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6 Ways Small Businesses Can Use Social Media for Marketing

Let’s face it: if you’re running any kind of business today you need to use social media for marketing. People expect to find you in their morning feed, chat with you, get information and solutions from you. If you’re not there, you don’t exist. So, be there!

But not all social media activity works for marketing purposes and clearly not all social media marketing works for your business. Here’s how to get the most from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and any other social media platform you can think of to boost your reach and engagement online.


1. Establish clear objectives.

I know many business owners who think of social media as something they need, but have no clue why that is. They post some content on Facebook once in a while (when they have time for it or remember they have a social media account) which is mostly promotional: brand hype, special offers, “me” content. The result? Minimal organic reach, inexistent engagement, chaos.

Some also think that social media means just advertising and that by paying for ads they can solve what is clearly a bad content strategy. Paying for ads may work for a short while, but it won’t help you create a brand or foster long-lasting relationships with your customers.

What does help is having a plan. After all, you can’t treat your business social media presence like you would your personal Instagram account. And getting a lot of followers is amazing, but only if these people are buying from you. Otherwise they’re just numbers.

Therefore, ask yourself:

Why do I want to be on social media?

Drive traffic to your website, increase brand awareness, get leads, boost sales, create a community, learn new things about your customers, etc. Whatever your goals are, identify them now and build a strategy around them. These goals will be your anchor whenever you feel that your content is drifting away.

Who am I trying to reach?

You can’t efficiently use social media for marketing unless you know who you want to reach. Thus, it’s very important to build a customer profile right at the beginning. What is your ideal customer like (age, gender, lifestyle, hobbies, interests, etc.)? Do they have children? Where do they shop? How do they socialize? What food do they enjoy? Be as specific as you can.


2. Go where your customers are.

Now that you have your buyer profile set up, you’ve got to decide where you’re going to engage them. Ask yourself where your customers are hanging out and meet them there.

One piece of advice: don’t give in to peer pressure!

“Company X is on LinkedIn so I need to be there too.”

“What, you’re not on Snapchat? But it’s the coolest place to be now!”

Whenever you hear something like this, remember your objectives and your ideal customer. Are they on LinkedIn or Snapchat? Yes? Then, by all means, include these 2 social media platforms in your marketing. They’re not? Then don’t waste your resources on maintaining a social presence that is not going to help you grow.

Make it a habit to remember your goals every time you experience the fear of missing out. So what if your neighbor’s company uses YouTube to sell his condos. Unless YOUR customers are on YouTube, there’s nothing for you there.


3. Publish good quality content regularly.

Now comes the question that stumps many business owners. “What in the world am I going to publish?” You don’t have time, you’re not good with words, your photos are not beautiful enough for Instagram… all these excuses can easily be overcome by (you guessed it) having a plan.

When you create this plan, consider 2 things: words and pictures.

How to get “good” words?

Paying a specialist to manage your social media presence is the obvious way to solve all your content problems. But, if your budget doesn’t allow it, you’re more than capable to write content yourself. Remember your goals and your customer profile? It’s time to use them again.

What do your customers like to read/see online? What are they looking for? What problems do they have that you can solve? Combine the answers to these questions with your marketing goals and you’ll get different types of content: educational, entertaining, motivational, inspirational, promotional, etc. Then, take a calendar and start mix-and-matching content for every day of the week.

Bonus tips:

  1. Make 80% of your content helpful in some way (entertain, educate, solve problems) and just 20% promotional. Nobody likes to follow selfish accounts. If you’re worried that you won’t sell, don’t be! Selfless content builds trust and people are much more likely to buy from and recommend a company that they trust.
  2. If you don’t know what topics to start with, answering questions is always effective. Take a moment to gather all the questions you’ve got from your customers over the years (or imagine what your ideal customer might like to know about your product/service) and post the answers. You’ll provide value and solve your customer service problems all in one.

How to get “good” pictures?

Visual content matters a lot (on some platforms even more than on others). That’s why I recommend hiring a professional branding photographer to create a collection of images that you can use throughout your marketing: social media, advertising, on your website, on your blog, wherever you need professional images.

If that’s out of your budget too, you’re left with either stock photography or the photography skills of someone on your team (you included). There is a ton of software out there to help you adapt and personalize your photos: Photoshop Express (for iOS and Android), Snapseed (for iOS and Android), or Canva (if you prefer to work on your desktop computer).

More than anything, to efficiently use social media for marketing purposes, focus on quality content, consistency and conversations instead of aesthetics and the “perfect” feed. That way you’ll satisfy algorithms and won’t waste people’s time.


4. Drive and maintain conversations on social media.

Social media is a place where people have conversations. You and your business should be in those conversations either as topics or as conversation starters. It’s hard to get people to talk about you, but the funny thing is that the more you try to put yourself in the spotlight, the more you’re going to repel people.

What can you do? Cut down on your self-promotion and focus on your customer satisfaction. Post content that gets people asking questions, commenting and sharing. Make it about them, not about you. Be useful, be accommodating, be sociable.

When you get comments on your posts, don’t wait until tomorrow to react. Answer each comment quickly, even if it is just to say hi back, to ask them about their day or to answer a question. It’s a great way to engage with your followers and show them that you’re listening. Your business will be seen as more reliable and you’ll get more information about your customers (their needs, their interests, what works, what doesn’t).


5. Follow up with a good email strategy.

The longer you keep those conversations going on social media, the more you’ll start noticing patterns: certain questions coming up again and again, certain needs that you’re still not covering, good/bad times to run promotions and so on. If you’re tired of answering the same questions over and over, why not make a post about them? Or, better yet, create documentation that you can refer your clients to whenever those questions come up again.

Whenever a follower asks a specific question that you’ve answered in your eBook or article, give them a link to said eBook or article that they can access after they put in their email address. This way, you answer their question and add their email address to your emailing list. Giving stuff away for free is not going to dip into your revenue. On the contrary, it’s going to offer up new opportunities for business.

For more about email marketing strategies, click here.


6. Integrate social channels on your website.

A key step in your plan to use social media for marketing is to integrate it in your website. That might mean adding custom social buttons, include sharing buttons in your blog posts, use an Instagram gallery or Twitter feed on your homepage, install Facebook Pixel, or allow users to sign up or log-in with Facebook. Any of these social media integrations can be helpful depending on what your goals are.

Learn how to avoid the most common social media integration mistakes by reading this article.

Bonus tips:

  1. Don’t overcrowd your page with social buttons and links. It’s distracting and can even hurt your business.
  2. If you have trouble with the technical aspects of integrating social media on your website, check out the NerdPilots Store for a quick selection of services that may help, or get in touch so we can discuss the problem in more detail.


To sum up, in order to use social media for marketing, any business owner must have a plan. This will keep you from straying when times get hard or confusing. Think about your goals, your customers, what kind of content they consume, where you can find them. Only then do you start creating quality content to engage them in conversation. Follow up with a smart email strategy and you’re on your way to transforming followers into buyers.

Have we missed anything? You’ll let us know if you have questions, right?

Written by

Writer and online content strategist. Loves stories, technology and entrepreneurship. Wants to help you leverage online tools and best practices to grow your business. Ask her questions! She’ll get you answers.

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