Mastering Social Media Marketing for Your Small Business

Janie S.
Janie S.
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In recent years, social media has become increasingly essential for many small businesses. However, not all of them are doing it well. We will help you understand the basics of social media marketing for small businesses and give you tips on how to do it right.

Table of Contents

Why Social Media Marketing Is Crucial for Small Businesses

Understanding how social media marketing (SMM) can benefit your small business is vital. Use these benefits to your advantage when crafting your strategy.

Intimate Engagement with Customers

The most obvious benefit of social media for small businesses is that it provides an amazing opportunity to engage and interact with your customers more personally than any other marketing channel. Contrary to ads, often seen as intrusive and impersonal, social media allows you to reach out directly to your customers.

Your business can foster relationships with customers by responding to comments and messages in a timely manner and engaging them in conversations about their experiences. This level of engagement helps create a more meaningful connection between the customer and your brand which encourages them to become loyal clients.

Larger brands' social media accounts often become less personal due to their size. Use this opportunity to stand out and show your customers you care about each of them.

Validation of Your Business Idea

Before launching any product or service, it's important to do some market research and get feedback from potential customers. Social media is the ideal place to do so. If you're a startup or a small business, social media can be a great way to validate your business idea and gauge the level of interest in what you're offering.

You can ask people what they think of your business concept or product offering. You can also get valuable feedback by observing how people engage with your posts and content. This research would be more difficult to conduct through traditional methods such as focus groups or surveys.

Free Leads

Most small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) love social media marketing for the simple fact that it’s easy on the pockets. Very few other channels offer such great ROI for such a low cost. As you probably know, signing up for social networks is free, and you don't have to pay for ads if you don't want to.

The only costs associated with running a social media campaign are the cost of creating content, and the time it takes to manage your accounts. If you'd like to reduce your management time, you can invest in a social media management tool to save you a lot of manual work and effort. To choose the right software, check out our article on the best social media management tools for small businesses.

Bootstrapped entrepreneurs can run their social accounts themselves instead of outsourcing this job to a third party. That being said, if you don't have the time or skills to do it yourself, we recommend working with a social media professional who understands your brand and vision.

Brand Awareness

The problem with most new or small businesses is that many people don't know about them. You might firmly believe that if only more people knew about your products or services, they'd be yelling to buy from you. Social media can help with that.

It's an effective way of spreading the word and making people aware of your company. Whether through targeted campaigns or organic reach, social media is the perfect platform for building brand awareness that aligns with the values and goals of your business. It's a form of online presence only rivaled by your website.

Fortunately, the algorithms of social media platforms have changed through TikTok so that even small accounts can organically achieve a large reach.

Early Customer Insight

If you're just starting out, paying attention to what your early customers have to say about your product or service is crucial. This insight can be invaluable for capitalizing on areas of opportunity and improving those components that are not performing well.

Social media is the perfect place to collect this feedback from customers, as you can get direct responses from them in real time. Use this feedback to make decisions about your product or service and to develop new marketing strategies. In other words, it will help you navigate the unknown waters of your offering.

Learning Your Competitors & Industry

Finally, it's important to look at what other businesses in your industry are doing on social media. Look at both established companies and other small businesses to see what is working for them. You can use this information to determine what tactics are effective in your industry and adjust your social media strategy accordingly.

This kind of research would be difficult to do without the help of social media, so take advantage of all it has to offer. Breaking news in your industry is also most likely to be shared on social media first, so be on the lookout for any trends that affect your business.

How SMM for Small Businesses Differs from Larger Businesses

Although there are many advantages to running SMM for small businesses, it's vital to understand the differences and limitations that come with it compared to larger businesses. If you dive into the world of SMM like a big company, you'll quickly run into issues that can harm your campaign.

Some of the key differences between small businesses and larger ones when it comes to SMM include:


You might be amazed at how much money larger businesses spend on their SMM campaigns. We're talking tens of thousands to millions of dollars a year on top of the cost of creating content. Without such a budget, you have to be more strategic in your approach and ensure that every dollar is well spent.

Lack of funds means that if you're running ads, they may not reach as many people or be as effective as if you had a larger budget. Content creation is another area where you might have to scale back. Instead of hiring a professional studio or team to create content, try DIY projects or find free creative resources to start.

