Some social media accounts flop, whilst others fly. But what are the social media swimmers doing differently to the sinkers? Why do some social media business accounts grow quickly yet authentically, driving leads and acquiring customers, whilst others generate no traction and don’t gain momentum?

Marketing a small business on social media is no easy feat: the marketplace is saturated and competitive, and furthermore, it’s estimated that roughly only 5% of your audience see your organic content. Depressing right? It doesn’t have to be!

Here is our recipe for a successful social media marketing strategy for all types of small businesses, with all the ingredients you need to run a killer business account.

How to market your small business on social media: what makes a successful social media account?

  1. Correct audience targeting

Small businesses on social media that achieve success and grow a lucrative, engaged following get off on the right foot by correctly and accurately pin-pointing target customers, and undertaking the right social media strategies to reach them.

Brands on social media can effectively reach their target customers and audiences by using the following organic and paid social media tactics:

  • Developing audience personas to establish their target customer profiles, so that they know who they are talking to from the start
  • Using hashtags and keywords that their target audience actively follow and use in search
  • Adopting a social media personality which appeals and relates to their target audience
  • Using targeting presets when advertising on social media, and targeting by demographic, interests, and behaviours
  • Employing brand affinity targeting – running paid advertising campaigns on social media that are targeted to online users who follow, engage with and like certain brands, such as competitor businesses.

Find out more about using detailed and granular audience targeting. And why you should be using it.

2. Interesting content that has a purpose

Businesses that thrive and grow on social media are those that opt for quality over quantity when sharing and producing social media content.

Everything you post on social media as a business needs to have an intention and a purpose behind it. It needs to add value to the online user viewing it, or they are going to lose interest in your business and unfollow.

Before creating and sharing content on social media, consider:

  • What do you want the audience to do as a result of your post? e.g. view your website, share your post, make an enquiry? (remember that people do not convert straight away!)
  • What is the purpose of the content – is it to inspire, motivate, inform, educate, or encourage, etc?
  • What emotion are you wanting to evoke in your audience? e.g. humour, anger, amazement?
  • How does the content benefit or add value to your audience? e.g. it inspires them, it teaches them something, or it makes them laugh.

Avoid repeating content (if you’re going to reuse your top-performing content, make sure it’s repurposed).

3. Authenticity

Post pandemic, and with an increasingly savvy digital audience, social media users can see right through virtue signalling, dishonesty, and false claims.

To build a strong relationship with your online audience you need to demonstrate that you are both real and relatable.

Win people’s hearts by being genuine, admitting to mistakes, responding to negative comments, chatting to your audience, sharing your stories as a business, and adopting a people-first, customer-centric approach.

4. Collaboration over competition

Online collaborations are the new networking, without the cold coffee and small talk! By collaborating with like-minded businesses, creators, and influencers on social media, you’re expanding your reach, boosting your credibility, and building business allies! Collaborations also give your existing audiences refreshing and compelling new content, which will contribute towards boosting your social engagement rates.

Ensure you collaborate with businesses and creators who possess your ideal following – online social media users that match your target customer profiles – to grow your audience.

5. User-generated content and social proof

Demonstratable evidence of happy customers and a great reputation helps businesses to grow on social media. This is achieved through a marketing method and concept called social proof – based on the idea that people follow people, so if you can show that you have many happy clients, leads and online social media users will be more compelled to follow you online and become conversions.

You can achieve and build your businesses social proof easily by encouraging and using user-generated content. User-generated content is content generated and shared by your existing customers that promote your company in a positive light – this could be product tags, mentions, stories, images, reviews, testimonials, or videos.

Ensure you encourage user-generated content by promoting your social handles, implementing strategies to drive online reviews, showing your appreciation for your customers, and sharing UGC as you receive it. You can also repurpose UGC for new content and for other social media networks.

