clarity.

4. Keep users on the platform 

Social algorithms have decreased the reach of posts that link away from their platform. With that in mind, don’t simply post links to your blogs or product pages. 

Repurpose the content as a post that will encourage discussion and link to the article in the comments instead.

5. Post consistently

Only have time to post once a day? Then set a time you will be posting and commenting - and keep to it. 

If you only post once in a blue moon, or post loads in one day then disappear, your reach will be decreased considerably. 

You can use a social media scheduling tool like Buffer to post at optimal send times when your audience is online.

Okay, let's jump in and look at the major players you can market on without draining your cash flow. In fact, many of these channels can work for small businesses without a penny spent.

Developing your small business growth strategy? Check out our guide.

How to make Facebook work for your business

Facebook is the largest social platform worldwide with 2.8bn monthly active users. It could be a great tool if you want to reach a wide audience. 

But, don’t think a large user base will automatically fit your needs. You could easily get lost in the noise if you try to mass market. 

Due to changes in the Facebook algorithm, posting updates from your company page are not given as much reach as they used to. The updates are designed to push you towards paid advertising. 

Yes, I know you are reading for advice on free marketing tips so here’s a few tactics that will work on Facebook…

Facebook tips for small business

1. Build a community 

Rather than just posting updates from your company page, set up a Facebook group focused on a wider problem your clients face. You can then use the group to share educational content and encourage discussion. 

For instance, if you are a plumber you may want to start a DIY group and share information on how to avoid common plumbing issues or fix simple problems. 

You don’t even need to start a group, you could join one for your local area and be the go to person on topics you are an expert in.

2. Enhance your customer service

Treat Facebook as your virtual shop front and make it as easy as possible for customers to reach you. Respond to enquiries regularly and quickly. 

Set up your business page with the option to make bookings/enquiries through Facebook messenger or Whatsapp. Display your opening hours so clients know when you are available. 

3. Encourage reviews and referrals

Just delivered a job? Referrals can be your best source of new business. 

Encourage your customers to leave a review and refer their family friends. Nielsen claims that 83% of consumers trust word of mouth when making purchasing decisions. Make sure you can maximise this.

Want to encourage more word of mouth referrals? Read our guide

Twitter as a marketing channel

Whether Twitter can be effective for promotion is often dependent on industry and how much time you can dedicate to it. 

Due to the fast paced nature of the feed, your posts could get missed - especially if they are overly promotional. 

However, there is a varied selection of sub-communities focused on areas from finance to ‘sweaty startups’ and software fanatics. Find your niche and build a community.

Twitter tips for small business

1. Build your audience by using trending hashtags

Add a hashtag in front of a keyword to turn it into a hyperlink that links to other tweets discussing the same topic. 

You can see trending topics in the ‘explore’ section. How can this be used for business? Well, you could use a trending hashtag related to a popular show to raise your profile to others following that topic. 

For example, a wedding planner adding commentary to a #MarriedAtFirstSight tweetathon. Or a business coach commenting on #TheApprentice.

2. Follow and build relationships with influencers

Although your own posts may get lost if your following is small, you can still leverage the audience of others. 

Respond to trending topics or key influencers in your industry and provide your insight into trends. This will gradually increase your social profile and grow your audience.

3. Use Twitter threads to break down your ideas

Just posted a blog or want to share a detailed insight into your business? Don’t just throw up a link to your site. 

Social sites (and users) hate to direct people from their platforms. 

Instead, break your comments into a large reply thread and use the final reply as a call to action to your mailing list. This will demonstrate your expertise while engaging users. 

Use a social posting tool like Hypefury to schedule your tweet threads and measure analytics.

BONUS - don’t forget to reply to replies and retweets of your post to boost engagement.

LinkedIn - still the premium B2B marketing tool for finding new customers

If you sell business to business, then LinkedIn is definitely the place to be. 

It is especially useful for reaching decision makers, hiring talent and keeping up with management trends. 

It also has, at the time of writing, a better organic reach than other platforms like Facebook. You can post on a topic that gets high engagement and it could still surface on people’s feeds weeks later.

Let me preface my suggested tactics here with what not to do on LinkedIn. Don’t treat it as a virtual cold calling device. No one wants to accept a connection request and be pitched about your services within 30 seconds. It is tiresome and will get you blocked pretty quickly.

Instead, follow these tips to make the most of LinkedIn.

LinkedIn tips for small business

1. Curate and share relevant insights

You don’t need to post your own material all of the time. Curate relevant content related to your niche and share them with your target audience. 

HINT - use the content suggestions tab in your company page admin view. 

You could adopt a structured approach to posting with the 5-3-2 rule. This refers to the ratio of posts you should make to mix it up. 

In every 10 posts share 5 curated topics, 3 uniquely created posts and 2 that are personalised and humanise your brand. Think funny anecdotes about your pets or personal career challenges you have faced.

2. Follow your clients and individuals in your industry

Get to know their business through the content they share and comment on challenges they may face. 

This can also be an effective method of market research to understand pain points that you can solve for customers. 

Keep track of common phrases/keywords they use and set up hashtag alerts to see if others are talking about it.

3. Generate new leads by sharing relevant content

LinkedIn is a great tool for new client acquisition. 

Look for job titles of your typical clients (HR Managers, Operations, Marketing etc) and make contact with the ones that could be a good fit for your business. 

