Social Media Marketing for Small Businesses

Learn how to promote your small business on one of the most important marketing channels.

Time to read: 8 minutes

Social media marketing is one of the most powerful tools small businesses can use to capture audiences organically. This is due to at least four important factors for marketers:

  • Businesses can get started with most social platforms for free.
  • Social media helps widen the top of the sales funnel and allows for businesses to reach more leads.
  • Proper engagement on social media can help foster a positive brand reputation.
  • Data pulled from audiences on social media — such as Facebook fans — can help companies get to know their customers better.

Of course, since there are many marketing channels companies can employ, it’s understandable when an owner asks, “How important is social media marketing for small businesses?” A clear argument in favor of SMBs using social media can be found in four resources.

  1. A 2019 study by the Pew Research Center finds the majority of the U.S. adult population actively uses social media platforms, with YouTube and Facebook taking first and second place in popularity.
  2. Salesforce's “State of Marketing” report states that 83% of marketing leaders use social publishing and advertising as a customer and prospect communication channel. The report also states that over 60% of marketers are using social channels to improve both audience segmentation and personalization.
  3. Salesforce’s report “Trends and Tactics Driving Marketing ROI” states that B2C and B2B2C companies use social advertising as one of their top three customer acquisition channels. For B2B companies, social advertising comes into play with upselling and customer retention.
  4. Salesforce conducted a survey and learned that 48% of customers prefer using social media to learn about small businesses.

Once you’re convinced that social media marketing is important for your company’s marketing success, the next step is getting started.

In this article, we outline what you need before you publish your first post, and how to use social media for small business marketing.

You’ll notice that using social media can be both easy and accessible for all kinds of organizations. This is true as long as you’re willing to put in the time and effort to make it a successful channel for your business.

Five Steps to Launching Your Social Media Accounts

Within minutes, you can activate your brand’s social media presence. Here’s a five-step process that covers how to start social media marketing for small businesses.
  1. Visit your target social media platform on your mobile device or desktop.
  2. Sign up and create an account for your company.
  3. Claim your company’s username.
  4. Add your profile picture or logo, bio, and website URL.
  5. Publish your first post.

For in-depth instructions on how to make the most out of your social profiles, see this guide from The Manifest.

Pro tip: To keep your accounts secure, limit permissions for other authorized users and enable two-factor authentication.

The Basics of Effective SMB Social Media Management

For many business owners, a common limitation for their social media marketing efforts is time. However, it’s important to remember that, just like with your customer relationships, consistent investment in your social accounts can pay dividends long term. Social media marketing helps you:

  • Regularly engage your existing audience
  • Cultivate a new following
  • Discover different ways to generate excitement and interest in your brand through experimentation

Therefore, you want to carve out time each week to maintain your online presence. Once you establish a regular cadence of posting and flexing your creative muscle, you’ll then want to be strategic with the topics you cover and the other brands you associate with. Often, using the right hashtags to participate in wider discussions can garner likes, follows, and new sales. Hashtags are essentially keywords that follow the pound sign, #, and make it easier to find similar posts and content.

Collaborating with social media accounts that share similar values, whether they’re other brands or influencers, can introduce you to their audiences, too. Beyond brand exposure, there are ways to directly monetize your audience, including turning your social channels into instant shops. Companies also use social media to resolve customer service issues and listen to what shoppers are saying about their brand and the competition.

The moment you step into the social media world as your brand, you’ll discover conversations around your company and industry have been going on despite your absence. When people ask how social media marketing affects small businesses, the answer is obvious. Customers are already actively talking about your products, sharing both positive and negative experiences, and sometimes getting swooped up by competitors on channels such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter. It’s up to small businesses to get on social media and join them.

Once you get the hang of things and are posting regularly, capturing a wider fan base, and converting those views into customers, it’s time to figure out how your social media efforts can complement your other marketing campaigns.

Integrate Social Media with the Rest of Your Marketing Mix

Social media can be used as a stand-alone channel. The most successful social media strategies, however, integrate social media marketing with a company’s wider marketing mix.

When you share a post, tie it back to an existing product page, or a relevant blog post, landing page, or lead magnet. That’s one of the easiest ways to market your small business on social media. Plus, pairing your social media posts with other marketing channels amplifies your entire marketing mix and creates a unified marketing experience instead of individual, siloed marketing channels.

As you familiarize yourself with the nuances of interacting on social media, you may decide to invest in paid social ads. They help you extend your reach to new audiences beyond your current followers, who have already opted in to your messages. You can target specific types of customers, offer special promotions, and test messaging and content with paid ads. Remember that incremental, steady progress is important. You can’t expect to become a social media expert overnight, and you shouldn’t let your lack of experience discourage you, either.

Often, the most effective social media marketing ideas for small businesses are homegrown, developed over time, and sometimes created by accident.

Of course, you want to measure the impact of your efforts, too. With so many social media marketing tools for small businesses, you can analyze your results in real time, monitoring engagement levels, website visits, conversions, and more. Then, you can use that data to better hone your approach on social media.

Social Media Marketing Is Becoming More Important for Small Businesses

In the past, many small businesses relied on Yelp reviews, word-of-mouth referrals, and passersby to drive sales. Now, they’ve shifted their focus toward capturing digital audiences. Between Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and other platforms, shop owners and their staff are creatively sparking conversations about their business and selling their wares online. This is necessary, too, since 56% of small business customers have increased their social media usage.

Many organizations have been reluctant to make the switch to include social media marketing. They haven’t known how to use social media for small business marketing. It was understandable that companies decided not to invest in unfamiliar marketing strategies, especially when business owners themselves didn’t use social media in their personal lives.

Now, many companies have turned to social media marketing because of accessibility and necessity. For example, viewers are finding both delight and inspiration from farmers in China who used their bubbly personalities and applied their charm to livestreaming. Through livestreaming, many Chinese farmers shifted their traditionally analog businesses online. As farmers who were more comfortable in the fields than in front of a camera, they never imagined social media could work for their business or industry. To their surprise, however, social media has exceeded their expectations. Some farmers have even seen their sales hit record highs as their popularity exploded on various social channels.

There is an art to using social media for marketing a small business. Take it seriously, and even SMBs in the most unconventional categories can thrive online.

Closing Thoughts

A variety of social media marketing tools for small businesses can help you promote your brand. The only initial cost is your time, coupled with a bit of creativity and out-of-the-box thinking to attract new audiences.

Ultimately, the most important step is to get started. Rather than let dozens of social media marketing tips for small businesses overwhelm you, begin posting earnest and authentic content and hone your strategy along the way.

One of the main reasons small businesses never get around to doing any social media marketing is that they talk themselves out of it before they even begin. Create your accounts and publish your first post. This won’t be as intimidating as you’ve imagined, you may find that it’s a bit fun, and you promote your business on one of the most important marketing channels available.

Salesforce Resources


Salesforce 6th Edition, State of Marketing


The Basics of Marketing ROI


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