18 Social Media Tips for Small Businesses

A quick basic checklist to make sure you’re not neglecting your most important communication channel

Tassia Agatowski
Jul 8 · 11 min read
Photo by Jessica Lewis on Unsplash

It seems like the whole world is on some form of social media. Actually, there are around 3 billion social media users, so it’s not quite the whole world, but it’s a big bloody chunk.

Of course, your business needs to be on social media. It’s now the main way you’ll speak to your audience.

It’s also a way of building your brand, nurturing your relationship with your audience, and now, even enables users to shop directly through the platform.

But it can be easy to let your social media business account fall to the wayside or become too promotional.

Here are 18 tips on how to best navigate social media as a small business.


1. Get Set Up Properly

Where possible, it’s best to start off on the right foot.

The social media platform creators want you to achieve your goals on social media; they know how you can do it best, and they can probably explain it easiest.

Watch their videos, read their guides, and follow the steps for setting up your account:


2. Respond to Customers

You should always reply to messages, comments, reviews, and tags as much as you can.

It sounds like a daunting task, but when you’re first starting up, you’re not likely to get many — it sounds harsh, but it’s true.

As you grow, to save yourself time, on some social media platforms like Facebook, you can set up automatic replies to answer the simpler questions.

Responding to customers makes them feel heard and valued by you and your brand. Which they should be — they’re your source of income!


3. Don’t Just Promote Yourself

Customers will get bored and lose faith in your brand if you’re constantly posting about how great you are, and how great your products are. It sounds fake.

Think about it — the brands you admire aren’t often tooting their own horn.

Sure, it’s great to post about your achievements, products, or services once in a while, but make sure it’s interspersed with quality content.

Your customers need a reason to follow you on social media. It’s not just to hear you talking about yourself all the time. Would you keep a friend who just spoke about themselves?

It’s got to be a bit of give and take — they’re giving you money and their attention, so you give them your product/service and valuable content.

Use social media to promote your content — create things that your audience will want to see.

Here are some ideas for content that aren’t self-promotion:

If in doubt, the general rule of thumb is 80:20. 80% content, 20% promotion.

Remember: content is king & queen!


4. Encourage Engagement

You want your audience to talk back to you — for them to like, share, subscribe, follow, and comment — everything!

Every engagement with you increases your range on social media. The more people interact with you, the more likely other people will find you.

Ask your audience questions, and get them to tag their friends with funny or thought-provoking content. Give them a reason to.


5. Keep Track of Metrics

Make sure you set yourself SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-based) goals, and record the metrics.

You won’t know what success on social media is until you set yourself goals… and achieve them.

Keep up-to-date with your goals and your metrics, so you can analyse what works for you, and what doesn’t, and use those metrics to test different types of content.


6. Choose the Right Platforms

Since social media is such a vast universe, it’s best to start with one, then build up others when you’re more established and have found your voice.
Research where your audience is, and get on that platform first. Here’s some information on the type of audience on each platform, and what they’re best for :

While you should start with one social media account, it’s worth signing up for the other ones that you intend to eventually use at the same time, in case the names get taken.


7. Stay True to Your Brand

Don’t post something that jars with your brand.

Remember, when you’re posting on social media, you’re representing your brand, not yourself.

So don’t share those smutty memes if it doesn’t fit in with your brand.

This also goes for the visual brand of your business. Tools like Canva can be very useful to create content, but make sure that you stick to a set of brand guidelines so everything looks like it’s from the same company.


8. Let’s Get Visual

Images are so important on social media, particularly with more visual platforms like Instagram and Pinterest.

Use images as much as you can but make sure that they’re good. Try to avoid just overlaying images with fonts like Comic Sans. Just avoid Comic Sans.

As I’ve mentioned before, free tools like Canva are useful where you don’t have a designer (or aren’t one), and if you research designers, you can get a bit of an eye for what looks good.


9. Show Your Human Side

While you should stay true to your brand (as above), it’s important to show your human side.

People don’t like big corporations anymore, they want to see the people behind them; it gives them something else to relate to.

Plus, behind-the-scenes sneak peeks can be great as content — especially if you have an office pet!


10. Perfect Your Timing

Find out when is best for you to post on the various platforms you’re on. You can do this based on research done by others, according to your industry, and with your own tests.