6. Strong interaction and engagement

If you want to grow on social media, engagement is key. Encourage interaction and conversation across your social media channels by;

  • Starting conversations with other businesses, creators, and your customers
  • Producing content that requires interaction, such as polls, questions, and quizzes – there are plenty of social media features you can utilise to do this
  • Reply to all comments and DMs, as this has a profound effect on your engagement rates
  • Like and engage with other content within your niche across social media channels

Don’t use follow or engagement chains or follow for follows – social media algorithms can see right through this and it is ineffective in the long-run, serving vanity metrics only.

7. Being consistent with posting and staying present

Whilst there is no magic formula for how often you should post on social media, you can adopt posting strategies that will help your social media business accounts grow:

  • Utilise stories. Because stories appear top of feed, they are a great way of maintaining a presence. Aim to post on your stories every day, as typically stories on social media have a 24-hour life span. This will ensure you are getting seen daily, and it also shows audiences that you are active and invested in your social accounts.
  • Use story ‘live’ features to determine when most of your audience are online, and post during the busiest times.
  • Put yourself in your audience’s shoes when you are scheduling your social media content – when are they likeliest to be consuming content and on their phones? For example, if you’re wanting to reach parents of young children, evening before 8pm is perhaps a no-go, as they’ll be scurrying to get their children to bed!
  • Stay consistent – either post every day, every two days, every three days – whatever works for you and generates the most activity – but ensure you try to stick to it. If you’re struggling to fit consistent posting in, try scheduling your social media posts in advance, or ask employees to chip in.

8. Varied use of social media marketing features

Social media algorithms favour accounts that leverage all the features and tools they have to offer. Furthermore, doing so also gives your audience a variety of content to enjoy – such as reels, videos, lives, IGTV, guides, carousel images (a feature you can use for rolling infographics), branded filters and so much more. Enjoyable content leads to engagement, and engagement leads to audience growth.

If you’re yet to dip your toe into video marketing on social media, have a look at our 14 ideas for social video content to get you started.

9. Use data to inform their strategy

Businesses should use the insights available to them from social media business accounts such as Instagram to inform their social media marketing strategies.

For example, you can use your social media metrics to determine which content performs best, which demographics are interacting with your profile the most, how many clicks a post drove, and so much more – have a look at our guide to social media analytics.

Analytics aren’t the enemy – they are there to help you, so use them! Leverage the data you acquire from both organic and paid social media marketing to adjust and tailor your strategy and do/post more of what works well.

10. Strong visual appeal

Accounts that do well aren’t ugly or boring. This doesn’t mean you need to strive for clean, minimalistic perfection – gone are the days of heavily curated feeds which offer little in terms of variety – offer fun and contrast while staying compliant with your branding.

Be creative and imaginative. If you were a potential customer of your company, what would you want to see? What would engage you?

Ensure your images are high res, good quality and offer fun, inventive graphics. Do something different and don’t try to emulate anyone else’s profile pages.

11. Identifiable and distinctive brand image, voice, tone, and brand personality

Personality is key for growing a social media account. In a saturated market, businesses that have strong, favourable personalities do the best on social media. Establish your brand persona by considering, if your business was a person, what would they be like? How would they speak and what would their tone be in different situations?

Your personality might be relatable and comforting, funny and witty, silly and light-hearted, or serious yet supportive. Whatever it is – make sure you channel it on your social media accounts to connect with your audience.

12. Running advertising campaigns

Social media channels are here to make money. They do this through advertising spend from businesses just like yours.

However, social media advertising works. It costs a lot less to do than traditional marketing, it can be targeted meaning there is less budget wastage and a higher conversion rate, it produces measurable ROI and trackable conversions, and it expands your reach and brand awareness to the right people, in the right place, at the right time.

If you’re not running social media advertising campaigns, it’s likely your competitors are. In the UK alone, the social media penetration rate is 77.9% of the population. That’s a huge potential for your audience reach and social media account growth, however the organic reach on social media network is continuing to decrease. Advertising and promoting your posts on social media, specifically for campaigns, is a strategic and cost-effective way of bypassing this problem and is what gets many businesses seen.