For instance, you can use free stock images and videos or look for royalty-free music. Use your own phone to capture photos and videos and document your journey instead of using expensive equipment from the start to create the next blockbuster every once in a while.


Small businesses often lack the time and resources to manage a large-scale campaign. If you don't have the staff or tools to help you, it's important to focus on the basics first. That means ensuring that your content is optimized for each platform, that your posts are timely and relevant, and that you are using appropriate captions and hashtags, and engage with your followers.

These tasks can be done without too much effort or without sacrificing quality. However, it's important to remember that you must be consistent if you want your social media marketing to succeed, so find ways to automate or simplify the process whenever possible.


The best way to measure the success of your SMM campaigns is by analyzing your data. The more data you have, the more accurate your insights will be. SMEs often don't have enough data to get an accurate picture of their campaigns, which can lead to inaccurate conclusions or decisions.

The good news is that you don't need an expensive tool to start collecting data. Whether it's integrated analytics on social media platforms or a free tool like Google Analytics, you can start tracking your campaigns immediately and be ready when your campaign takes off.


Most small businesses don't have the luxury of being present on all social media platforms. Enough of your time will be taken up with the ones you choose to focus on, so you must be selective with which platforms you use. Select a platform based on your target audience, how well it works for content creation, and what analytics and insights you can get.

Analysis of Social Media Platforms for Marketing Table Breakdown

Some platforms may seem harder to join as a small business, especially for paid advertising. Younger platforms like TikTok are often seen as easier to join since big companies haven't cemented their presence yet. Overall, we recommend analyzing which platforms your target audience is mostly using and focusing on them before adding any other channels.


Finally, small businesses are more likely to have a smaller and more niche audience than larger ones. Don't expect to have the same reach as a larger business, but use this to your advantage. Focus on building up an engaged audience interested in your content and interacting with it. Take time to understand their needs and interests, so you can create content that resonates with them.

Critical Social Media Marketing Tips

With the fundamental differences in mind, here are some tips to help your small business succeed with its SMM campaigns.

Build a Social Media Marketing Strategy

The first thing you should do is create a social media marketing strategy. This will help you determine which platforms are the best for your business, what kind of content you should create, and how to measure success. The process of creating an SMM strategy for small businesses is similar to that of larger businesses. The difference lies in the goals and the scope of the strategy.

Here, you can read more about how to create a social media marketing strategy.

Embrace Your Brand Identity

Social media doesn't just build brand awareness, it also helps you to establish your brand identity. You can use visuals such as logos and banners to create a distinct look and feel for your business that will help customers recognize your company on any platform. Your profile pictures, banner images, and content should all reflect your brand values.

The second part of brand identity is your voice. It’s how you talk about and present your company on social media. It should be consistent across all platforms, as it helps to create recognition and trust with followers with slight adjustments based on the platforms you’re using. For example, you may strive to be inspirational and motivating or funny and light-hearted. While frequent memes can work on some platforms, it could be the wrong place for a channel like LinkedIn.

duolingo-x-profile (2).png

Duolingo's Identity Matches Its Wacky/Quirky Mascot

Your brand's voice should also match your industry. Most people following a law firm probably expect a more professional and serious tone than a fashion brand. Whatever type of voice or identity you choose, uniqueness will help you stand out from the crowd. Put your spin on it to make your small business stand out.

Start with Organic Social Media Marketing

Promises of clicks and leads can be tempting when running ads, but organic social media is still the best way to get started. First, you don't have the necessary trust of an audience you can advertise to. Even if your promoted post reaches them and they visit your profile, they may be turned off by your low follower count and lack of engagement.

On the other hand, organic SMM will help you build up your audience, as well as engagement. Focus on building a community that everyone can be a part of in its early stages. Create entertaining content to build relationships with potential customers and let them know what your business is all about.

Once you've built up a good feed or following with organic posts, you can move on to attract more people with ads and more advanced tactics such as retargeting campaigns or lookalike audiences.

Engage While You Still Can

Coca-Cola's Instagram page has millions of followers. If you were to send a Direct Message (DM) to such a large account, it would likely get lost in the noise. Your response would come days later, if at all. Thankfully, that isn't the case with small businesses.

