13 Social Media Strategies for Small Businesses

Nadica Naceva
Last Updated:

Did you know that 62.3% of the global population uses social media? On average, a social media user spends 2 hours and 23 minutes across various platforms every day. 

These staggering statistics make a strong case for the use of social media for business marketing. If your customers are there, it only makes sense for you to be there too.

The statement holds even truer for small businesses since they need all the publicity they can get. 

Compare Dominos to a local family-owned pizza joint in your city. If Domino's comes out with a new pizza flavor, you'll likely hear about it one way or another. 

But if the local pizza joint does, chances are you won't know unless you follow them on social media. With this in mind, let's look at how small businesses can use social media to market themselves

Why Are Social Media Strategies Important for Small Businesses?

Social media use is important for every business, but more so for a small one. Why? 

To Engage Your Target Audience 

First, social media is the medium through which small businesses can interact with their customers. In her book ''Renegades Write The Rules,'' Amy Jo Martin says, ''"It's a dialogue, not a monologue, and some people don't understand that. Social media is more like a telephone than a television."

Social media allows two-way communication. It's not like TV ads or billboards where you put out information and gauge your audience's response based on several metrics and analytics. 

With social media, you can hear from your customers. They can leave comments, ask questions, be a part of your live streams, and even send you direct messages (DMs) if they want to get a message across. 

It's much quicker and personal. 

To Save Costs

Every marketing channel will cost something. But if you're a small business, social media allows you to cut back on the costs. 

Let's take an example. You own a small bakery and want to promote your new cupcake flavors. You can either:

The first two options will cost you money, but social media is free (except if you're using paid advertising). 

Guy Kawasaki, the Chief Evangelist at Canva, explains, ''A large social-media presence is important because it's one of the last ways to conduct cost-effective marketing. Everything else involves buying eyeballs and ears. Social media enables a small business to earn eyeballs and ears." 

Simply put, social media helps you collect brand advocates without breaking the bank. 

To Extend Your Brand 

Social media lets you take your brand to places that won't be accessible with traditional marketing. 

You're not limited to the geographical area that an advertisement will cover or the audience that a billboard on the highway might reach. Today, it's possible for many businesses to offer worldwide or at least international shipping. 

But how would you get the attention of your international audience? Social media!

Brooki Bakehouse is a good example. The small bakery is located in Brisbane, Australia, where it started. 

Brooki's owner regularly makes ''Day in my life as a bakery owner'' videos to show people behind-the-scenes of her bakery. It's when one of her videos went viral that Brooki Bakehouse got regional fame. 

Thanks to its TikTok popularity, the bakery saw huge lines outside it. Since then, the bakery has started shipping cookies to the USA, New Zealand, Australia, and the whole of Asia. 

Social media can help any small business replicate Brooki's success. 

13 Social Media Strategies for Small Businesses to Implement 

We've established that social media is paramount to the success of a small business. Now, let's look at the strategies small businesses can use to leverage social media with their resources and monetary constraints.

As a small business, you don't have the same luxury of failing on social media as a big corporation does. You need a clear plan to make sure you don't waste time and resources on fruitless efforts. 

For example, your goal could be to get 30,000 followers on your business Instagram within the next six months. 

Notice how this goal is attainable. We’re not aiming to get 3 million followers by the end of the year. While that may be possible with a stroke of luck and TikTok virality, you shouldn’t count on it. 

Set attainable goals. 

When you have this goal in mind, you can focus all your social media efforts on it. You may host giveaways to get more followers, collaborate with influencers, run paid social media ads, or post pop culture references to make your page shareable. 

Whatever you do, it should be in line with this goal.

If you're a B2B company, your goals and metrics might include: 

  • Brand awareness (links, mentions, web traffic, clicks, and shares) 

  • Lead generation (form fills, whitepaper downloads) 

  • Audience engagement (likes, comments, retweets) 

  • Competitor analysis 

  • Customer satisfaction 

  • Customer sentiment online 

  • Reputation management 

  • Positive reviews 

A B2C company might have the following objectives: 

  • Finding new sales leads (through social media ads and promotions) 

  • Launching new products

  • Creating customer loyalty 

  • Conducting competitive analysis 

  • Managing your reputation 

  • Improving customer satisfaction 

Keeping budget constraints in mind, you might not be able to take up multiple goals at once. That’s fine. Take it one goal at a time. 

Gene Marks, a small business owner and Forbes writer, suggests, ‘’Know exactly what you are trying to accomplish: sales, leads, or both? Avoid “dopey” metrics like likes, follows, or impressions.’’ 

He further says that being a small business owner himself, he measures ad spend vs. leads or sales generated to see if his campaign was worth it. For a small business, these are usually the most important metrics. 

Conduct thorough research on your competitors. Look at their presence on different platforms and analyze what they're doing, and what's working for them. 

For starters, you can use a competitor social media analysis tool like Social Tracker by Semrush. The tool gives you a snapshot of which platforms your competitors are using and how their audience, engagement, and activity levels compare across them. 

Social Tracker by Semrush

Suppose you discover that most of your competitors are heavily present on Instagram and have a high engagement rate there, too. That's a sign for you to kickstart your social media strategy with Instagram. 

One of the most valuable things you can learn from your competitors is their content strategy and brand tone. 

For example, what kind of content are they posting? Is it mostly promotional or informational? How do they interact with their audience? 

Which hashtags do they use? How often do they use influencer marketing? All these answers will help guide your strategy

We'll use Odele Beauty's Instagram page as an example. Currently, the brand has 27.3k followers. 

View post on Instagram

A competitor in the same space is Youth Foria, with 98.1k followers. 

View post on Instagram

So, what can Odele Beauty learn from Youth Foria's Instagram strategy? A quick comparison of both shows that Youth Foria posts more frequently than Odele Beauty. 

Also, Youth Foria posts a lot of user-generated content. They use a the following hashtag for all of their UGC: #YouthforiaAmbassador. Also, the brand has a link in its Instagram bio where people can apply to become a Youth Foria Ambassador. 

View post on Instagram

Although Odele Beauty also has a similar hashtag, #shareodele, the brand does not use it in its posts. The take-home here is that using a branded hashtag and encouraging user-generated content can help increase engagement on social media platforms. 

Small businesses usually don't have the human resources or finances to be present on every social media platform, and that too with high-quality content. 

Pick one or two platforms that align with your target audience and create a strong presence there. 

For instance, if your business targets young adults, use TikTok and Instagram. As a corporate consulting business, you're better off using LinkedIn.

Melinda Emerson, the author of How to Become a Social Media Ninja, advises, ''Find out where your target customer spends time online. Then, pick one social platform and dominate on that one. Claim your profiles on the other networks, but focus most of your time on that one.'' 

We find The Peony Collective to be a good example in this case. Although we did find a Facebook and Pinterest page for the business, both of them had under 500 followers and were inactive for years.