How to start social media marketing for small business and grow your social media following.

When you’re an SME or a start-up, your social media marketing budget is very limited. We are here to help you hop over that hurdle and will teach you how to achieve social media success when you’re at the beginning of your business on social media journey.

  • Define your target customer profiles and meet them where they are – first and foremost you need to figure out the demographics and behaviours of your target audience. Which social media channels do they use, what times do they use them, what content do they engage with, what brands do they follow, what products do they buy already? The social media channels you choose to build a presence on should depend on the generation you’re targeting – you do not need to be on them all. A/B testing when advertising is a great way to help establish your most receptive audience segments.
  • Determine your business’ aesthetic, colour and style – it’s important you define brand guidelines at the beginning, so that your content is consistent, and your brand is more recognisable. Variety is interesting but it’s good to ensure that everything you post links together aesthetically. Start by establishing a primary and secondary font, and a palette of 5 colours.
  • Establish the purpose of your brand and content before you post anything – what is your business’ personality, voice and tone? How will this appeal to your target audience? Are you going to focus on promoting and sharing social media content that motivates, inspires, educates, advises, encourages, supports, informs, or entertains? Make sure you are adding value to user feeds in some way, otherwise you’re not going to give anyone a reason to follow you.
  • Share yourself and your story – people connect quickly and deeply with businesses that share their brand stories and show their faces to their audience. Don’t be afraid to add a personal element and tell your audience about you and why you do what you do. What is your business story? Social media profiles that have a personality and a face behind them are a lot more successful in growing quickly.
  • Consider your SEO and ‘findability’use hashtags and keywords relevant to your niche in your captions and profile bios to get found more readily. Utilise alt text features as well, as this helps SERPs and social media algorithms crawl and serve your page more easily.
  • Be consistent with your posting frequency – aim for a realistic target you can stick to and try not to regurgitate the same content across all your channels, as this bores people. You don’t have to post all of the time because that’s a whole job in itself, but you could aim to post on stories every 24 hours if you want a persistent presence at the top of user feeds, or plan to post on your feeds every 3 days to maintain consistency. Be careful not to be absent for too long – social media scheduling tools are a great help if this is something you will struggle with.
  • Engage and collaborate with similar sized, like-minded companies – this will not only help your engagement rates, which means social media algorithms will favour your content, it helps you build a supportive community around your business online. Collaborating with others across social media within your reach will help you expand your reach and build you online business allies. Start conversations with other companies in your niche via comment or DM.
  • Offer a benefit to your audience – if you want to grow your audience, you need to be adding value to their feeds. Focus on 1-3 benefits you want to provide our followers – are you going to support and advise, motivate and inspire, or teach and encourage etc? There is no business vertical immune to this – every business niche needs to consider how their content is benefiting their audience.
  • Plan content in advance – if you create a content plan a few days or weeks in advance, you can be more agile and reactive to current events within your sector, strategise what hashtags you’re going to use, adjust future content to align with posts have been the most popular so far, and plan product or service launches ahead. Remember it’s great to use online templates and ready-made social content for ideas, but you should be creating content that’s unique to your brand if you want better social media success.
  • Use video – whether it’s for product previews, how-To’s, Q&A’s or just a general good morning address to your audience, video is both interactive and engaging so never omit it from your social content plan. Read more of our social media content advice.
  • Try paid advertising campaigns – producing a targeted advertising campaign is a fantastic way to bypass the lower reach organic content delivers. Social media advertising campaigns are ideal for businesses wanting to reach new audiences to attain certain business goals – whether that’s more page likes, more sales, more website traffic, and so on. Paid advertising campaigns on social media do not cost a fortune – you can set your own budget – and there are many pros and no cons.
  • Use your insights and analytic tools – every social network has insights dashboards that you can use if you have a business account. These are crucial for determining which content receives the most engagement and is most popular. By leveraging this data, you can tailor your content to what is most popular with your audiences. You can also use your insights to uncover the times most of your audience are online, to generate bigger responses.
  • Repurpose successful content – not only does this save time, but it is also giving audiences more of what they want. Examples of repurposing include transforming long-form blogs or captions into snappy visual carousels, videos into collaged images, photos into reels, blog content into infographics, and so on.
  • Tell stories – humans love stories, so use social media content to share your expertise, thoughts, events, and so on. Doing so builds connection and adds purpose to your social media output. Read more about social storytelling here.
  • And, most importantly, remember – social media growth takes time. If you want business success in the long run, you cannot opt for quick social media wins. For example, social giveaways are a good way to garner followers quickly, yet you need to remember that not all your new followers will be invested in your business once the giveaway has ended (especially if they haven’t won the prize). The only way you can build an engaged, consistent customer base and following on social media is by producing content that engages them and adds value, to encourage customer and brand relationships.

Key takeaways for your social media plan for small business:

  • Ensure you are adding value to your audience’s social media feeds, you won’t grow an audience otherwise
  • Have a posting schedule and a content plan
  • Repurpose content that performs well
  • Show your face and the story/people behind your company to build a relationship with your audience
  • Have a brand aesthetic with guidelines you adhere to help create business recognisability
  • Use video for varied, engaging content
  • Utilise keywords and hashtags for SEO purposes
  • Meet your target audience where they are – in the beginning, you have to find them, they won’t be trying to find you
  • Use the social channels that are right for your business and your target audience – do not spread yourself thin
  • Always have a purpose behind what you post – whether that’s to inspire, inform, entertain, encourage and so on.