You should take advantage of these low follower numbers and engage with users as much as possible. Reply to every comment, start conversations on your posts, DM potential customers – anything that will help you build relationships with customers and potential customers. Not only will this build trust in your brand, but it also helps to make people feel special and valued.

Leverage Influencer Marketing

Similar to promoted posts and retargeting campaigns, influencer marketing is a powerful way to broaden your reach and get more followers. You pay influencers to promote your product or service on their social media accounts. Since they have a large and/or engaged following, you can quickly get your name out there.

However, influencer marketing is not a silver bullet. You still need to ensure that the influencer you choose is a good fit for your brand and that their followers will likely be interested in what you offer. There's no sense in finding a Kardashian-level influencer if most of their followers are teenagers and your product is aimed at people in their 50s.


Remember that you don't need to find the most popular influencers, smaller micro-influencers who fit your brand may be just as effective. Doing so won't deplete your budget, and you may even be able to work out deals with them to promote your business in exchange for free products or other cashless incentives.

Run Contests and Giveaways

People love free stuff, whether from a large company or a small business. Running contests and giveaways is a great way to gain more followers on social media while making potential customers aware of your brand. Of course, the product or service you give away should be related to your business, but feel free to get creative.

For example, if you're running a lawn care business, you don't need to go around gifting lawnmowers. Instead, you could give away free lawn care packages or a garden tool set. As long as it has some value and generates interest in your business. Sometimes, you may even get away with offering an ebook (e.g., a guide to building a nice garden) or other digital products.

Be sure to have clear rules and regulations for your contest. Otherwise, you may end up with a lot of spam entries. A good entry rule is to have people follow your page and like/retweet the post in order to enter the contest and further boost your reach.

Airbnb Contest Rules

Airbnb’s Big Game Host Contest

Use a Social Media Management Tool

If you have a good foundation of followers and use multiple platforms, it's time to start investing in social media management software. These solutions will allow you to automate tasks like scheduling posts and tracking performance, so you can focus on more important matters. Some have more advanced features like image editors, hashtag generators, and link shorteners.

They are especially useful if you have a small team working with you and need to coordinate content creation and engagement. The right setup will help you run a more efficient process while freeing up your time to focus on growing your business. Plus, SMM software is generally very affordable or even free.

Besides the article mentioned earlier, you can also use our Finder Tool to get matched with the best-fitting software for your business needs.

Smaller businesses tend to be more agile than larger ones. Think about it, a big company might have months of content laid out with little room for changes. Their followers expect a certain type of content, and if they deviate too much, it can lead to a decrease in engagement.

Small businesses don't usually have that worry, so you can take advantage of trends as they come. If something is popular online, you can quickly create content around it and post it. This will show your followers that you are current and relevant, and can help you reach out to new audiences. Just ensure not to overdo it, as followers can easily become resistant if you post too often or on irrelevant trends.

Use Selling Functions

A recent trend in social media marketing is selling directly on the platforms. Some of the major networks (Facebook, Instagram, etc.) have functions that allow you to sell products and services right there on their site. This can be a great way to reach customers who may not have heard of your business.

Some platforms take a cut of the sale, but it's still worth exploring if you have the right products or services. Not leaving the platform creates a seamless customer experience and can lead to more sales.

Instagram Shop

Instagram Shops

Track & Measure Your Results

Finally, don't forget to track and measure your results. You should always be looking for ways to improve the performance of your social media campaigns, so it's best to keep an eye on how well they do. Keep track of things like follower count, engagement rate, clicks, conversions, and other relevant metrics.

If you see a drop in engagement or conversions, look at what changed recently and see if you can identify the problem. This will help you make data-driven decisions to improve your social media campaigns and get better results.


While small businesses are disadvantaged in some areas, they also have their strengths due to more flexibility and personalized engagement opportunities. In particular, the more personal interactions and proximity to your followers can be used to your extreme benefit. Follow the advice and tips we've discussed, and you may soon find yourself as a big business yourself.

Just remember that it takes patience and dedication to build a successful social media presence. Using social media management tools can go a long way in helping you run an efficient process, but it's ultimately up to you to create great content and engage with your audience.

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I make sure that companies don't forget who they are and what they stand for. Social media marketing is more than posting a vivid picture or video every now and then. Consistency and strategy are the drivers of any successful brand.