If they do accept your connection request, don't go into pitch mode instantly. 

Engage with their posts or message them about topics in which you have a shared interest. 

For instance, if you provide recruitment services and they are a hiring manager share articles on employee onboarding or hiring remotely. Advice they can use will make them more likely to turn to you for their next hire.

4. Encourage testimonials from former clients and colleagues

As them for specific feedback on your expertise. If you provide a prompt you will be more likely to get actionable feedback. 

If you sell bespoke furniture for offices, ask your contact to provide a testimonial with specifics on the impact your product has had on room layout or improving collaboration. 

Even better, ask them to also post the testimonial on their company page with a picture and tag you in.

Instagram marketing - show your personality!

No matter what type of business you’re in, you can still promote it on Instagram. 

As it is a very visual medium it is very effective for highlighting products in use. You can also use video on Instagram Reels to teach followers how to use them.

Instagram tips for small business

1. Show your personality

You can be less serious than on LinkedIn so post fun or memorable moments. 

Don’t treat Instagram as a purely promotional tool. Highlight what it is like to work with you. Talk about your life and your career learnings using Instagram Stories or Reels

Post pictures of your dog next to branded merch. Positivity and fun can be a great engagement tool on Insta!

2. Use hashtags and location tags to increase reach and visual appeal

But don’t overdo it and use them all the time. If you are a locally focused business, follow your geolocation and interact with others in your area.

3. Cross promote with other small businesses

Especially if they may have similar customers but are not direct competitors. 

 For instance, electricians and carpenters may see benefits from cross promotion to shared clients within the construction sector. Tag other businesses on Instagram and location tag other pictures as well.

4. Highlight your product or service in action

Use pictures that represent you or your business and include guides or demonstrations so they can get best use of your products. 

Ask for feedback and suggestions for additional services or features you could provide. Encourage user generated content. 

Ask your customers to share their experience with your business and tag you.

5. Interact & engage with followers and other accounts

Get to know your customers and build relationships with your followers in real life. 

Reply to comments and messages as fast as possible, people like getting feedback from the sellers. 

Comment on other business’ pictures and repost other accounts that follow you. You can use Instagram to build a community of repeat customers and referrals

Other social networks to consider

Depending on the type of content and potential customers you wish to attract, you should also consider these social media networks.

  • Community engagement platforms like Reddit can help you understand customer relationships and areas of poor customer experience you could improve. Find niche subreddits where your ideal customer base go and get involved in discussions around challenges they have.
  • Audio only social networks like Clubhouse are a great medium for informative content where you can answer customer questions directly. If you are part of a community, or looking to join one, the fireside chats are ideal for audience engagement and discussion.
  • Video platforms like Tiktok and Snapchat are perfect if your have physical products to showcase. Find social media influencers who can highlight them in use.
  • Also, consider Pinterest as a place to highlight your visual marketing. This could be boards showing your product in action. If you provide a service, you could show the end results. For instance, a carpet fitter or landscape gardener showing the before and after of their latest job.
  • Designed to connect neighbours to each other—Nextdoor is perfect for local businesses like plumbers, carpenters and electricians.
Make a plan for these social channels too

Metrics for successful social media strategy

To measure your social media goals and objectives, you should first outline what you want to achieve. 

  • Is it to increase awareness and find new clients? 
  • Or to improve customer service? 
  • Or simply to grow your network?

Consistency

In order to grow, you need to establish a consistent approach to publishing and interacting with your network. 

This could be as simple as committing to publishing a new post every day or sticking to a defined social media calendar

With a clear plan in place, you will find it easier to grow and turn followers into loyal customers.

Analytics tools

Most platforms have in-built analytics, or you could use an integrated platform like Buffer, Hootsuite or HubSpot to track them all in one place.

Here a few ways to measure your growing social presence

  1. Engagement rates. Are people interacting with your posts in the form of likes/comments/shares? Track engagement over time to measure improvement.
  2. Follower growth. Is your follower count growing? How many of these are your target audience?
  3. Lead generation. Are you seeing an increase in new sales opportunities generated by social? This could be contact form enquiries on your website, direct messages or referrals from followers.
  4. Competitive analysis. Are you growing faster than rivals? Are they receiving more mentions and shares of their content?
social media metrics for success

Set SMART goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely. You may want to set a goal to...

  • Post on Facebook three times per day over the next 12 months.
  • Increase visits to your Twitter profile for 30% in the next 90 days.
  • Turn more followers into customers by improving social conversion rates by 5% by the end of the financial year.

Try not to get obsessed with vanity metrics like follower count. These can easily be inflated and brands have been known to buy followers. Instead, consider measuring areas that can improve your bottom line. These could be social selling metrics and lead generation that increases sales.

Summing up - how to exploit opportunities to increase your social media presence. Without breaking your budget

Achieving marketing goals for your small business don't need to be restricted by budget. You can use these free social media tips for audience growth and creating new sales opportunities.

About the author

Rob Boyle is the founder of Jigsaw Metric and oversees content strategy and research projects. 

As a child of small business owners, Rob understands the challenges of growing without resources. He set up Jigsaw Metric as a side project to help more small businesses grow from 10 to 1,000 customers. 

For Rob, digging into the data and seeing KPI charts trend upwards is the most rewarding part of the role.

When not devouring business plans and books, Rob enjoys playing guitar and spending quality time with his infant daughter and toddler son.

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