For those of you too busy to post to social media at different times during the day, use a scheduling tool. There are some great free and paid ones — we’ll do a guide about them soon to help you find the best one for you.

It’s also a good idea to set aside specific time for social media — once a day or once a week — because it’s so easy to get lost scrolling through Instagram and lose all the hours in the day.


11. Keep CTAs Clear

A CTA (call-to-action) is essentially what you want the person reading your marketing message (be it a social media post, website page, email, or advert) to do.

If you have a CTA in your social media post or on your profile(s), keep exactly what it is clear.

This goes for any CTA you have, in any marketing communications.

If you have more than one CTA, they simply won’t be as effective. Your customers will (even subconsciously) be confused as to what to do next.

And if they don’t know, they’ll just keep scrolling, and they’ll go elsewhere. Maybe even into the clutches of your competition…

Should they go to your website? View your video? Enter your competition? Buy your product? Make a decision, and stick to it.


12. Invest in Paid Promotion

Paid promotion on social media can be a fantastic tool, but it can also be a waste of money.

You need to know what you want to achieve (your goal), be it more followers (brand awareness), more purchases (or conversions), customer feedback, or survey responses… the list goes on.

Your goal should be SMART:

You can also choose your audience on most forms of social media advertising. This ensures that every penny (or cent) you put into the ad campaign is well spent. Targeted advertising is incredibly useful.

Here are some types of advertising that you can consider:


13. Don’t Buy Your Audience

If you’re going to spend money, do a decent paid promotion.

Don’t. Buy. Your. Audience.

You’ll end up with a mixture of fake accounts (bots) and real people who would never buy from your brand.

What’s the point in talking to them? Don’t waste your time trying to convert those that can’t be converted.

Plus, social media platforms are cracking down on bots all the time, so you don’t want to wake up one day to find that 50% of your followers have gone.

Say it with me: don’t buy your audience.


14. Use Competitions, Discounts, and Giveaways

These are great lead generation strategies, but make sure that your giveaway is relevant, or have some qualifying criteria, so you can make sure that the leads you get are useful to your business.

They can also be useful at getting your existing social media audience to share more data on themselves so you can continue to market to them more effectively.

For example, a company that makes doughnuts could ask their audience what new flavours they would like to see, expanding their range with confidence that it’ll succeed, and those that share their thoughts could be in for a chance to win a box of the new flavour doughnuts.

Okay, now I just want some doughnuts.


15. Use Hashtags Properly

Hashtags are fundamental to growth on most social media platforms; they’re essentially their own language!

Here are a few quick tips on how to use hashtags, taken from our Hashtags Cheatsheet:


16. Harness the Power of User-Generated Content

UGC (user-generated content) is absolutely fantastic. It makes your audience feel engaged and active, saving you from creating the content yourself!

User-generated content is exactly what it sounds like — content that your users (or audience) create themselves.

People trust user-generated content more than they trust marketing copy. They know what ‘standard’ marketing looks like, and it’s just not as effective as it was back in those days of Mad Men.

Here are some of the different ways you can get UGC for you to use on social media:

So the next time someone tags your product in a positive Instagram post, why not add it to your feed or your story?


17. Keep an Eye on the Competition

Now for the sneaky part of social media — spying.

Check out what your competitors are doing, and how they’re conducting themselves on social media.

Make sure you’re setting yourself apart from the rest, and fill in the gaps that they’re leaving wide open whilst keeping true to your brand values.

Keeping track of competitors on social media can also be useful to set targets for yourselves as a company — see what sort of figures they’re getting. And then get more.

See what customers are saying about your competitors as well — you can spot unhappy customers and lure them over to you. Just make sure to do it softly, softly, and not heavy-handed by straight-out attempting to poach them. Let them come to you.

Sometimes playful rivalry can be entertaining on social media, but tread carefully — you don’t want to be seen as spiteful or jealous.


18. Have Fun!

There’s no denying that social media is a hefty beast, with more twists and turns than a twisty-turny thing, but ultimately, social media is fun! So enjoy it!


If you’re a business owner who’s keen to grow and succeed, download my free PDF: 23 Ways to Promote Your Product.

Better Marketing

Advice & case studies

Tassia Agatowski

Written by

Co-founder of Night Sky Creative • Marketer • Advocate for equal rights and sustainable living • Feminist • Poet • General geek

Better Marketing

Advice & case studies

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